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Atheists seem to have it so easy

atheists with pamphletsAtheists really seem to have it easy. They probably don’t, but when I look at them from afar it seems to be an easy life. A life of non-believing and depending on their personalities they may be ironically called insane by us religion espousers, but in the end believing in God seems to be tough work – but not so much believing in God as struggling with the entire concept of “what is the meaning of life?” I was asked that by an older friend of mine recently. I couldn’t tell if it was in jest, but I told him that life was about realizations that hit you in the head and made everything else until that point seem idiotic. Like when I realized that worrying about things was the tyranny of the mind. Chabadnicks say it’s the sitra achra and I agree – the other side, the devil, the evil inclination, the yetzer harah – whether or not that may be fictional or not is up for debate – but something in our conscience screwing with us. We worry about things all the time that will happen regardless of worrying or not, so why worry?

So Atheists, what’s the deal? I can’t seem to shake my belief in God. I never actually tried. I don’t think I’m smart enough to be an Atheist. Almost every Atheist I ever met was a scientist of some sort. I have a friend who says that any scientist who believes in God is intellectually irresponsible and I disagree – I don’t see how God cannot be worked into any scenario – I just don’t understand Atheism.

I kind of wish I could be an Atheist sometimes. I wouldn’t have to worry about the afterlife (I don’t really worry about the afterlife now anyway, like most people my age death is not really in my mind much) and my entire life would be devoted helping future generations have a good time here on earth, rather than the constant talk of this so called messiah who will deliver us from our misery, after a 1000 years of nothingness by the way. So apparently, one of the many urban legends surrounding the coming of the messiah (I’m not really sure about the whole thing, I only look forward to it for the fodder it will provide, I’m sure the messiah will be a transgender woman who is modern orthodox and everyone won’t take a hint) is that there will be a big war and the world will be empty of life for 1000 years – so we won’t see the whole thing anyway. Also, how on earth are we going to roll to Israel with all of our luggage anyway? And what about all that stuff the beis din will kill us for, like carrying in an eruv that not everyone accepts — maybe they will have the beis din stonings on pay per view or something with the money going to tzedaka.

Religion ain’t easy, unless you’re ignorant. If you sit and learn all day and never bother to reaffirm your beliefs it seems so easy. “Honey I’m going to Kollel” followed by “Honey did your father pay the rent?” It seems from the outside like an easy life, intellectually at least. Sure, you cannot afford white meat and don’t get to drink brand name soda, but you learn and shteig and believe fully (I think) in what you’re doing. Meanwhile, us underlings cling to this religion we really don’t fully believe in but are afraid of losing the community around it or something of the sort.

I believe so strongly in God, but don’t really know what to do with that belief. Others dive blindly into Judaism, whether it be orthodox, or some other stream, but I’m always unsure. I consider myself orthodox, sure, but am I? I like the term post-orthodox, or post denominational, it makes sense. I don’t have a hashkafa. For instance, I am vehemently against TV and Movies, more from a philosophical than hashkafic bent. I think it’s all a waste of time, but not bittul torah — everything is bittul torah, you know?

To not believe in God takes everything out of the picture, what pains do you have? But then again, when you do have pain, to whom do you daven? Baal? I don’t know if I could live without my daily conversations with the L-rd. He’s the best free psychologist. You can scream at Him, curse at Him, wave your fists at Him or Her or It and it just sits there on its cloud filled lazy boy reading the DSM 4 and wondering about what on earth you’re babbling. It’s really good talking with the Lord, loads of fun, except for the few times that I was heavily involved that when I came across a fellow hiker, they looked at me like I was crazy, after all – there was no Bluetooth in my ear and definitely no reception for one to be talking to anyone. I would momentarily break from my philosophical discussion with the clouds and tell them that I was spacing out and trying to scare the bears.

I guess Atheists have to pay for a psychologist. Maybe it’s worth the ease at which their minds get to glide through life. I don’t like the argument that Atheists are immoral. You don’t need God to be moral and it seems like the opposite actually. It seems like the evil things done in the name of God far outweigh the things done in the name of Atheism. You may make the argument that the Communists were Atheists and Stalin managed to kill 80 million people, but it’s doubtful they did it in the name of no God in existence — they did it because they wanted to control the world vodka market – which seems to be against capitalism, so why not?

{ 417 comments… add one }
  • Drew October 18, 2010, 4:16 PM

    Vox Day released a book called The Irrational Atheist, which deals with some of these issues. I heard that chapter 5 is an especially stinging critique of the claim that religion produces more evil than atheism.

    • Heshy Fried October 18, 2010, 4:24 PM

      What about monotheism – is it better than atheism?

      • Yankel October 19, 2010, 6:10 PM

        You mean regarding producing evil?
        Remember the generation of the flood?
        Hitler YS is well known for his statement that “The Jews inflicted two blemishes on mankind. Curcumcision and the conscience.”

        Belief in G-d is supposed to be synonymous with humans improving themselves and acting morally and ethically correct.

        There is only room for critique of belief in G-d, if (as an athiest) you believe it is inherently evil itself to believe in G-d.

        • Mahla October 27, 2010, 9:21 AM

          Despite the vociferous proponents of New Atheism, I don’t think that most atheists think that it is inherently evil to believe in God, though. (I’m not saying there aren’t atheists who think that, just that very few of the atheists I’ve encountered do.)

  • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 4:34 PM

    Atheism is the default position. I cannot ask you “why do you not believe in Zeus?”. That question does not make sense. Because why should you believe in Zeus. Disbelief in Zeus is the default position. You would only believe in Zeus if someone was able to demonstrate to you that Zeus exists, either empirically or by some strong argument in favor of Zeus.

    God is the same thing. I am born into the world and have no idea what this God is. Therefore, my default position is disbelief. If someone tells me there is a God then such a person must define what God is and then demonstrate in a convincing manner why there is a God. So far no one managed to convince me of this. Therefore, I take the default position which is atheism.

    Hershy, we are all atheists. You are an atheist too. You do not believe in Zeus, do you? You do not believe in Jesus, do you? You do not believe in Thor, do you? There are thousands of gods you do not believe in. We are all atheists. Some of us just go one step more.

    You ask who atheists go to to get help? Atheists go to people. Because people exist and only people can really help you, not some magical sky gods that never intervene in your life. Go to your friends. Your friends will likely help you with what you have.

    Besides, whether or not atheism is happier than religion is irrelevent to if it is true or false. It may be true that religion people are happier than atheists, but that does not make it true. The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

    • Holy Hyrax October 18, 2010, 7:07 PM

      >Hershy, we are all atheists. You are an atheist too. You do not believe in Zeus, do you? You do not believe in Jesus, do you? You do not believe in Thor, do you? There are thousands of gods you do not believe in. We are all atheists. Some of us just go one step more.

      Do Atheists have some sort of mesorah that they constantly say this same line over and over? To not believe in Zeus, Jesus, thor or eskimos does not make you an atheist. It makes you an unbeliever in THOSE PARTICULAR Gods. I don’t believe in those Gods. That doesn’t make me an atheist. It makes me a theist to one particular God.

      • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 9:15 PM

        “Do Atheists have some sort of mesorah that they constantly say this same line over and over?”:

        What is the problem with saying the same arguments over again? Theists keep on asking the same dumb questions. I am not going to invent a new answer for every single question I heard numerous time.

        • Holy Hyrax October 19, 2010, 1:34 AM

          Nothing wrong with saying the same argument over and over again….if it made sense.

          • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:38 AM

            So how about instead of complaing about how much this argument is used you actually show the problem with the argument ?

            • Yankel October 19, 2010, 6:14 PM

              The problem with the argument is that your labeling everybody incorrectly by calling them “athiests” when they absolutly aren’t.
              An athiest is someone who does not believe in ANY higher power.
              If you believe in ANY higher power – you are not an athiest.

            • Holy Hyrax October 21, 2010, 3:08 AM

              I already told you, but Yankel basically said it as well. I don’t believe in Jesus or Thor. That doesn’t make me an atheist. That doesn’t even make me an atheist to THEIR religion. Proof is simple: I (the Jewish believer) don’t label other false religious believers as atheists. They are mistaken, IMO, but they aren’t atheist. Atheist is someone that simply doesn’t believe in ANY God. I believe in a God.

              • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 12:16 PM

                Holy Hyrax. If you want to try to understand why I can reject Judaism so easily. Try to understand why you reject Christianity or Islam or mythology so easily. Then when you can understand why I reject other gods or other religions so easily then you might just understand why I can easily reject Judaism.

                • Dovybear October 22, 2010, 11:14 AM

                  I’ve just seen your blog.
                  “About me: Boruch Spinoza. I am the greatest human that exists.”
                  Gosh, I’d better agree with every word you say then. And remember – green tablets in the morning, red in the afternoon.

                • Dovybear October 22, 2010, 11:40 AM

                  And just by the way, Spinoza was not an atheist – he was a pantheist. (note also the past tense…)

                  • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 12:00 PM

                    Spinoza was an atheist. You are not familar with his philosophy. Pantheism, well what do you mean by that? Equating God with Nature? Well, you can do that. But seriously now, is that so different from atheism? Haha.

                    If you do not believe in an afterlife. No freedom of the will. No miracles. No prophecies. And you call “God” to be “Nature”. Then how is that different from atheism?

                    • Dovybear October 24, 2010, 8:04 AM

                      Atheism – the belief in the lack of a God (a: no, theism: of God). Pantheism is not the belief that Nature is God, but that God manifests himself within nature (pan: across/all, theism: to do with God). See?
                      And I am very familiar with Spinoza’s philosophy, thanks, I’ve read him twice.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 11:51 PM

                      No you are not familar with Spinoza’s philosophy. If you were you would not make this mistake.

                      Spinoza, basically defined God as the single foundation to all that exists. Then he argued that this is can be reduced to a materialistic (monism) and deterministic universe.

                      Whatever, if you do not want to accept that you are wrong. Then can you agree at what Spinoza meant be “God” is thousands of miles away from Judaism. Can you acknowledge that Spinoza had nothing to do with Judaism?

                    • Dovybear October 27, 2010, 8:00 AM

                      Yep, of course. Not knowing me or what I know puts you in a fantastic position to say how familiar I am with Spinoza. What mistake did I make? I defined atheism and pantheism for you. If you want to change the definition of atheism, by all means. But don’t tell me I’m mistaken. Spinoza admitted himself that he believed in a form of God, yet you tell me that he was an atheist because to you atheism means “a materialistic and deterministic universe”. Now I hate to break it to you, but many forms of Christianity also believe in a materialistic, deterministic universe – are they atheists? Calvinists believe in double-predetermination – are they doubly atheistic?
                      Obviously I’m wrong – I disagree with you, isn’t that the definition of wrong?
                      And yes, I admit that Spinoza had nothing to do with the Jewish conception of God, but so what? Christians also don’t believe in the Jewish idea of God.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 30, 2010, 12:57 PM

                      “Spinoza admitted himself that he believed in a form of God.”:

                      If Spinoza defines God to be the first primary cause and the foundation for the universe, and then in the Ethics Spinoza argues that God is equivalent to the natural universe, then that makes him an atheist. I want you to point to a serious disagreement between Spinoza an someone like Hitchens. Point to a statement that they would disagree about very strongly. I am not talking about words, I am talking about beliefs.

                      You either are not familar with Spinoza. Or else you do not want to accept that he was equivalent to being an atheist.

                      “Now I hate to break it to you, but many forms of Christianity also believe in a materialistic, deterministic universe – are they atheists?”:

                      Name one.

                      Calvinism is not determinism. Calvinists believe in miracles. Determinists do not. Furthermore, materialists reject the notion of a supernatural soul. Name a form of Christinaity that does that. Or any religion that does not.

                      Utter Fail.

    • FrumGer October 18, 2010, 7:12 PM

      Putting the prefix “a” infront of something means “not” or “not a” basically that you are not that thing. an A theist is someone that is not a theist. a believer in G-d. the illogical and cliche arguement that ive heard a thousand times is that “were all atheists we dont believe in zues. the fact is that if you have belief in any god it semantically cancels you out from being an atheist no matter what gods you dont believe in.. it was a stupid statement when dawkins or hitchens or whatever guru of the week the atheist are following now a days said it and at no time since has it convinced me to the converse..

      • G*3 October 18, 2010, 9:44 PM

        The point is supposed to be that for the same reason religious Jews don’t believe in Zeus or Jesus or a thousand other gods, atheists don’t believe in the biblical God. I agree, though, that “you’re an atheist to all gods except one” is semantic nonsense.

    • John October 18, 2010, 10:14 PM

      skeptic based on your “logic” anyone born religous and thus begins with a belief in god, should maintain that belief until it is proven otherwise. for them the default position is theism, and you should encourage them to maintain that belief until PROVEN wrong

      • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 11:38 PM

        John, it is not my logic, it is the logic of any thinking person. The general rule is you reject all positive claims, unless someone can convince you otherwise. Babies are not born theists. Babies has no beliefs whatsoever. It is religion that brainwashes them into believes non-sense like the talking snake in the garden.

        • John October 19, 2010, 6:47 AM

          You did not address my point. true babies are not born theists, but toddlers are. In the sense that toddlers raised by religous parents are raised to believe in god, thus for them belief is the default position

          • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:41 AM

            John, do not be stupid. Are little children born with the knowledge of God? Are they born with knowledge of Judaism? No. They need to learn it (or a better word “indoctrinate”) from their parents. Religion needs to be taught. Religion is a positive claim. And God is a positive claim. When you claim religion, like Judaism is true, you are making a positive claim. The default position has no positive claims, therefore Judaism or God cannot be a default positiion.

            • John October 19, 2010, 12:11 PM

              Nope, when a religous child questions his surrondings, his default position is belief in god, which according to you must be disproven in order to reject.
              allow me to help you with an imperfect example. Do you believe your father is actually your father? I assume so, and why not you grew up being told that he was your father, thus there is no fault in following that position until it is proven otherwise. Now lets take this a step further, suppose I tell you actually I am your father. Would you turn to your father and demand proof? probably not, i imagine you would demand proof from me, and until I provided said proof you would fall back on your default position (which you were not born with, but rather was told or better yet indoctrinated to you) and assume the man you grew up with to be your father.
              Incidently, your “argument” is as much against Atheism as Religion, the dafalut should be agnosticm

              • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:19 PM

                Let me explain it to you because you are to unable to follow simple reasoning.

                If someone makes a positive claim then it is the responsibility of the person to provide defense of that claim. If you do not provide defense of a claim then I do not have to give you an argument to why I reject it. Belief in God and in Judaism is a positive claim. Therefore, you cannot ask me why I do not believe in Judaism because it is not my responsibility to dismiss that claim. You can however give an argument for God and Judaism, then ask me why I do not accept that defense. But you cannot just ask me why I do not believe in God or Judaism. Like I said, the default position is always is disbelief.

                • John October 20, 2010, 6:54 AM

                  You havent expalined anything you are merely repeating yourself. That seems to be your aproach to all arguments.
                  you said “But you cannot just ask me why I do not believe in God or Judaism. Like I said, the default position is always is disbelief.’
                  I never asked you why you dont believe in God or judasim, never you can go back and check.
                  The default position is not always disbelief, that is my point for someone rasied religous the default position is belief.

                  • SkepticButJewish October 20, 2010, 10:40 PM

                    I repeat myself because you are unable to follow basic arguments. So I will repeat myself again. This time I will make it absolutely easy for you to follow.

                    Proposition 1: All positive claims need to be defended (empirically, or rationally, or whatever other methods you may have).

                    Proposition 2: A positive claim which is stated but not defended can be rejected without disprove. (Meaning, if you say “Zeus is real”, you have not defended that claim, so I can say, “I do not accept” without any disprove of your claim).

                    Proposition 3: God and Judaism is a positive claim.

                    Conclusion: An atheist does not need to give his reason for rejection of God/Judaism.

                    Proof of Conclusion: By proposition 3 God/Judaism is a positive claim. By proposition 1 it follows that God/Judaism must be defended by the person who makes the claim. By proposition 2 I can reject God/Judaism without offering a reason to I reject God/Judaism.

                    What does this all mean? The default position of rationality and skepticism is disbelief. That is exactly what I was saying. If you disagree then tell me exactly in which proposition you disagree with.

                    Note: This does not mean to say that the default position of disbelief is always the right position. Disbelief can sometimes be wrong too. However, to believe, a reason must to offered to believe. Meaning, if you give me an argument to why God exist then I must give you a reason to why I do not consider your argument persuasive. My main point is that atheism is the automatic position for any rational person if no argument is being offered.

                    It is the theist that first must justify himself, not the atheist. Once the theist offers his reasons, then and only then can he demand the atheist for his reasons for disagreeing with him. The responsibility of proof is on the theist.

                    So what argument can you give me to persuade me to again embrace Judaism ?

                    If you still cannot follow my argument that shows why disbelief and doubt is always the default position then I am not surprised why you are a religious person – because you cannot think for yourself.

                    • John October 21, 2010, 6:55 AM

                      You repeat yourself but you dont listen.
                      Youre conclusion: was ” An atheist does not need to give his reason for rejection of God/Judaism. ” I never disputed that conclusion. That is NOT what we are talking about.
                      You ask “So what argument can you give me to persuade me to again embrace Judaism ?” None that is not what i am saying.
                      how are you not getting this. Your comment is completly irrelevant. I am saying that to a theist born who is essentially born with religion, ie he believes in god before he is old enoough to question, the default position is belief and that should be disproven. you have yet to addresss my point.
                      Reread my comparison to identifying your father (above) if you are still having trouble maybe that’ll help.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 11:57 AM

                      “I am saying that to a theist born who is essentially born with religion, ie he believes in god before he is old enoough to question, the default position is belief and that should be disproven.”:

                      You say that you agree with what I said. And then you come around to contradict yourself by saying the exact opposite in this statement.

                      No he does not need to disprove anything. A baby does not believe in Judaism. He baby was brainwashed to believe in Judaism when it was like 2 or something. Once this baby becomes an adult. The adult does not need to disprove anything if there are no arguments for Judaism. If he was a Jew for 20 years and he never had a defense of his claim. Then he does not need to offer disprove. He can just stop believing in Judaism if Judaism was no defended. This is the consequence of what I told you.

                    • John October 21, 2010, 12:21 PM

                      Nobody NEEDS to do anything. Everybody is free to believe and follow what they want when they want.
                      Our argument is thus: You basically said that in order to argue a default position proof must be supplied against that position. a refresher – “God is the same thing. I am born into the world and have no idea what this God is. Therefore, my default position is disbelief. If someone tells me there is a God then such a person must define what God is and then demonstrate in a convincing manner why there is a God. So far no one managed to convince me of this. Therefore, I take the default position which is atheism. ”
                      to which i pointed out, based on your “logic” when somebodies default position is theism ie he is born religious ie to a religious family who raise him (indoctrinate?) him that way. abandoning that belief – ie abandoning HIS default position should require proof to the contrary.
                      Allow me to attempt top explain this to you with yet another example. Suppose a child is born in a cave. He grows up there never seeing the sun. For HIM the default position would be that there is no sun. Now although he may be wrong, there is nothing wrong with him assuming there is no sun until you prove otherwise. Yet for all of us the default position is that the sun rises and sets circling the earth everyday. Two very different default positions yet both expected based on their surroundings. While in reality both are wrong! and a third position is the correct one.
                      It seems that your problem is you think the world exists in a vacuum with pure logic as the only guiding force. Thus you say things like “Philosophy is not a popularity contest. I can be a psychotic person but still be correct. Because the truth does not care what kind of person you are. Truth is independent of he who speaks it, be he virtuous or vile. The only thing that matters are my arguments, not my character.” Which while you may be accepted in the philosophical world (you wouldn’t because you are dead wrong about most things) You’re arguments wont be accepted in the real world. Fortunately or unfortunately , that is immaterial, we judge people, and yes their arguments,based on external factors. Someone who looks like a drunk would not be respected (in the real world) merely based on his philosophical musings regardless of how wise they may be. You can pretend that ideally we all begin questioning the world around us with a blank slate. I the real world however,that is simply not true.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 4:11 PM

                      “Nobody NEEDS to do anything. Everybody is free to believe and follow what they want when they want.”:

                      That does not make them correct. If you want to argue properly then you need to start with skepticism. I am talking about what people need to start with if they want to reach correct conclusions with the best accuracy, not about what are free to do.

                      You example of a person in a cave is a bad example. Because it agrees with exactly what I was saying. The person in a cave should not believe in a glowing sphere in the sky. Because he has no reason to believe in it. That is what I was saying. However, if you can show him why he should accept there is a sun in the sky, such as by taking him outside, then he has no excuse not to accept it any longer. A person living outside the cave also has the default position of disbelief in a sun, initially. However, he does accept the sun because he can see the sun and so he is convinced the sun exists. Again the default position was disbelief. The only difference is that the cave person had no one give him an argument in favor of the sun so he does not accept the existence of the sun. The normal person lives outside and sees the sun so he has an argument in favor of the sun. Everything I said applies to both these people. Just follow my propositions again it agrees with what I said.

                      Returning to a baby that was indoctrinated to believe in a God and Judaism. No, it is not the same as the sun, and the default position is still disbelief. Because to this baby Judaism has never been demonstrated. Rather the baby was indoctrinated to believe in Judaism from the beginning. Thus, the baby can reject Judaism when it grows up if no strong enough argument was given in favor of Judaism.

                      Everything you said about “reality” and how I am an idealist and so forth … Is all irrelevent. Stick to what we are discussing. Besides who are you to lecture me on what is real? You probably believe in a talking snake in a magical garden. And you probably believe in a magical sky king that gets angry if people do not worship him. And you probably believe in a 900 year old man who spoke with animals in a giant ark. So forth …

                    • John October 21, 2010, 4:38 PM

                      Oy you are slower than i realized, but i feel like we are making progress so let’s power through.
                      You got half of my cave-example. great! now let’s work through the second half.
                      Suppose youve been isolated all these years on some island. youre an intelligent guy (in this example), but dont have access to telescopes and what not. Naturally you assumes the sun goes under the flat earth every night and comes up on the other side the next morning. A good assumption based on what you’ve observed every morning. Now although this has never been proven to you, you accept it. Now if i were to tell you that actually the Earth is round and orbits the sun yada yada. would you say ok, youre obviously smarter, have access to telescopes, while I dont have proof one way or another so i am at base zero with no default premise, so why not accept your explanation” Or would you ask me for proof to prove that which i am telling you since it goes against what you already believe.
                      Of course the example isnt perfect, but hopefully it’ll help.
                      The second part of my lecture was extremely relevant. I was trying to explain to you, how even though in an objective world where babies are free to question everything they are taught from day one, you may have a point. In the real world which we (I?) live in, it is not that way.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 11:14 PM

                      I have no idea what that example shows. In your example of me living on an island and believing the earth is flat and goes around the world I have no default position.

                      The default position is not to assume anything about the sun or the earth.

                      Since I was isolated and not very knowledgable I formed the best conclusion that I did. The earth is flat and the sun is goes around me. This is no longer disbelief. This is already a formed position.

                      When you come over and tell me I am wrong and the sun does go around the world you are challenging my statement. My original statement was not the default position of not having a belief, but rather it was assuming medieval geocentrism. Your position was the correct one. So in your example we have a conflict between two formed beliefs. My belief in geocentrism and your belief in the modern interpretation of the sun and earth. In a situation like this we just need to argue between back and forth and the one who is able to provide the better argument will win.

                      However, what you said is unrelated to what I was saying. Because I already formed a belief (though a wrong one).

                      Your example fails.

                    • John October 22, 2010, 7:00 AM

                      Tada you got it!! Im so proud of you (and myself, for powering through and being patient with you and not giving up. i knew you could do it)
                      you understand that “Since I was isolated and not very knowledgable I formed the best conclusion that I did. The earth is flat and the sun is goes around me. This is no longer disbelief. This is already a formed position. When you come over and tell me I am wrong and the sun does go around the world you are challenging my statement”
                      precisely!! now back to our case:
                      Since I was isolated in a religous household and not very knowledgable I formed the best conclusion that I did, with my parents/rabbeim’s guidance. There is a god who created heaven and earth and gave us the torah instructing us how to live our lives. This is no longer disbelief. This is already a formed position. When you come over and tell me I am wrong and and there is no god you are challenging my statement.
                      Well done skeptic, well done
                      Now just to use the rest of your comment :
                      My original statement was not the default position of not having a belief, but rather it was assuming the existance of god. Your position may theoreticly be the correct one. So in our case we have a conflict between two formed beliefs. My belief in theism and your belief in atheism In a situation like this we just need to argue between back and forth and the one who is able to provide the better argument will win.
                      what I said is completly related to what I’ve been saying. Because I already formed a belief (though you view it as a wrong one)
                      My example worked

                    • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 12:11 PM

                      “Since I was isolated in a religous household and not very knowledgable I formed the best conclusion that I did, with my parents/rabbeim’s guidance. There is a god who created heaven and earth and gave us the torah instructing us how to live our lives. This is no longer disbelief. This is already a formed position. When you come over and tell me I am wrong and and there is no god you are challenging my statement.”:

                      No, you fail again. You cannot understand my basic argument. So I have to repeat it again.

                      Case 1: You were indoctrinated in isolated house and accepted Judaism.

                      Case 2: You were indoctrinated and accepted Judaism. I tell you I do not accept your beliefs.

                      Case 3: You were indoctrinated and accepted Judaism. I tell you that you are wrong.

                      In case 1, you cannot use the excuse “this is how I was brought up”. In case 1 you have to find an argument to justify your beliefs, to yourself. Once you form this argument your belief is no longer a default position, it is a formed position of belief.

                      In case 2, suppose you tell me that Judaism is true. If you tell me that Judaism is true and I say “I do not believe in Judaism/God”. Then it becomes your responsibility to justify yourself. Because in case 2 I do not have a position, I have disbelief and doubt. You need to justify yourself because you have a belief and I have no belief, therefore I have the default position here.

                      In case 3, suppose you tell me that Judaism and God are true. Now suppose that I tell you that Judaism is not true, there is probably no God, and that the entire world can be explained in a very naturalistic and simple manner. Then in case 3 we are both making statements of belief. You make the statement of belief in Judaism. I make the statement of belief in naturalism. In this case there is no longer a default position of disbelief on either side so we would both have to argue our points.

                      The example of an isolated island falls into case 3. In case 2 my argument that I was telling you is still applicable i.e. disbelief is the default position.

                    • John October 24, 2010, 8:32 AM

                      skeptic, you may be having a stroke. Please please go to the ER right away. you say ” If you cannot give support for them then I do not have to accept them.” I am not trying to get you to accept them again that isnt what we are talking about.
                      Yes my belief in judasim was formed but like the fellow who thinks he knows his father or the islander who thinks the earth is flat all our beliefs are formed and sometimes they are wrong. If you come along and want to explain why they are wrong you will have to disprove those wrong beliefs which are know again perhaps erroneously my default belief.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:24 PM

                      I have no idea what you are even trying to say. Write down explicitly what you are trying to say, like I did. I am clear. It is not clear what you are talking about. You keep on telling me how I am right in what I say and still you somehow disagree with me.

                      Do you agree that if you tell me that Judaism is true, and I say that I do not believe in it, that you cannot ask me why I do not believe in it ?

                    • John October 24, 2010, 2:14 PM

                      Ok you are definitely having a stroke. Yes I agree with that statement. that is not what we are talking about. (how can you still not know what we are talking about)
                      what i am saying as clearly as possible is “anyone born religous and thus begins with a belief in god, should maintain that belief until it is proven otherwise. for them the default position is theism, and you should encourage them to maintain that belief until PROVEN wrong”
                      – my very first comment to you.
                      That is my point. That to a believer you have to disprove religion. We arent talking about convincing an atheist about the truth of religion. I think before replying you should reread the entitre conversation until this point. you are very lost.
                      Though first please please go to the ER

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 11:54 PM

                      “anyone born religous and thus begins with a belief in god, should maintain that belief until it is proven otherwise. for them the default position is theism, and you should encourage them to maintain that belief until PROVEN wrong”:

                      Why sould he maintain that belief in God? Just because he was brought up with it?

                      You just admitted to me that it is foolish for a person to say, “I believe in Judaism because I do not have an arguement against it”. And then you say the should maintain that belief. You are self-contradictory (like the Torah).

                    • Yankel October 25, 2010, 1:59 AM

                      “Why sould he maintain that belief in God? Just because he was brought up with it?

                      You just admitted to me that it is foolish for a person to say, “I believe in Judaism because I do not have an arguement against it”. And then you say the should maintain that belief.”

                      Skeptic, what in the world can be so hard to understand?

                      He’s not trying to explain whether gravity pulls down or pushes down.

                      This is a very simple concept.

                      Allow me to refer to an example given to you earlier, which you coincidentially missed.

                      A child in born and brought up with the understanding that a certain human being whom he calls “Daddy” – is his biological father.

                      Would you say this is the default belief for the child?
                      Or better yet “the childs default belief”?

                      I hope so.

                      Even though it’s a “positive claim”?
                      Yes.

                      Now it’s possible that the child will find out later on that the guy is really not his father. But that doesn’t change the fact that his default belief was that he was his father.

                      (By the way the whole “positive claim” logic doesn’t make sense. In these things, every positive claim is really a negative one down the line, and vice versa.
                      For example. Saying “I don’t believe there is a G-d” is also saying “I believe the world popped into existance by creating itself”, or “these stars are all the result of randomness”, which according to you – should need proof before legitimately believing, since it’s also a “positive claim”, albeit one which rejects another “positive claim”.)

                      I think whats keeping you from understanding this is you applying the implication to yourself, which you are taking to mean “I was brought up believing in a creator, therefore logically I should continue until it is proven otherwise”

                      This is not necessarily true, only somewhat true. The question is “Should one continue to believe in his default belief?”
                      It’s an unanswerable question.
                      Sometimes yes and sometimes no. That doesn’t mean the persons default belief somehow changes from what it actually was.

                      Another point I think is being confused here, is that “default” is not really an appropriate word to refer to one’s “original belief” which is really a better description of what we’re talking about.

                      I think it’s impossible to say there is A ONE default belief for all humans.

                      “You are self-contradictory (like the Torah)”

                      How can you speak about something which you know so little about? With a shallow superficial undestanding of a few quotes and verses in the Torah, you’re prepared to make a statement like that?
                      Did it ever occur to you that you don’t properly understand the concepts being addressed in the Torah?
                      Minds far greater than your’s or mine have studied the Torah in great depth and didn’t have your problem.

                      I’ll say, your statement should have been “What you’re saying seems contradictory to me. Likewise, some things in the Torah seem contradictory to me.”
                      Both are due to your lack of comprehension on the subjects, and can be resolved by letting go of your petty arguments and listening to what is being said.

                    • Yankel October 25, 2010, 2:12 AM

                      oops, I see you discussed the father example in the next conversation, regardless, this applies there as well…

                    • John October 25, 2010, 6:48 AM

                      I addmited no such thing, its your stroke acting up again.
                      All i am saying is that we maintain our beliefs as to whether their is a god/how celestial bodies rotate/who our father is until it is PROVEN false. Please reread previous comments they are quite clear and yet you still seem very lost

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 12:38 AM

                      “All i am saying is that we maintain our beliefs as to whether their is a god/how celestial bodies rotate/who our father is until it is PROVEN false.”:

                      By that reasoning if you believed in Santa as a kid and then realized that adults do not believe in Santa around you, you would ask them “prove to me there is no Santa”, or would you ask yourself to justify your own beliefs. Do not be stupid.

                    • John October 26, 2010, 6:45 AM

                      Ok now we are getting somewhere, I think you finnaly understand what weve been discussing.
                      santa from the get go is made up, ie the parents who tell their kids about it later tell their kids they made it up. that is the equivalent to your own father telling you he actually isnt your father. It wouldnt make sense to maintain a belief once you discover the entire source for the belief is addmitedly made up. None of this is comparable to to belief in god (unless my parents and rabbeim said they made it all up, then Im not saying id stop believing, but i would have a serious emuna-crises), but best try so far youve made great strides.

                      I replied to your 4 questions in our other discussion, is that the end? that discussion was more fun.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 11:22 PM

                      If your parents told you Santa was real when you were 12, you believed them. Then they died. You turned 21 and still believe in Santa.

                      According to you, you should continue to believe in Santa until someone comes along and can disprove you?

                      If you say “yes” then you are being stupid. If you say “no” then you just agreed with everything I was saying.

                    • John October 27, 2010, 6:53 AM

                      Santa is different becasue as I said, from the get go it is a made up story. Nobody believes it. If there was a group who actually believed in santa then my point would work and yes there is nothing wrong with believing in santa just as millions believe in a virgin birth or talking snake.
                      Since there is no such society, an adult believing in santa is quite strange.
                      Let me allow you to answr your question by posing the following: You obviously think people who believe in talking snakes are primitive and backwards, suppose you meet an adult who believes in santa, would you say he is in the same camp as all these other people who have silly beliefs? Or would that believ be even more ridiculous thanthe others?

                    • SkepticButJewish October 29, 2010, 12:58 AM

                      “Santa is different becasue as I said, from the get go it is a made up story. Nobody believes it. “:

                      And God is not? That is exactly what atheists tell theists. God is just like Santa. It is a made up story. You are decieved by people who were themselves decieved.

                      You make no sense. We are talking about principles here. Your principle is that if you are brought up to believe something you should continue believing it until someone shows why you are wrong. That is what you said.

                      I demonstrate that this principle is non-sense by pointing to an example of why it makes no sense. You tell me that “well this is different”.

                      What kind of a response is that? Either you stick to the principle that you stated and conclude that if people believed in some really ridiculous idea then they should continue to believe in it, or you realize that your principle is wrong.

                      So we return again to what I said. If you agree that he should continue to believe in Santa, then you are being stupid. If you do not agree that he should continue to believe in Santa then you just agreed with me.

                      You really are not making any sense here. Your entire argument is falling into pieces.

                    • John October 29, 2010, 6:59 AM

                      Skeptic, I missed you. youre fun, dont take such long breaks please.
                      a simple question to help you understand:
                      Two guys a) believes inSanta at a grown up age. ANd b) doesnt but is a devout christian. do you think the two are equally naive/foolish?
                      If you do, can you understand why another atheist, who thinks both are foolish, but who thinks that believing in santa is even sillier?

                      Since my example worked so well last time, perhaps playing on the same example would help: The guy who beleievs in Santa is comparable to a guy who beleivs the guy who claims is his father is his father when it is so obvious to all that he isnt like if the kid is black. Although earlier you agreed taht there is nothing wrong with maintaing a default position even though it was never proven, there are cases where it is so obviously false, that there the belief is just abbandoned, You say religion is false, to me (and most people) its not that obvious so maintaing the beleif until proven otherwise isnt strange

                    • SkepticButJewish October 30, 2010, 1:11 PM

                      “do you think the two are equally naive/foolish?”:

                      What does this anything to do with what I am saying?

                      I asked you a very simple question. Should the adult continue believing in Santa without proof because that is what he was brought up to believe? That is what I asked you. You do not address this question at all in your response to me. Answer it. Based on your principle he should continue believe in Santa. I ask you why. Do not switch to another topic.

                      “Although earlier you agreed taht there is nothing wrong with maintaing a default position even though it was never proven there are cases where it is so obviously false”:

                      Again you do not understand what I just said. How can you continue to fail to understand such a basic concept – no wonder you are religious.

                      The default position is not a belief statement. It is disbelief and doubt. That is it. There is nothing wrong in that. Because it is not saying anything. I said that the default position is not always preferrable to stand by it. But it is the position that we must always start from. Starting from it does not mean we continue to hold it.

                      “You say religion is false, to me (and most people) its not that obvious so maintaing the beleif until proven otherwise isnt strange.”:

                      I said that you believe in Judaism. Therefore, you must justify Judaism for yourself and for others. You cannot say, “I will continue to believe in this until someone shows me why I am wrong”. If you do, how are you different from the adult who believes in Santa?

                      Answer this question again. Must the adult continue believing in Santa without having proof by saying that this is the belief his parents taught him?

                    • John October 30, 2010, 7:35 PM

                      “I asked you a very simple question. Should the adult continue believing in Santa without proof because that is what he was brought up to believe? That is what I asked you. You do not address this question at all in your response to me. Answer it. Based on your principle he should continue believe in Santa. I ask you why. Do not switch to another topic.”
                      and I gave you a very simple direct answer he should abandon that belief, check back to the first comment on santa.
                      I then went on to expalin to you why belief in santa is differnt than belief in god.
                      Naturaly you had trouble understanding (or pretended to because youre a terrible loser), so to help you understand the differnce i posed a directly related question (which naturaly you are afraid to answer) to you:
                      namely: “”do you think the two are equally naive/foolish?”
                      I answered many of your questions please answer mine.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 2, 2010, 1:22 AM

                      “and I gave you a very simple direct answer he should abandon that belief.”:

                      Therefore, your principle is false. You said a person should maintain his beliefs that he was brought up with until someone can refute them. But you just agreed that this is not always the case. Therefore, you are admitted you were wrong.

                      “I then went on to expalin to you why belief in santa is differnt than belief in god.”:

                      We are talking about principles here. Not specific beliefs. I asked you a general principle. Should people maintain what they learned as children if they cannot have a defense of those beliefs unless someone can refute them? You kept on telling me yes before. With Santa you change. Therefore, your principle was altogether wrong.

                      What you started doing is explaining how belief in God differs from belief in Santa. But this is all irrelevent. You are arguing specifics. I wanted a general principle.

                      “do you think the two are equally naive/foolish?”:

                      Not belief in God (like deism, like my hero Thomas Jefferson). But belief in religion is too silly. It is understandable why people believe in it since they were indoctrinated as children. But with all the arguments available today against religion anyone who still remains religious is as silly as someone who maintains belief in Santa.

                    • John November 2, 2010, 7:10 AM

                      No my friend, you couldnt be further from the trurh. You finnaly seem to understand the point Ive made. Santa was your first good point, though i’ve expalined to you why it is different. My point stands, you can feel free to bow out like a man, instead of dancing around spweing nonsense about principles and beliefs. I told you somehting very specific about maintaing beliefs, gave you examples to help you understand it.
                      That is all

                    • SkepticButJewish November 4, 2010, 1:31 AM

                      “No my friend, you couldnt be further from the trurh. You finnaly seem to understand the point Ive made. Santa was your first good point, though i’ve expalined to you why it is different. My point stands, you can feel free to bow out like a man, instead of dancing around spweing nonsense about principles and beliefs. I told you somehting very specific about maintaing beliefs, gave you examples to help you understand it.”

                      You have no refuted anything I said before.

                      Let me remind you again what you said. You said that a person has to maintain the beliefs of his parents. And he should maintain them unless someone can prove him wrong. That is what you said. You kept on saying this.

                      I gave you an example of when your principle is complete stupidity. With Santa. More generally, let us suppose your believes are really crazy compared to the outside world. To the outside world you appear to be really strange.

                      According to me you need to ask yourself the question, “how can I justify what I believe. If I cannot justify it then I should no longer believe in it any longer”. According to you, “I will continue to believe what my parents told me even though it appears to be really strange unless somebody who does not believe can prove to me why I am wrong”.

                      Tell me, what do you honestly think is the most intellectual position? To continue to believe without evidence simply because that is what you were taught to believe. Or to question what you believe and if you cannot justify it then give it up?

                    • John November 4, 2010, 8:49 AM

                      Ok great we are very close! You get what I am saying, but you only have trouble understanding why belief in santa is differnent than belief in god.
                      You seem to understand things better with examples so i will try that aproach again:
                      let us consider two people, who we aapproach and ask their name. the first one says “my name is John smith” We ask him, “have you ever seen your birth certificate? how do you know that is your name?” He responds “Come to think of it, It actually was never PROVEN to me but that is what my parent s always called me so I assumed that was my name”
                      OK So far so good, this was never proven to him, but is alogical approach for this fellow to take until it is proevn false. His default position is not – I dont know whatmy name is until it is proven one way or anothr, his default position is the name he grew up with until Proven wrong. THis is comparable to our hero the theist, which I think you get by know so let us move on to santa.
                      The second kid replies “”my name is cutie pie” We ask him, “have you ever seen your birth certificate? how do you know that is your name?” He responds “Come to think of it, It actually was never PROVEN to me but that is what my parent s always called me so I assumed that was my name” This is the guy who maintains beleif in Santa, although in some cases maintaing your beliefs is acceptable until proven wrong, when that belief is based on a jolly red fellow who nobody beleives in, or a name parents used which is obviously a term of endearment, this wouldnt apply or anything that is from the onset something that nobody actually believes this wouldnt apply. Do you see why the principles we applied in the first case wouldnt work in the second?

                    • SkepticButJewish November 7, 2010, 1:36 AM

                      You still do not understand. No wonder you are religious if you cannot think these simple things through.

                      When your parents name you, your default position should still be disbelief. You start with the default position of disbelief.

                      Then your parents tell you, “you name is Adolf”. To be consistent with what I said, you should ask yourself the question “how do I know that this is my name?”.

                      I do not really know that my name is Adolf. But in this case it is reasonable to assume that my name is Adolf because I see no reason why my parents would lie to me. Them telling me so is good enough reason for me to believe in it.

                      God is not the same. Because a name, is just a name. It is not a statement of truth. It does not matter what your name is. God is a statement of truth. So if your parents tell you that “God is real so you better not masturbate” then that requires proof. You cannot just say “I trust my parents”. Because it might very well be that they are being honest with you that God is real. But they may be mistaken. With your name, it is irrelevant, since it is just your name. But with God their intentions, even though most probably honest, do not need to be correct.

                      Therefore, you must question what your parents say and start with the default position of disbelief.

                    • John November 7, 2010, 8:29 AM

                      unfortunatly, you are wrong again. Is it annoying to always be wrong?
                      There is truth to a name. somewhere is a birth-certificate that the boys in our story havent seen, that birth-certificate has objectvly what their real name is. It is reasonable for” john smith” to assume that is his real name although it isnt for ” cutie pie”
                      Btw you lost track of the conversation, we have moved passed believing in god (which earlier you kinda understood when i expllained it to you using examples. We have now moved on to my explaing to you why santa is different. I hope the above example helped. If not, reread it, and if youre still stuck i’d be more than happy to expalin it to you again. Dont feel bad you’ll get it eventualy, you just have to try to think a little bit. hang in there!

                    • SkepticButJewish November 11, 2010, 1:36 AM

                      “unfortunatly, you are wrong again.”:

                      How am I wrong? You not refuting anything I said.

                      Consider this situation.

                      You grew up Jewish. And you are surrounded by non-Jewish people. You see that they live life completely differently from how you live life and they can make sense of the world. You are an outcast, a big time outcast, compared to the non-Jews around you.

                      What is the better position to take?

                      My position: I have never see a justification for Judaism, I have only believed in it because I have been brought up to believe in it. Therefore, I should look for reasons why Judaism is correct. If I cannot find them, then I need to seriously reconsider if I should continue to keep these beliefs.

                      Your position: I have never seen justification for Judaism. I have only believed in it because I have been brought up to believe in it. Therefore, I will continue to believe in it for as long as I live unless someone, who is non-Jewish, can prove to me why I am wrong.

                      Seriously, now. Which kind of Jew in these two cases is the more intelligent kind?

                      I cannot possibly see how you can make a case why your position is the superior position.

                    • John November 11, 2010, 7:04 AM

                      silly sisilly skeptic, we arent discussing judaism vs christianity, we are discussing atheism vs theism. you say I have never seen justification for Judaism. i have! the christians all around me tell me the old testament is true, remember!
                      of course you cant see how my position is compromised, youre religion is more anti-thinking than mine. you swallow your god (dawkins et al) hook line and sinker

                    • SkepticButJewish November 14, 2010, 1:25 AM

                      You did not answer my question whatsoever. I asked you, given those two scenarios that I wrote above, which one is the intellectually better position to take.

                    • John November 14, 2010, 10:04 AM

                      Youre getting a bit of track, even if yours was the intellectually superior position, that doesnt change the fact that “anyone born religous and thus begins with a belief in god, should maintain that belief until it is proven otherwise. for them the default position is theism, and you should encourage them to maintain that belief until PROVEN wrong” As ive said in the very first comment to you.
                      Now to clarify a faulty premise you have,we dont exist in a vaccum, we have beliefs before we start thinking about them. Is it ” intellectualy supperior” to abbandon all beliefs before deciding if they should be kept, perhaps. But as i’ve explained to you earlier the real world doesnt work that way. Ive actualy figured you out, and allow me to explain yourself to you. Youre not as stupid as you come off sounding, its just that you arent able to think things through in the real world. you are caught up in the perfect world where pure logic prevails. I discovered this by reading some of your posts on your awful awful blog. In one of your posts, you discuss the “monty hall paradox” You state “And I still do not understand why people today are still so confused by it” You probably think this makes you smarter, it doesnt. It makes you dumber, you are unable to understand the real world that we live in where strict logic doesnt drive everything that we do.
                      Allow me to illustrate this to you with a riddle I think youd enjoy (my apolagies if youve heard this already) There is a pirate band with 5 members who have 100 coins to divide amongst them. according to their laws the most senior member (ranked 1) proposes a division and they all vote on it. If a majority dont like it the senior pirate is killed, and the next ranked pirate (#2) gives his proposal which they again vote on. If a majority like it or if it is a tie the vote passes and they carry out the proposal. What should pirate #1 say to get the best deal and ensure his survival?
                      Before giving the answer (which i suspect you may be able to reason) understand that the answer only works in the purely logical world of the riddle, in the real world all the pirates would draw their weapons and fight till the last one rmains standing. youd say “youre being so illogical, just follow the answer everybody ends off better” yet the real world doesnt work that way.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 17, 2010, 1:50 AM

                      Oh my science, I am using logic and reasoning to make sense of the world. Oh no! Run! Run away! How dare I do something like that.

                      What kind of a reponse is that to me? Your entire argument basically comes down to saying that: People do not apply logical reasoning to everything that they do. And then you conclude that I am foolish because that is not how the “real world” (whatever that means) works.

                      Who cares how the “real world” works. In the real world people are nationalistic. In the real world people believe genetic relationship to other people is more important than their individual charachter. In the real world people believe in Aliens. In the real world people believe that toy guns should be banned but real guns are okay. In the real world people believe that video games should be banned because they have guns in them but they have guns themselves. And so on and so on. The “real world” that you describe is dumb. The way to escape this stupitiy is to apply rationality and empirical evidence. That is the only way to decide, with effort, what is true and not true. This is what philosophy and science is about. A serious effort to answer these question. Religion is for lazy people who need answers handed over for them on a golden plate.

                      It seems that you do agree with me that given the two scenarios that I described. The skeptical method of doubt is the more intellectual method to proceed. But now you say it is foolish because that is “not how the real world works”. Though this is no response, as I refuted it above.

                    • John November 17, 2010, 6:49 AM

                      Those are all great examples as to why i am right. though logicaly they dont make sense, unfortunatly the real world is governed by logic. People maintain beliefs until proven false we dont reevaluate our beliefs from scratch on a day to day basis, that is all i am saying. As in the case of the name, we assume our name is the name our parents called us, we dont say “wait, actually i have never seen my birth certificate, i dont know my name”

                      As an aside I dont agree with your assessment that “I have never see a justification for Judaism” But that is complelty beside the point.
                      You ignored, the pirate riddle, do you not like it? Are you mad you cant figure it out?

                    • John November 17, 2010, 6:51 AM

                      *isnt governed by logic…

                    • John November 17, 2010, 3:51 PM

                      I’m not sure what you mean “we have established…” Of course I dont understand god, i never claimed too. I havent met a belivng person who claims to understand God.
                      You arent foolish beciuse you are an athist. (you are an athiest becasue you are foolish but i never said that either) You are foolish becasue you arent capable of reasoning things through. You have a firm grasp of theoretical logic (You are probably an economist of some sort, yet are desperatly trying to figure out where your economic model failed so miserably) but have trouble interacting with real people, and applying your logic to real situations.
                      ets look at our previous example, i explained my self quite well yet it took you some 10 exchanges to understand me and finaly reply coherently. This isnt the first time that this happned in fact by my count it is the 3rd. That is why you are foolish.
                      the discussion of nature being evil is one of semantics. Can something inanimate be evil?
                      Moreover, God isnt evil becasue we believe there is some inherent good. Though very often it is hard or even impossible to see. Antoher approach: A buisness owner hires a manager and a janitor. The manager gets a fancy office, honor, nice salary etc etc. The Janitor gets a closet and just above minum wage. Is the owner discriminating against the janitor? Do you at least see, how one could argue that that isnt discrimination, each has an assigned role?
                      At any rate we are straying further and further from the point. I am not trying to convince you of god’s goodness, you dont even believe in his existence! All I am saying is that I believe god is good, therfore of course i should follow his command even when i dont understand it. Is that really so hard to understand?
                      If you cant understand then yes you are foolish.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 22, 2010, 1:32 AM

                      “People maintain beliefs until proven false we dont reevaluate our beliefs from scratch on a day to day basis, that is all i am saying.”:

                      What people do and do not do is irrelevant in determining what is true and what is not true. The skeptical method is against human nature. So what?

                      “You ignored, the pirate riddle, do you not like it?”:

                      I seen it like 10 years ago.

                      The rest of what you said is entirely unrelated to what I asked you previously. Let me state the two cases again and I want you to tell me which is the most intellectual approach to the situation:

                      Case 1: “I see lots of people around me who are not Jewish. They live fine lives. They have a very different life from me. They do not believe in what I believe. I never seen a justification for Judaism. Therefore, I will continue to believe in Judaism until they can come over to me and show me why I am wrong.”

                      Case 2: “I see lots of people around me who are not Jewish. They live fine lives. They have a very different life from me. They do not believe in what I believe. I never seen a justification for Judaism. Therefore, I need to re-examine my beliefs so that I can confirm for myself that what I believe in is true”.

                      Do not move away to different discussions. This is what we were discussing. I asked you a simple question. Which one of these two approaches is the more intellectual one.

                    • John November 22, 2010, 6:46 AM

                      So what? what do you mean so what that is exactly what we are discussing.
                      and everything i said is directly linked to our discussion, i am not moving on to anything else, please dnt pretent that i am.
                      I answered your question (i always do)
                      The two approaches are equally inellectual. and even if they werent it still wouldnt matter, as ive explained in my previous reply to you.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 26, 2010, 1:41 AM

                      “The two approaches are equally inellectual.”

                      If you really think these approaches are equally intellectual then you are really dumb, and not wonder you are religious.

                      You mean to tell me that the unquestioning believer in the first case is equal to his intellect to the questioning and open-minded person in the second case? You really mean to tell me this?

                      Do I really need to explain to you why you are wrong? I think you can figure it out on your own.

                      “and even if they werent it still wouldnt matter:”

                      Another reason why you are religious than a skeptic. Because it does not matter to you. Who cares which method is a better method at arriving to truth? Who cares about that non-sense, right? Just be quiet and be obedient and keep your beliefs without questioning them. That is your way to proceed.

                    • Anonymous November 26, 2010, 12:00 PM

                      wrong and wrong. I’ll try again to walk you through this, but you have to promise to hold my hand so you dont get lost again.
                      You misunderstood my line “and even if they werent it still wouldnt matter:” I meant it wouldnt matter in our conversation which approach was intellectualy superior. i never claimed that the theist who maintains his approach is intellectualy superior, ie we are not discussing which is intellectualy superior (scroll back if you dont believe me) That is what i meant by “it doesnt matter”
                      now back to your first point, allow me to explain using my name-example again:

                      We encounter two children and ask them theyre names
                      Case 1: “I see lots of people around me who have many different names. They live fine lives. They have a very different name from me. They do not have the same name as I. I never seen a justification for my name (ie a birth certificate). Therefore, I will continue to believe the name I think is mine until they can come over to me and show me why I am wrong.”

                      Case 2: “I see lots of people around me who have differnt names. They live fine lives. They have a very different name from me. They do not have the same name as I. I never seen a justification for my name (ie a birth certificate). Therefore, I need to re-examine my name so that I can confirm for myself that that is actually my name”.

                      which is intellectualy supperior/ Does it matter? do you see why just becasue you phrase things the way you do doesnt make it intellectualy supperior.

                      now dont get lost because, as i’ve explained to you in the begining of this post we arent discussing which is intellectualy supperior, even if case 2 was it still wouldnt matter, and my original comment would hold true.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 30, 2010, 1:47 AM

                      Your name example is fail. I have refuted it before. Stop using it. Let me refute it again.

                      Your name is not a statement of truth. It is a definition. My name is Adolf. Whether or not my name is Adolf or not is irrelevent. That is just what my parents decided to call me. It is not a statement of truth. If it turned out my name was Haman instead it would not matter. Judaism is a statement of truth. Therefore, it matters what your parents tell you. Just because they tell you it is true does not mean so, they may have been brainwashed also.

                      Now you might ask me how do I know that my name, Adolf, is the same official name that I have if I did not see it registered? Very simple. I trust my parents. If my parents told me that my name is Adolf then I believe them. Why should they lie to me?

                      This argument cannot be applied to Judaism. Because even if your parents believed that they taught you the truth (Judaism) then it does not make Judaism true. Your parents can be honest but be wrong. A name is different, it is just a definition, not a statement of truth.

                      You still have not answered my question. The first case is the case of a Jew who does not question his beliefs and just accepts them as they are. The second case is a critical thinker who carefully questions and demands justification for his beliefs. I asked you a very simple question. Who of these two people is intellectually superior? Answer it. Do not dodge the question by inventing nonsense scenarios that I have refuted before.

                    • John November 30, 2010, 6:52 AM

                      I have addressed your “refutation” of my example before, i shall do so again.
                      A nam is a statment of truth, in the sense that someplace (on a birth certificate) you have a name which is your actual name. try telling the DMV you want your license to say “skepticbutjewish” since it is no more a statment of truth than your real name and see what happens.
                      I answerd you both are equally intellectualy supperio.
                      (I always always answer your question its fun beating you over and over, it is you who is afraid of answering question, not me)
                      I then went on to explain to you, that we arent discussing which is intellectualy supperior so it doesnt matter, though i have abswered your question as always

                    • SkepticButJewish December 5, 2010, 1:47 AM

                      You seriously think that believing your parents over your name is just as equal to believing them over what they teach you about Judaism? You seriously believe in this non-sense?

                      I believe that my name is Adolf because my parents told me my name is Adolf. That is why I believe in it. Is that so hard?

                      But you cannot use the same argument with regard to Judaism. You cannot say you believe in Judaism because your parents told you it is true.

                      Do I really need to explain this point? Are you seriously unable to understand so simple as this concept?

                      “I answerd you both are equally intellectualy supperior.”:

                      Then you are being foolish. You just admitted that being closed-minded, not being skeptical, not questioning is just as intellectually superior to one who is open-minded, one who is skeptical, and one who does question his beliefs. You just admitted this.

                    • John December 5, 2010, 8:15 AM

                      yep thats true, and keep in mind youve addmited the same exact thing in the name-example “I believe that my name is Adolf because my parents told me my name is Adolf. That is why I believe in it.” without any skeptiscim or questioning of beliefs, in other words there are some case where you too trust your parents blindly and dont see any fault in that. Belief in isnt rational, I never claimed it is, it is a leap of faith of made as a result of what my parents taught me and their parents taught them etc..

                      And again, dont get caught up on the previous point, you keep forgetting that we arent discussing which is intellectually superior, that is complelty irrelevant to my original point

                    • SkepticButJewish December 19, 2010, 6:44 AM

                      “yep thats true, and keep in mind youve addmited the same exact thing in the name-example “I believe that my name is Adolf because my parents told me my name is Adolf. That is why I believe in it.” without any skeptiscim or questioning of beliefs, in other words there are some case where you too trust your parents blindly and dont see any fault in that. Belief in isnt rational, I never claimed it is, it is a leap of faith of made as a result of what my parents taught me and their parents taught them etc..

                      And again, dont get caught up on the previous point, you keep forgetting that we arent discussing which is intellectually superior, that is complelty irrelevant to my original point”

                      It is sad, because I posted a response to you. It went through. But somehow it never appeared on this site. So I guess I have to post another one, hopefully it will come through.

                      I believe that my name is Adolf because my parents told me my name is Adolf. Why am I not skeptical? Because I trust them. I have a good reason to trust them. They picked my name to be Adolf, and so I trust them.

                      Trust is okay to use. I also trust people when they tell me what time it is. I do not turn into some skeptical and ignore what they say.

                      But you cannot make this comparision with religion. Your parents can tell you about Judaism. And I am sure they are honest and do not lie about it. However, with regard to Judaism they may be mistaken. The same cannot happen with your name.

                      You have admitted of not using the skeptical method and being closed-minded with regard to your belief system. This means if you were born in a Christian family you would be repeating Christian non-sense. And if you were born in a Muslim family you would be repeating Islam non-sense. Thus, the fact that you are Jewish is a mere accident of geography.

                  • John October 23, 2010, 7:42 PM

                    Buddy dont get caught up on the example it is supposed to help you, if you find faults in it let it go.
                    maybe the earlier example (again also imperfect) may help: Do you believe your father is actually your father? I assume so, and why not you grew up being told that he was your father, thus there is no fault in following that position until it is proven otherwise. Now lets take this a step further, suppose I tell you actually I am your father. Would you turn to your father and demand proof? probably not, i imagine you would demand proof from me, and until I provided said proof you would fall back on your default position (which you were not born with, but rather was told or better yet indoctrinated to you) and assume the man you grew up with to be your father.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 11:13 PM

                      “Buddy dont get caught up on the example it is supposed to help you, if you find faults in it let it go.”:

                      Why are you moving on to a different example? I just refuted your example with the person on the island and explain how everything I said still applies.

                      The same exact answer is to the father question. I believe my father is my father. That is not a default position. That is a belief. Since it is belief it needs to be justified in some way. I justified it by simply trusting my parents, I see no reason for them to lie, of course I do not really know that, and I do not care, but that is a good enough reason to believe my parents are my actual parents. When I accept my parents are my real parents then I am forming a belief. I form that belief because I trust them and I assume that they are not trying to decieve me. If a stranger was to tell me that he is my father then I will be skeptical because I have no reason to trust him.

                      Is this so hard to understand?

                    • John October 24, 2010, 12:16 AM

                      Im not moving on to another example, its the first example i gave and scondly the example isnt the point if you dont like it you havent “refuted” anything. It just isnt working to help you understand the obvious. (i suspect that it is you are just being stubborn)
                      Its not hard to understand at all in fact allow me to reqoute your response just applying it to our discussion:
                      I believe there is a God. That is a belief which then becomes a default position by the time this conversation begins. Since it is belief it needs to be justified in some way. I justified it by simply trusting my parents, I see no reason for them to lie, of course I do not really know that, and I do not care, but that is a good enough reason to believe there is a God. When I accept the existence of a creator then I am forming a belief. I form that belief because I trust them and I assume that they are not trying to decieve me. If a stranger was to tell me that there is no god I will be skeptical because I have no reason to trust him, until he proves otherwise.
                      It isnt hard to understand at all. again if you dont like the example thats ok, move on just realize that when this conversation began. Ie when a believing person (me ) encountred you, i already had a default position of belief. That is all i am saying

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:24 AM

                      The default position is not believing anything, there is no stance you took.

                      Your parents indoctrinated you to believe in Judaism. That is a belief that developed in you – not for good reasons.

                      Your parents probably did not lie to you about Judaism. They are honest about it. However, it does not mean they are right about it. Parents are wrong on a lot of things. Why should Judaism be an exception. Judaism is a belief that you have. Therefore, like all beliefs, you must challenge it and try to confirm it.

                      If you tell me that your beliefs are correct then you must give support for them. If you cannot give support for them then I do not have to accept them. If I tell you that proper way of understanding the universe is naturalistically, then you can ask me for a reason why I hold such a belief. But your belief in Judaism is not default. It had to be formed.

                    • Mahla November 30, 2010, 10:57 AM

                      “Obi-Wan never told you the truth about your father.”
                      “He told me enough! He told me YOU killed him!”
                      “No — *I* am your father.”
                      “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

                      LOL, okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming. ;^D

                  • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 11:16 PM

                    “Ok now we are getting somewhere, I think you finnaly understand what weve been discussing.
                    santa from the get go is made up, ie the parents who tell their kids about it later tell their kids they made it up. that is the equivalent to your own father telling you he actually isnt your father. It wouldnt make sense to maintain a belief once you discover the entire source for the belief is addmitedly made up. “:

                    You are contradicting yourself.

                    Suppose your parents taught you about Santa. Then they died. You were 12 and thought Santa were real. Then you become 21 years old and still believe Santa is real.

                    According to you, you should maintain that belief in Santa unless someone comes along and tells you why Santa is not real?

                    If you say “yes” then you are being stupid. If you say “no” then you just agreed with everything I was saying above.

                • S.H. October 20, 2010, 10:38 AM

                  You have it backwards, skeptic. History has proven over and over again and the default position is a belief in God. Every society in history prior to the 1800s came to the independent belief in a Deity of some sort. If a complex machine exists, the default position is that it was created by something intelligent. The burden is on atheists to prove something other than the most complex machines conceivable arising via spontaneous generation.

                  • SkepticButJewish October 20, 2010, 10:46 PM

                    “You have it backwards, skeptic. History has proven over and over again and the default position is a belief in God. Every society in history prior to the 1800s came to the independent belief in a Deity of some sort. If a complex machine exists, the default position is that it was created by something intelligent.”:

                    What most people believed does not mean anything. Most people believe the Sun went arond the earth at one point in history. The default position for a philosophical and thinking person is always doubt, not superstition.

                    “The burden is on atheists to prove something other than the most complex machines conceivable arising via spontaneous generation.”:

                    Atheism does not make a positive claim. So you cannot ask them to prove anything. If an atheist makes the claim that life arose without a complex designer, then yes, you are correct to say that he needs a proof of that claim. But the prove of that claim has been offered through the theory of natural selection. The only problem is that you religious people are too closed-minded to accept these conclusions and want to skip to your old religious beliefs.

                    Finally, even if God does exist, then it is most probably a deistic concept of God. But deism is essentially atheism. It has absolutely nothing with the evil, blood thirsty, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, genocidal, vicious, cruel, angry, YahWeh of the Old Testament.

                    • S.H. October 21, 2010, 12:43 PM

                      Natural selection still ultimately relies on spontaneous generation as its backbone and purports no theory as to the origin of the matter/energy/whatever that caused the Big Bang. It has no real answers, it just pushes the questions a little father onto the back burner.

                      Okay, so you belong to the Church of “I don’t know.” Fair enough. But “probably” this and “probably” that is meaningless. You have questions. People have answers that have been passed down from generation to generation from Sinai. You don’t buy the answers. So, you reject them and sit on your questions. Fine. Your choice. But to somehow believe that your position is any more inherently correct than any other is a fallacy.

                      Also, your private, societally ingrained views of morality are irrelevant when deciding whether a Deity exists and in what form. To reject a Deity simply because you don’t like his morals is like rejecting a light bulb because you refuse to believe that an electric current can pass through such a thin filament.

                      Ultimately, it comes down to whether you want to accept your mesorah that was passed down from generation to generation or not. If you want to, fine. If not, no one can prove that you must. Ranting about “probablies” and private morality is irrelevant.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 4:18 PM

                      “Natural selection still ultimately relies on spontaneous generation as its backbone and purports no theory as to the origin of the matter/energy/whatever that caused the Big Bang. “:

                      It does not rely on spontanous generation. Evolution has nothing to do with the big bang and it nothing to do with abiogensis. Stop listening to you preaches and Rabbis, learn to think for yourself by picking up a book on evolution to understand what it all means.

                      “You have questions. People have answers that have been passed down from generation to generation from Sinai.”:

                      No you do not. There was no answers from Sinai. How about your convince me that the events of Sinai are true. And do not use the argument that there were millions of witnesses. I ripped up that argument a long time ago on my blog if you want to read it. It is a failed argument.

                    • Anonymous October 21, 2010, 4:46 PM

                      you dont, you try but you dont even come close. (Unless i read the wrong post)

                    • Yankel October 22, 2010, 9:10 AM

                      “I ripped up that argument a long time ago on my blog if you want to read it. It is a failed argument.”

                      I just read your blog.
                      To put it mildly, based on what you wrote here, your opinions resemble that of a 6 year old insisting he wants a candy and not being rational about the fact that it’s before dinner.
                      Similarly, you keep repeating your weak and senseless unfounded arguments, no matter how many times or different ways things are logically explained to you.

                      Now your blog is a whole different story.
                      There you take bring out a whole new meaning to the term “nonsense”.
                      I would have a difficult time believing that anybody wrote those thoughts seriously. And I see you presenting the most idiotic premises, with even more idiotic proofs, and to my surprise you actually believe the things you’re saying.

                      Oh wait sorry, you “ripped apart the argument for Judaism”, I believe that was your statement.
                      Buddy, I don’t know what you ripped while you wrote that retardedness, but I hope those in the vicinity had nose-plugs.

                      Normally I would agree to attack the argument and not the person, but how do you even begin to reason with someone who insists he is the Messiah, or that he’s Elvis, or that he’s the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, or that he’s really on orange?

                      When you notice that someone is capable of truly believing that which is so exaggeratedly distant from reality and common sense, you just say:
                      Reb Yid – you’re nuts. Have a good day, and refuah sheleima.
                      Even though you know he’ll walk away thinking “this idiot doesn’t realize what’s going on here, how can he be so blind? Can’t he see I’m Elvis?” – there’s just no way to get him to see reality, so don’t bother.

                      Reasoning was intended for reasonable people.
                      I wish I had read your blog earlier so I wouldn’t have wasted my time trying to explain to you that you’re not Elvis.

                      By the way, I don’t suggest that anyone read it , unless perhaps for entertainment.

                      (Oh, and nice poll you got there on top of every page. You’re even sicker and more of a filthy pervert than I imagined.)

                      I really hope you get help. I’m totally serious.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 12:15 PM

                      Yankel, at least I do not believe in talking snakes in magical gardens that had arms and legs.

                    • Yankel October 23, 2010, 3:02 PM

                      Reb Yid – you’re nuts. Have a good day, and refuah sheleima.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 6:59 PM

                      Yankel, and what about you? You believe that people can live up to the age of 900. That is not crazy?

                    • Yankel October 24, 2010, 1:51 AM

                      If my beliefs would start and end with that, then you would be 100% justified in considering them irrational.

                      But like you tend to do, you’re taking an example out of context. The “snake” I believe spoke and had hands and feet, was not the same thing as the snake you find slithering on the floor in 2010.

                      It was a spiritual event, happening in a realm invisible to our eyes, and which was related to us (and I mean by that – you and I) by the Infinite one.

                      There’s nothing inherently not believable about it or any part of it. Foreign – perhaps. Irrational – not at all. It just needs some backing up to insure that the Infinite one actually told this to us, which is our actual point of contention.

                      Thousands of years of great untouchable Jewish minds as well as myself are of the opinion that we do in fact have such evidence.

                      You and Dawkins try to convince yourselves otherwise.

                      Oh excuse me, I meant to say you “ripped up that argument a long time ago”.

                      Even the “talking snake” version you attempted to present as my belief is more believable than some of the things you say there.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:20 PM

                      So Yankel, you do believe in talking snakes with arms and legs? Hahaha. What silliness.

                      Wait, do you also think that people lived up to the age of 900 years old despite the fact that no document person can live so long to?

                      And do you also believe there was a race of giants thousands of years ago? And somehow we never found their remains?

                    • Yankel October 24, 2010, 2:45 PM

                      “So Yankel, you do believe in talking snakes with arms and legs? Hahaha. What silliness.”

                      I thought I explained to you that “snake” and “arm” and “legs” are spiritual concepts, and not the physical ones we know of.

                      Besides, what kind of logic is that?

                      The world was different then. Does it make any more sense for a human to speak than a snake? It’s only because you’re used to humans speaking that you view it as the norm.

                      “Wait, do you also think that people lived up to the age of 900 years old despite the fact that no document person can live so long to?”

                      Yes. Nature is run by G-d, not the other way around.

                      “And do you also believe there was a race of giants thousands of years ago? And somehow we never found their remains?”

                      Yes. Nature is run by G-d, not the other way around.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 11:58 PM

                      “The world was different then.”:

                      Explain. How do you know? Why were there miracles thousands of years ago and then suddenly there are no miracles today? Most likely answer is that: there are no miracles.

                      “Does it make any more sense for a human to speak than a snake? It’s only because you’re used to humans speaking that you view it as the norm.”:

                      Yes it does make more sense for humans to talk. Because, let us see, hmm, oh right, because we see that human being talk. Have you ever seen a talking snake in your life? Snakes are dumb beasts and have no vocal cords. How can you possibly be so silly to believe in this bed time story for little children?

                    • Yankel October 25, 2010, 3:40 AM

                      “Explain. How do you know?”
                      I know because:
                      a) witness accounts have been passed down to me.
                      b) G-d told me so in His Torah

                      “Why were there miracles thousands of years ago and then suddenly there are no miracles today? Most likely answer is that: there are no miracles.”

                      There are no miracles today because there is no purpose in them.
                      There was a period of about 1300 years when miracles occured – publicly, in fact the chumash states that one can only be accepted as a prophet if he performs a miracle publicly. And even then, if he prophesizes anything against the Torah he is no longer accepted.

                      “Does it make any more sense for a human to speak than a snake? It’s only because you’re used to humans speaking that you view it as the norm.”:

                      Yes it does make more sense for humans to talk. Because, let us see, hmm, oh right, because we see that human being talk. Have you ever seen a talking snake in your life? Snakes are dumb beasts and have no vocal cords. How can you possibly be so silly to believe in this bed time story for little children?

                      That’s right they don’t have proper intelligence, and they don’t have vocal chords.
                      My question WAS, is there anything inherent about humans which makes it more believable that they developed vocal chords and intelligence, as opposed to snakes?
                      No. You’re just used to humans, so that sits well with you.
                      There’s nothing ‘unbelievable’ about a snake talking in theory – if it were given the capability to.
                      We believe G-d did in fact give it the capability to.
                      You insist that it’s not possible.
                      I’m telling you it’s all dependent on G0d, so if you believe he’s there – nothings impossible. If you don’t – nothing is possible (quite literally). However, we can’t deny what our eyes see, and we see existance, so we must make an exception to the conclusion of our vision – but no other exceptions!

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 12:40 AM

                      “I know because:
                      a) witness accounts have been passed down to me.”:

                      Where you a witness?

                      “b) G-d told me so in His Torah”:

                      Circular reasoning.

            • Yankel October 19, 2010, 6:03 PM

              SkepticButJewish,
              What your saying has some truth – I’ll admit, albiet from a very superficial standpoint.
              The real truth is, children are by default indoctrinated with some ideology or another.
              Not only from parents, not only from family, but from everywhere. Friends, society, TV, movies, and last but not least…. School.

              I am pretty confident, that if children were to be told honestly in school “We don’t really know where we or this whole universe come from, some people have had some wild ideas, but nothing even remotely logical” – instead of the science INDOCTRINATION, the majority would come to some belief of G-d on their own.

              But we don’t do that. We tell them what to think, and without giving them a chance to ponder the question – we start teaching them of the big bang and evoloution as if it’s fact.

              Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against science. I think it is an absolute must for children to understand it’s wonders.
              I just think to avoid the indoctrination, they should be properly informed.

              • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:22 PM

                “instead of the science INDOCTRINATION, the majority would come to some belief of G-d on their own.”

                Maybe. But how many do you really think will believe that Judaism is true? Be honest. You really think kids will believe in a talking snake in a magical garden if they were not indoctrinated by their parents?

                • Yankel October 20, 2010, 7:01 AM

                  Who’s talking about Judaism here?
                  That’s another discussion, which would have to be
                  had taking into account the conclusions drawn from the more general “existance of a G-d” investigation.

                  Were discussing believing in existance of a G-d vs. Atheism.
                  This is all based on your statement that non-belief in a G-d is the default position – which I believe is incorrect for reasons stated above.

                  • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 12:13 PM

                    Yankel, you are a retard. You talk about how children cannot be indoctrinated and then conclude that atheists must vindicate themselves. Why must you as a theist take that advantage. You talk about indoctrination but never consider the indoctrination of God or religion. Inconsistency.

                    • Dovybear October 21, 2010, 1:02 PM

                      Of course, ad hominem attacks are the best way to showcase your utterly unbiased intellectual honesty and depth of philosophical speculation, as we all know.

                    • Yankel October 21, 2010, 2:17 PM

                      Firstly, let me quote SkepticButJewish:
                      “Attack the argument not the person”.
                      Talk about inconsistancy.

                      I never claimed to be against religious indoctrination. In fact, unless it is mandatory to your particular religion to allow every person to come to his or her own realization of the doctrine, I would consider it irresponsible not to indoctrinate your children with it. If you really believe it – pass it on.

                      My problem is with those who claim to base their beliefs solely on logic, evidence, and the inclinations of their thoughts.

                      If you really believe in letting every person come to the “default human belief” (which you seem to believe is not believing in a G-d), then it is hypocritical to mess with childrens beliefs before they can develop their own ideas and conclusions. If it is in fact the default – they will come to it by themselves. If it’s not – then it’s wrong to indoctrinate them with it based on your own opinions of “logic”.

                      I never said Judaism or any other specific religion is the default belief. I just said “belief in a higher being” is likely to be the result of allowing people to think for themselves.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 4:22 PM

                      “Of course, ad hominem attacks.”:

                      Ad hominen is not when someone is insulted. Ad hominen is when an insult is used in place of an argument. If you delete my insults. There is an argument.

                      However, some of the people here complaining about my charachter do not use arguments against me. Because if you delete their attacks on my charachter, then you have no argument left.

                      It is okay to insult people. I do not care if you throw insults at me. As long as you can back them up with good arguments – which you fail miserably at doing. I do not complain when people throw insults at me, I am not a pussy to complain about that. I just want you to stick to arguments.

                      All argument, no insult, too boring. All insult, no argument, is ad hominen. I like to mix the two up because it makes it more fun.

    • Guest October 19, 2010, 11:43 AM

      “Atheism is the default position.”

      Open to debate:
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/3512686/Children-are-born-believers-in-God-academic-claims.html

      Heshy, you brought out the idealogues with this one.

      • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:23 PM

        That Academic is a retard. A child is not born believing anything. It has an empty mind. That mind must be taught with information. Sometimes the information is true and some information is false (like religion). But no child is born believing anything.

        • Yankel October 20, 2010, 7:12 AM

          I’ve noticed that you state your opinions as fact.
          You may believe that all religious beliefs are false, but you can’t state that as fact unless it’s proven.
          I will (perhaps inappropriately) take the liberty to stereo-type you, and assume that you, like the vast majority of people who state their own opinions as fact, have strong emotional feelings pushing you to believe what you do on the subject, and are not approaching the questions fairly and logically.

          • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 12:04 PM

            “I’ve noticed that you state your opinions as fact.”:

            Yes, I do. I am like the Torah. The Torah also states everything as a fact. Do not like my personality? Well then, do not like the Torah. God is a bigger douchebag then I am. Because unlike God, I may be insulting, but I do not kill others.

            “You may believe that all religious beliefs are false, but you can’t state that as fact unless it’s proven.”:

            Yes all religions are false. I do not need to prove anything. You tell me “God exists and Judaism is true!”. So show me why that is true. You never prove why that is true. What can be stated without evidence can just as easily be dismissed without any evidence. Besides I do prove that Judaism is false, just read my blog.

            “I will (perhaps inappropriately) take the liberty to stereo-type you, and assume that you, like the vast majority of people who state their own opinions as fact, have strong emotional feelings pushing you to believe what you do on the subject, and are not approaching the questions fairly and logically.”:

            Attack the argument, not the person. I may be crazy and stupid. But my arguments can still be right. Who cares if I state “my opinions as if it was a fact” (whatever that even means”. Do not like what I say? Then dismiss my points, stop focusing on my personality.

            • Anonymous October 21, 2010, 12:27 PM

              Skeptic, You dont have points and you dont have arguments, you merely repeat your opinion over and over as if it is fact. Look at your conversatio n with John. For some reason he tries to expaling his point to you yet you repeat your same orignal point (which he isnt arguing) over and over

              • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 4:30 PM

                ” For some reason he tries to expaling his point to you yet you repeat your same orignal point (which he isnt arguing) over and over.”:

                And if he is mistaken am I supposed to move on to something else or correct the mistake that he has?

            • Yankel October 21, 2010, 2:32 PM

              I’m not dismissing your arguments here. This was more of a personal suggestion that perhaps you should spend some quality time pondering the real reasons you believe the things you do, and if they are perhaps emotional feedback from your feelings rather than valid conclusions.

              If G-d says something (for you that’s to assume he exists) it means he’s sure about it. That’s one of the very many cool things about being infinite and perfect.
              Pretty lame of you to compare yourself to G-d.

              And you do kill.
              You kill yourself.

              • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 4:26 PM

                “Pretty lame of you to compare yourself to G-d.”:

                My personality is exactly like the personality of the God charachter from the Torah. In fact, I am better than God. God kills people. I do not.

                “And you do kill. You kill yourself.”:

                First of all I have no idea what that means. Second of all, so what? If I kill myself that is okay. Because it is my life. Let me axe you a question. If God told you to kill your kids would you do it?

                • John October 21, 2010, 4:29 PM

                  God doesnt have a personality. by definition

                  • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 4:32 PM

                    God kills People. More people than I ever killed (which is 0).

                    And John. If God told you to kill Amalek would you do it? Would you kill a baby Amelekite if God told you to do it?

                    So who is worse? Me, who is a douchebag, but never hurts anybody, or God who kills or commands others to kill.

                    • John October 21, 2010, 4:41 PM

                      Im confused, If God told YOU to kill a baby Amelekite you would’nt do it?
                      (Remeber we are talking about the Jewish God, who defines righetousness and truth)

                    • John October 21, 2010, 7:31 PM

                      Btw, you are making another mistaken assumption.
                      Namely that killing is always wrong. There are times when killing would be justified. i’m sure you could think of at least one, make it as extreme as possible, but you could find one.
                      For example if you and I each had the opportunity to prevent someone from detonating a bomb and killing millions, you stand by and let it happen. I kill my guy saving millions. Although you have killed zero people and I killed one, i a more righetous.
                      god is righetous in all his ways. If you are willing to accept that there is a God and he kills people, accepting that in some way that we cant understand it is justified shouldnt be that much harder

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 11:18 PM

                      John, do not avoid my question.

                      God told you to kill baby Amalekites. Would you do it? It is a simple question. Answer it. Do not act stupid, you know what I am asking.

                    • john October 22, 2010, 6:50 AM

                      Im not avoiding (thats your tactic remember), i’m sorry i thought my answer was clear.
                      Of course i would, in fact Im pretty certain you would. Accepting that a righetous god who was all virtous and righetous told you to do it, being a decent human being of course youd listen. i hope. wouldnt you?

                    • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 12:20 PM

                      So according to you. If there was an Amalekite baby that did absolutely nothing wrong to anyone. And God told you to kill it and brutally murder it. You would do it with no questions asked. You are a scary person. You are not capable of individual thinking. You are a little slave to God. God tells you and you obey, without thinking is through itself.

                      At least you are honest. At least you admitted that you would listen to such an evil commandment and obey.

                    • John October 23, 2010, 7:32 PM

                      Skeptic note how you have not answered my question (classic of you). About whether you would listen to an all knowing, righetous and just god who told you to do something you fund distasteful
                      I have another one which i doubt you will answer: Suppose you use a time-machine and find yourself in a maternity ward in Austria in 1898. In front of you is a cute little baby Adolf Hitler, would you let it live?
                      if yes – then we are no different both would kill innocent babies.
                      If no – I am glad we are different you are a heartless barbarian

                    • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 11:20 PM

                      “About whether you would listen to an all knowing, righetous and just god who told you to do something you fund distasteful”:

                      No. I would give God the middle finger. I will not let him use me for his own amusement. He is a facist and a dictator. Because if you do not listen to him, he will tortue you. He will inflict pain and suffering over you. If that is what you mean by “righteous” then I am scared to know what you think by “evil”.

                      “Suppose you use a time-machine and find yourself in a maternity ward in Austria in 1898. In front of you is a cute little baby Adolf Hitler, would you let it live?”:

                      Yes, I would let it live. Because baby Hitler did not do anything yet. I will kidnap him, probably, and just give him up for adoption, or raise him myself, if I had to do something about it. Killing is always the last option.

                      Besides this question is decietful. Because I can ask you this. Let us suppose that Yahweh tells you to kill a baby or a person, whatever. And God says that this baby is not dangerous. It will never do harm another person. God just wants to test you if you will listen and do as he says. Would you still do it?

                      Answer this question: Do you think adulters should be stoned?

                    • John October 24, 2010, 12:23 AM

                      Dont be that guy who throws in other options. Letting hitler live when you know what he will do is pure evil. so i am glad not to be linked with you.
                      You are missing something with the question about god, in my question. god IS righeous there is no “if that is what you mean by righetous” i dont mean anything god tells us. If you accept that god is righetous (a premise of my question) yet wouldnt follow his command, that makes you evil. doesnt it?
                      the question isnt decietful at all. you are assuming that all of god’s commands have to make sense to us. They do not, and we follow them anyway.
                      as for the adulterer, with eidim and hasrah and sanhedrin etc.. of course!! Though keep in mind it is a very rare occurance see makos 7a

                    • John October 24, 2010, 12:24 AM

                      To be clear about the adulteres. It doesnt matter what i think. god says to stone

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:33 AM

                      Then you are a much worse person than I am. I may be disrespectful and insult people but I never plan to kill anyone. I am bad, but you are much worse.

                      You would kill people. You think that it is correct to kill adulterous. And you think it is okay to kill innocent people just because they happened to have been born in the wrong country of Amalek.

                      You think it is also okay to kill homosexuals that have sex together? They should be stoned to death (or whatever the punishment is)? Do you think the Arabs in the Middle East have it right when they kill practising homosexuals in their country?

                      Do you think that I should be killed also? I am a blashphemer. I blashpheme God. Gemara Sanhedrin says to stone the blashphemer. Therefore, you think that under appropriate Torah Law I should be stoned to death?

                      Is God such a pussy that he cannot handle me himself? Why must he have people like you carry out the executions on blashphemers like me? The most likely answer is – he does not exist.

                      But you mentality is dangerous. As Hitchen’s frequently says, “religion makes good people do evil things”. That proves his point. Someone like yourself admitting that he supports of all these murder rituals.

                      You also demonstrated yourself to be a slave to God. Are you a slave to God? If God says, will you obey, no questions asked? If so, then you are a slave to God. You are unable of your own individual thoughts, you are like a drone in some collective that the master needs for himself.

                    • John October 24, 2010, 8:27 AM

                      Slave to God. Thank you! what a complement very few have been righetous enough to be called “eved Hashem” Thank you very much.
                      Religion makes people do evil things, are you high, who have I killed it is all theoretical, theoretical actions dont make me evil. much as you arent evil for theoreticly letting hitler live, which you said you would do.
                      you say “but I never plan to kill anyone” i already explained to you sometimes killing people is unfortunatly the neccesary thing to do. Like the hitler example. or if it was the only way to stop a mass muredere. In those cases (one of which you said you would let the evil occur) not killing is the evil act.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:29 PM

                      Answer my questions.

                      1) Do you agree with the Arab countries when they stone adulterers to death?

                      2) Do you think that men who practice homosexuality should be stoned to death?

                      3) Do you think that I should be executed for being a blashphemer?

                      4) If God told you to kill your children, and it absolutely nothing to do with whether they are evil or not, but just to give you a command, would you kill your children?

                    • Yankel October 24, 2010, 3:06 PM

                      “You also demonstrated yourself to be a slave to God. Are you a slave to God? If God says, will you obey, no questions asked? If so, then you are a slave to God. You are unable of your own individual thoughts, you are like a drone in some collective that the master needs for himself”

                      I’ll deal with this one first, because it’s the living demonstration of your greatest lack of comprehension.

                      We are very much slaves of G-d. Not only people like myself who say it, but those like you who dismiss the possibility as well.

                      The truth is, saying we are “slaves” of G-d doesn’t do justice to the concept. We’re not just slaves, our very existance is dependent solely on G-d’s will.

                      My “own individual thoughts” are worthless if they are incorrect.
                      So are your “individual thoughts” which you hold on to so dearly.

                      “that the master needs for himself”

                      Here your misconception is pretty basic as well.
                      G-d didn’t make this whole “world” thing for his own benefit. He has us in mind. He is perfect and doesn’t need us. Whatever we could possibly do – he can accomplish himself without any effort.

                      So you can either strive to work through the darkness and discover what he sees beneficial for you with this life he gave you,
                      or you can waste all your time running in circles hopping from one baseless argument to the next trying to justify your insistant attitude against Him and recognizing how He really does want what’s best for His creations.

                      We all have difficult aspects of our lives which we simply can’t fit into the category of “good”.
                      But that doesn’t mean we should throw away all the other good things we have and can still do.

                      Being “strong” and “successful” does not mean opposing something which seems greater than us. Although our emotions may often compel us to act that way.

                      Being a great person means overcoming everything and anything which stands to shake us from recognizing who we really are, and what we really want.

                    • John October 24, 2010, 3:12 PM

                      Dont you mean PLEASE answer my questions, man youre rude. But its ok I’m having a blast toying with you. Incidently what did the ER say? are you writing this from the waiting room? tell them its an emergency!!
                      anyway here goes…
                      1) No
                      2) in what context? and what do you mean by “should” deserving of? or actually should.
                      3) ditto
                      4) Id like to think so but I doubt it unfortunatly. You shouldve gone to shul yesterday we read the story of avraham and the akaida. He was able to withsatnd that tremendous nisayon, I doubt i could. Dont worry it had a happy ending, something which apperently was lost on another one of your fellow “skeptics” named puzzled.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 25, 2010, 12:07 AM

                      “1) No”:

                      Why not?

                      “2) in what context? and what do you mean by “should” deserving of? or actually should.”:

                      You know in what context. The Torah and Gemara explain. Also, it is strange that I ask such a simple question and you do not answer “no”. Which suggests that you think in certain contexes homosexuals should be stoned to death. You are a good living evidence of how religion poisons the mind of people.

                      “3) ditto”:

                      This is why I am a better person than you – even though I am godless. Because you think a Sanhedrin should execute me. While I, even though I find you are terrible human being for wanting to treat other people in such a way, will never silence you. I might not agree with what you say but I will give up my life to defend your right to say it. You may not agree with what I say but you will agree with ending my life to stop me from saying it. I am better than you because religion poisoned your mind.

                      “4)Id like to think so but I doubt it unfortunatly.”:

                      You know why you would not do it? Because you are better than Yahweh (even if he existed). Because you have it in you to realize what a pathetic god he is (lucky he does not exist). You not better than me, but you are better than Yahweh.

                    • John October 25, 2010, 6:55 AM

                      1) because there are no eidim hasrah or sanhedrin all of which are rquired to execute people.
                      2) Yes there are certain circumastances where homos should be stoned. but dont worry that wont happen until moshiach comes at which point you will have some serious rethinking to do, so this is just another thing for you to rethink. no big deal. And of course until moshiach comes nobody is being killed and im against it (see question 1) so dont get to0 self righetous after all you previously admited how evil you are.
                      3) you are not better you are extremly evil. Earlier you said you would stand by and let baby Hitler grow up. and you said even if an all righetous god existed you would still not obey righetousness and would do evil instead.
                      4) no such thing and thats not why, and i am much much better than you ( and smarter)

                    • John October 25, 2010, 9:14 AM

                      furthermore skeptic you are very confused, let me try to walk you through this. Your 4th question was: “If God told you to kill your children, and it absolutely nothing to do with whether they are evil or not, but just to give you a command, would you kill your children?” This question and response seemed to bother you the most. Allow me to walk you through it and point out how foolish you are.
                      When you ask “If God told you…” What do you mean by God? you don’t believe in god, so you are asking me, who DOES believe in god, if THAT GOD that i believe in told me… would I listen. Right? so far so good. (If you are referring to any other form of god (ie fake forms) then the answer is obviously no, i would not listen)
                      Now let us move on. That god that i believe in (which again is what your question is referring to.) is righteous, and defines good and evil. If he commands us not to kill, then killing is evil. If he commands us to execute murderers (in the proper context) then executing murderers is good. If he commands us not to eat pork, then eating pork is evil. If he commands us to give lashes to to Jews who eat pork (again, in the proper context) then giving them lashes is good etc you get the picture (I hope). This is the God I refer to, and you do, if your question has any meaning. Again to your question, if this All- righteous God, who defines what is good told me… would i listen. In which case if god told me to kill an Amalekite or my children, as hard as it may be to understand or to do, it is good. Again this is the premise of your question. If you hold any other premise then the question doesnt begin and nor does it make sense. So your question is would I do this Good act though it may be extremely difficult? To which i replied “Id like to think so but I doubt it unfortunately. You shouldve gone to shul yesterday we read the story of avraham and the akaida. He was able to withstand that tremendous nisayon, I doubt i could. ”
                      your response ” ..because you are better..” indicates that you are missing a premise (that God = pure goodness) of your own question. Which again without that premise your question doesn’t begin. you cant have it both ways. In a world where god exists and is pure good then i would follow which is the good thing to do. In your world where you dont believe in god or believe in a God who is commands evil, then again your question doesn’t begin and that isn’t the question I answered.
                      hope this clears up some of your confusion.
                      (i realize that the comment is quite repetitive, but history as shown that even with me spelling out in detail you still have trouble understanding)

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 12:53 AM

                      “1) because there are no eidim hasrah or sanhedrin all of which are rquired to execute people.”:

                      But if there was you should favor executions. So you are no better than the primitive Arabs that practice these executions.

                      “2)dont get to0 self righetous after all you previously admited how evil you are.”:

                      But you do support executions of homos under the correct circumstances. Do not try to hide that under rationalizations about how it is not applicable today, you would support if (which is unlikely) Mashiach comes.

                      “3) you are not better you are extremly evil. “:

                      So says the guy who thinks I should be killed for the things that I say.

                      “Earlier you said you would stand by and let baby Hitler grow up.”:

                      And what is the problem? The problem is not Hitler in and of itself. The problem are his actions. People need to be judged for their actions and beliefs (like your belief to kill practicing homosexuals). If Hitler needed to be stopped by murder to save people I would do so. But baby Hitler did not do anything yet. Instead I would take him so that this problem does not need to develop. What is exactly wrong in this?

                      “and you said even if an all righetous god existed you would still not obey righetousness and would do evil instead”:

                      Yahweh is not righteous. He is a racist, sexist, xenophone, a homophobe, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, and so forth. Yahweh also condones slavery, by the way. And he condones murder for people like me. So Yahweh can go sit on my middle finger. That is not righteous, that is purely evil to the extreme. And the only reason why you agree with his commandments is because you are brainwashed by religion. If you were born in Iraq you would probably be a Muslim. If in Texas, probably a Christian. You just accepted what your parents taught you and now have your mind poisoned.

                      “4) no such thing and thats not why, and i am much much better than you ( and smarter)”:

                      So says the person who thinks I should be executed for the things that I say. So says the person who thinks that if a person believed in Santa ever since a kid he should continue believing in it unless someone can show him why he is wrong.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 11:18 PM

                      I replied to this yesterday and nothing went through. I waited a day and still nothing appeared again. I am not sure if this comment will appear again.

                    • John October 27, 2010, 7:03 AM

                      1) By definition today there arent sanhedrin, this isnt a technicality, this is a requirment before anybody is executed. Thus I am against arabs killing homos.
                      2) “you would support if (which is unlikely) Mashiach comes” If/when moshiach comes you will have some serious rethinking to do. If not, whats the harm nobody is getting harmed at all.
                      3) “So says the guy who thinks I should be killed for the things that I say” I dont think so, god says so.
                      “That is not righteous, that is purely evil to the extreme”
                      I showed you how stupid this comment was in my response to question #4 above which you havent addresses yet.
                      3)

                    • SkepticButJewish October 29, 2010, 1:15 AM

                      “By definition today there arent sanhedrin, this isnt a technicality, this is a requirment before anybody is executed. Thus I am against arabs killing homos.”:

                      And if they did exist you would be in favor of killing homos. Right? If so, then you are a rather despicable person. Much worse than I am.

                      “If/when moshiach comes you will have some serious rethinking to do.”:

                      Yes, like he was been coming for the past 2000 years. Believe in your non-sense stories.

                      Furthermore, the fact that he comes does not change that homos will be executed, for example. If Maschiach would want a legal system that executes people then he is a despicable person like yourself. But I guess you like that, you two share that in common.

                      “If not, whats the harm nobody is getting harmed at all.”:

                      The harm is the destruction of your individuality and critical thinking skills. The harm is you not thinking for yourself. You do not think for yourself. You were handed a set of answers from your parents (which are incorrect) and now you live this live based on these answers. Ideas, such as execution and killing non-hurtful people, make you into a worse person. You would learn to be more compassionate to people if you did not have this religious poison eating you away.

                      If you want to know what I mean, please watch this video. Please. It is not long, but it is excellent. It is YouTube video with code (I cannot post links here): ” watch?v=703ZJSzyyOA ” (no quotations). That videos makes me really sad. And that is what is poisonous about your mentality.

                      “I dont think so, god says so. (about me being killed for blashphemy)”:

                      But you agree. Right? You agree with God?

                    • John October 29, 2010, 7:03 AM

                      It doesnt matter if i agree with god, i dont always understand God.
                      Skeptic you are more confused than you were before. You may have missed this response I wrote a few comments ago, so I’ll repost it. It addresses most of your “questions”
                      “furthermore skeptic you are very confused, let me try to walk you through this. Your 4th question was: “If God told you to kill your children, and it absolutely nothing to do with whether they are evil or not, but just to give you a command, would you kill your children?” This question and response seemed to bother you the most. Allow me to walk you through it and point out how foolish you are.
                      When you ask “If God told you…” What do you mean by God? you don’t believe in god, so you are asking me, who DOES believe in god, if THAT GOD that i believe in told me… would I listen. Right? so far so good. (If you are referring to any other form of god (ie fake forms) then the answer is obviously no, i would not listen)
                      Now let us move on. That god that i believe in (which again is what your question is referring to.) is righteous, and defines good and evil. If he commands us not to kill, then killing is evil. If he commands us to execute murderers (in the proper context) then executing murderers is good. If he commands us not to eat pork, then eating pork is evil. If he commands us to give lashes to to Jews who eat pork (again, in the proper context) then giving them lashes is good etc you get the picture (I hope). This is the God I refer to, and you do, if your question has any meaning. Again to your question, if this All- righteous God, who defines what is good told me… would i listen. In which case if god told me to kill an Amalekite or my children, as hard as it may be to understand or to do, it is good. Again this is the premise of your question. If you hold any other premise then the question doesnt begin and nor does it make sense. So your question is would I do this Good act though it may be extremely difficult? To which i replied “Id like to think so but I doubt it unfortunately. You shouldve gone to shul yesterday we read the story of avraham and the akaida. He was able to withstand that tremendous nisayon, I doubt i could. ”
                      your response ” ..because you are better..” indicates that you are missing a premise (that God = pure goodness) of your own question. Which again without that premise your question doesn’t begin. you cant have it both ways. In a world where god exists and is pure good then i would follow which is the good thing to do. In your world where you dont believe in god or believe in a God who is commands evil, then again your question doesn’t begin and that isn’t the question I answered.
                      hope this clears up some of your confusion.
                      (i realize that the comment is quite repetitive, but history as shown that even with me spelling out in detail you still have trouble understanding)”

                    • SkepticButJewish October 30, 2010, 1:20 PM

                      I am not confused. I know all of this. I heard of all this non-sense back in Yeshiva.

                      You just confirmed to me that anything is possible in the name of God. You can do anything you want in the name of God. If God says, “kill the homo” you would do it. If God says, “kill Amalek” you would do it. If God says, “kill you kids” you would do it. Any action, no matter how despicable, you would do, if God told you to do it. Therefore, any action, if done in the name of God, is considered good. Which means in the name of God anything can be done.

                      Which is why I am morally superior to you. Because there are things I would not do. I have limitations. You do not.

                      Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.

                    • John October 30, 2010, 7:43 PM

                      No you are very confused. But dont feel bad it is a common mistake made by silly mistakes such as yourself, dawkins and that mistake is the premise of Bill Maher;s religulous.
                      DAwkins in that video says how obviously the story of Joshua blowing on shofos didnt casue the walls to fall. He then criticises the genocide that seems to be condoned in the bible.
                      what you guys dont get is that if the wall didnt fall by a miracle or if their is no God or if god isnt just then we agree!!! the bible is completly immoral. There is no argument there. All these “arguments” you make like “you beleiv in a talking snake?” or “youd kill amelekites” are absurd if you thought for more than a second. If there is no Go, or if the miracles are made up then of course snakes cant talk! Of course the bible is terrible! You cant pick and choose beleifs ignore the theist’s premise and then “question” the rest of the belief system. It boils down to one argument namely is there a God who is omnipotent, and all-righeotus. that is our only argument. all the rest is nonsense designed to confuse silly people, who cant think things through

                    • SkepticButJewish November 2, 2010, 1:28 AM

                      “If there is no God, or if the miracles are made up then of course snakes cant talk! Of course the bible is terrible! You cant pick and choose beleifs ignore the theist’s premise and then “question” the rest of the belief system. It boils down to one argument namely is there a God who is omnipotent, and all-righeotus. that is our only argument. all the rest is nonsense designed to confuse silly people, who cant think things through.”:

                      I am trying to demonstrate to you that the facist and tyrant that you bow before three times a day is a racist, homophobic, murderous dicatotor. Someone who wants you to give up your own intellectual thoughts before him. Someone who wants you to give up your individuality for him and do his command first and foremost.

                      If there is no God (more specifically YahWeh) then there is nothing to worry about except from crazy religious people who still believe in God.

                      If there is a God then everyone should be worried, because YahWeh is a terrible pathetic being. Luckily all evidence that there is points to there being no YahWeh.

                    • John November 2, 2010, 7:07 AM

                      You dont make any sense, you are ignoring my premise, and challenging my conclusion without taking the premise into account.
                      You say “I am trying to demonstrate to you that the facist and tyrant that you bow before three times a day is a racist, homophobic, murderous dicatotor.” As ive told you I do not believe in that god, and i would not kill anyone based on his command, so you arent arguing any point, in fact we agree completly in that regard.
                      Dont be as silly as your athist friends try to think things through wothout ignoring premises and repeating the same old cliches

                    • SkepticButJewish November 4, 2010, 1:41 AM

                      “As ive told you I do not believe in that god, and i would not kill anyone based on his command, so you arent arguing any point, in fact we agree completly in that regard.”:

                      Do not lie. I asked you if you would kill a baby Amalekite? You said “yes”. I asked you if you would kill your own kids if God told you to kill them. You said “yes”. I asked you if you think homos need to be executed if a Sanhedrin was in place. You said “yes”. I asked you if you think I should be executed for being a blashphemer. You said “yes”.

                      You lie when you say “I would not kill anyone at his command”. Yes you would. You just agreed to everything I asked you above.

                      You said “I do not believe in that kind of a God”. Have you been reading the Torah? The God you believe in, and bow before everyday, YaHWeh is described exactly in how I described him. He commands sacrifice. He commands capital punishment of heretics and homos. He commands genocide of the Amalekites. You do believe in that God.

                      And God is a fascist, he is a homophobe, he is a sexist. The God you believe in satisfies all of these properties. 1) God is a fascist because he demands your obedience to him, if you do not give your obedience, he will send you to Hell and punish you. 2) God is a homophobe because he says homos must be killed if they express love to one another. 3) God is a sexist because the status of women in the Torah is lower than that of men. In fact, a lot of Orthodox Jewish laws today are still sexist (women cannot be Rabbis, and so forth … ).

                      “Dont be as silly as your athist friends try to think things through wothout ignoring premises and repeating the same old cliches.”:

                      The guy who confessed to killing his own children is an imaginary voice told him in his head is saying I am “silly”.

                      Why should I accept your premises. You have no justified them. And even if I do accept your premises, like I just have above, I arrive at the conclusion that the God you bow and tremble before every day is a fascist.

                    • John November 4, 2010, 9:00 AM

                      Me lie? never. You are confusing us.
                      You asked if I would kill an amelikite, etc…
                      I replied (direct quote) “When you ask “If God told you…” What do you mean by God? you don’t believe in god, so you are asking me, who DOES believe in god, if THAT GOD that i believe in told me… would I listen. Right? so far so good. (If you are referring to any other form of god (ie fake forms) then the answer is obviously no, i would not listen)”
                      you then go on to say:
                      “And God is a fascist, he is a homophobe, he is a sexist. The God you believe in satisfies all of these properties…”
                      I told you i do not believe in that god, I’m not sure who you are talking about

                      “The guy who confessed to killing his own children is an imaginary voice told him in his head is saying I am “silly”.”

                      Um confessed to killing my own children? what on gods green earth are you talking about? Yes you are very very silly, but dont feel bad it is a common atheist mistake,. Well you should feel a little bad, because you should thin things through on your own especially when you have me to help you, and not just parrot what dawkins tells you to think. Its not like hes god.

                      “Why should I accept your premises. You have no justified them. And even if I do accept your premises, like I just have above, I arrive at the conclusion that the God you bow and tremble before every day is a fascist.”
                      You dont have to accept my premise, but your conclusion is absurd because it ignores the premise. youre conclusion exists in another reality than the beginning of the discussion ,which is absurd.

                    • John November 4, 2010, 3:04 PM

                      (i replied already not sure if it is in moderation, or if it dissapeared, at any rate i’ll reply again below in a new thread to make it easier, sorry if it pops up again.)

                    • SkepticButJewish November 7, 2010, 1:47 AM

                      You know exactly what I mean by God. Stop using that excuse to avoid answering my questions that you find difficult.

                      Whatever God is to you. Whatever that means to you. If God tells “I command you to kill your children”. Would you do it? You answered yes above.

                      Then you tell me “I told you i do not believe in that god, I’m not sure who you are talking about”.

                      I told you, YahWeh. I gave you a list of reasons why YahWeh is “God is a fascist, he is a homophobe, he is a sexist.” You did not refute them. You just said “that is not the God I believe in”. Well that means you do not believe in YahWeh.

                      Let me ask question again. This is very clear. Stop looking for an excuse to not answer it. YahWeh commands in the Tanach to kill Amalek. One of the mitzvos is to remember what Amalek did to you, and later, when Meschiach comes, the Jews will commit genocide against Amalek. Do you believe in that? Do you also believe that it is right to kill Amalekite children?

                      If you believe it is okay to kill Amalekite children then you agree with YahWeh, whom you believe gave this commandment.

                      Again my question is very clear. The fact that you dance around this question without saying “no”, like any rational thinking person would say, shows why I am a more moral person than you are. Because I am capable of thinking for myself.

                    • John November 7, 2010, 2:50 PM

                      um we already established that you are extremly immoral (scroll up a few comments, it occurs when you say youd let hitler go on to kill millions, and when you say that even if god was all-righetous you still wouldnt obey, that makes you immoral) so let us move on.
                      you are very foolish, but i am very patient so i’ll try to explain this to you taking a new approach.
                      Suppose I ask you a riddle: A barber in town shaves all those and only those who dont shave themselves, who shaves the barber? (im sure you are fammiliar with the riddle) What you are answering is the barber shaves himself he is an exception. Is this an acceptable answer? Obviously not, as it violates the premise, you can yelp and whine that it is the only conclusion youve arrived at, yet it is unacceptable, as it violates the premise.
                      So back to our case, my god is all-righteous, so yes i would (try) to listen even if it didnt make sense to me. You are asking about some other god one that is “a fascist, he is a homophobe, he is a sexist” that God sounds terrible, and no I would not listen, in fact i dont even believe it exists. You are not capable of thinking you have an absurd opinion and refuse to budge no matter how carefully i explain to you why you are dead wrong. (This is the 4th time by the way).
                      Hope this new approach helps somehwhat somehow i doubt it.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 11, 2010, 1:54 AM

                      “um we already established that you are extremly immoral (scroll up a few comments, it occurs when you say youd let hitler go on to kill millions, and when you say that even if god was all-righetous you still wouldnt obey, that makes you immoral) so let us move on.”:

                      Do not lie. You did not ask me if I would kill Hitler. Do not lie. You ask me if I would kill baby Hitler. I said instead of killing baby Hitler, I would rather give him over into better hands so that no one has to die and the Holocaust does not need to happen. If you asked me if I could kill Hitler to say people, then sure. But you did not ask me that question. Stop being decietful.

                      Second of all. Killing Amalek is not comparable to killing Hitler. Because you need to kill Amalek regardless whether or not they did anything bad or not. Even if an Amalekite never did anything wrong, the commandment is to kill the Amalekite. You kill Amalek not because of what they may do, but because God says so.

                      “Suppose I ask you a riddle:”

                      What does that have anything to do with what I said? You know exactly what I asked you. Stop avoiding it. Is it really so hard to say, “I will kill Amalek”?

                      1) A facist is a powerful dicator who demands obedience from the people. A facist will punish those who do not accept his rule. God demands obedience from all the people. God will punish those who do not accept his rule. Therefore, God is a facist.

                      2) If one says to kill homosexuals who love each other, then it is reasonable to conclude that he is homophobic. God says to kill homosexuals who love one another. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that God is homophobic.

                      3) If one says that women do not have the same status as men. They cannot be priests. They cannot be a witness in court. They cannot divorce their husband without premission of the husband. And so forth. Then this person is a sexist. God commands all of this in the Torah and in the Gemara. Therefore, God is a sexist.

                      4) Genocide is killing out whole nations/groups of people. God commands to kill out the nation of Amalek. Therefore, God is genocidal.

                      Look at how simple the arguments are. You have done absolutely nothing to refute them. I am still waiting.

                      “So back to our case, my god is all-righteous:”

                      Prove this to me. So far I have given you 4 reasons above why there is nothing righteous about God. He is a facist, he is homophobic, he is sexist, and he is genocidal.

                      “You are not capable of thinking you have an absurd opinion and refuse to budge no matter how carefully i explain to you why you are dead wrong.”:

                      You are not explaining anything. I give you reasons why God, or the Tanach, YahWeh, is evil. And all you say how not applicable that is. That is not a reasonable. That is a way to dodge my question.

                      I am dead wrong? Why? Because you think I should be killed for what I think?

                    • John November 11, 2010, 7:11 AM

                      youre last comment was so full of stupidity that i will only highlight the dumbest points among them.
                      Regarding killing baby hitler, the question ivloves killing or letting live, not making up your own third choice,( everybody hates that guy) you are welcome to change your mind if youve realized the foolishness of your ways, that is a strength not a weakness.
                      Killing amalek is more noble than killing hitler, becasue it is a direct command from god.
                      I said “I will kill amalek” but then it turned out you were asking if i would kill amalke on Zeus’s command or something. based on whose god are you asking? an all-righetous god? or some other (false) deity?
                      The rest we have covered already, you are starting to sound real stupid.
                      God isnt a “person” God defines morality. There is no morallity independent of god.
                      Thus killing amalke is moral

                    • SkepticButJewish November 14, 2010, 1:33 AM

                      What is the problem with creating a third option? I do not understand. You gave me two choices, I told you which other one I find to be the best on.

                      When I ask you if you would kill a baby Amalekite baby if God you to do so, you could have also changed the question around a bit. If you really wanted to. I would have no complained. But you did not change the question. Because you are unable to break free from this dichotomy.

                      You did not address any of my fourth points I brought up. I explained why God is a fascist. I explained why God is homophobic. I explained why God is sexist. And I explained why God is a genocidal.

                      Did you refute anything what I said? No, not at all.

                      You just repeat the same montra “God is moral, God is moral, God is moral”. Who says? How do you know?

                      I asked you to refure the points I brought up. So refute them in an intellectual manner. Do not ignore them. You have been ignored them for a while. To make it easier for you. Explain to me why God is not genocidal.

                    • John November 14, 2010, 1:30 PM

                      You can create any option you want, but you cant pull my premise out and challenge my conclusion based on your new premise. (refer back to the barber paradox, if you need help with that) I worship a moral god, you ask me to explain why some of his commands sem to be genocidal, I cannot. They trouble me too, much as abraham must’ve had an extrmely hard time in preparing his son to be slaughtered. God by definition cant be understood by mere mortals. I have a question for you, which may help (it helps me a little) Is nature/evolution/flying spagheti monster/ whatever you believe in ageist? It seems that an awful lot of old people lose control of their bowels, memory, or even life among many other things. Does this make nature ageist? it discriminates against old people? I’d say no that is just the way it is. Their is no discrimination involved per se.
                      I realize this is very unclear though i hope it helps, I dont claim nor have i ever claimed to have a better answer.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 17, 2010, 2:08 AM

                      So we have established that you have no answers at all. I asked you these questions and you cannot answer them. You just say “I am a mere mortal, I have no idea, God is moral, God is moral, God is moral”. But when I ask you questions and how you resolve them, you just tell me that it unknowable. Yet you call me foolish for being an atheist. You cannot answer simple questions but I am foolish – somehow.

                      You ask me “Is nature/evolution/flying spagheti monster/ whatever you believe in ageist?”:

                      Nature is ageist, it is racist, it is sexist, it is cruel, it is beauty, it is ugly, it is good, it is evil. There are children in Africa dying from starvation from now. Yes, Nature is evil, in that instance. There are doctors who cure people, Nature is good in that instance.

                      Was that so hard to answer? No, not at all. You asked me and I answere you very easily. Nature can be extremely cruel. It can be extremely nice. But it does not care one way or another. I just wish you were as consistent like I was and finally admitted that God is cruel.

                • Yankel October 22, 2010, 2:38 AM

                  Yes.
                  It would not be a comfortable experience, and it might be traumatic enough to permanently change my character from then on.

                  But if G-d tells me something – that defines good, proper, righteous, beneficial, and correct.
                  So I would do it.

                  • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 7:00 PM

                    Yankel, do you think that adulterers should be stoned to death (or whatever other capital punishment the Torah says)?

                    • Yankel October 24, 2010, 2:04 AM

                      If they commit the adultery in public, after being warned in public that it is forbidden and would warrant their deaths, then yes.

                      Not for the adultery as much as for the brazen flaunting of the justice system.

                      If it’s simply admitted to, or not done in public – then no. Each person can do their repenting on his or her own.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:32 PM

                      Yankel, would you kill your children if God tells you to do so?

                    • Yankel October 25, 2010, 7:56 AM

                      I would like to think so.
                      I mean if it would really happen I don’t know how I’d react, but I definitely should.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 12:57 AM

                      You are crazy. And a dangerous man.

                    • Yankel October 26, 2010, 2:09 AM

                      If by “crazy and dangerous” you mean that I emulate greats like the patriarchs, King David, and King Shaul, I’ll be happy to be “crazy and dangerous” anyday.

                      Keep in mind, one who thinks the ship doesn’t have a captain is far more likely to cause damage than one who obeys the captain’s commands.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 11:26 PM

                      “King David and King Shaul”:

                      People who slaughetered a lot of innocent people. Yes, that is someone to be really proud of. By the way, these people are make believe.

                      “Keep in mind, one who thinks the ship doesn’t have a captain is far more likely to cause damage than one who obeys the captain’s commands.”:

                      What ship? Stop looking for excuses, you just admitted you would kill your own kids. You are a crazy and mentally damaged person.

  • Phil October 18, 2010, 5:02 PM

    Skeptic,

    Why/how do you define yourself as “Jewish”? After all, if God doesn’t exist, nor do Jews. Following your reasoning, shouldn’t you just be “human”?

    • G*3 October 18, 2010, 5:37 PM

      On can be Jewish in the same sense that one is an American – a national/cultural identity.

    • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 6:26 PM

      Phil, do I really have to answer a question like that? You can figure out the answer yourself if you just think a litt.e

      • Phil October 18, 2010, 7:22 PM

        Skeptic,

        Nice try.

        • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 9:18 PM

          Nice try what? I do not understand.

          Are you trying to refer to that what I said was a way to dodge a question I was unable to answer? Do you really think that upon reading your question I was so distressted that I ran into my room and starting crying and recanting everything I ever did? Your question was dumb. You could have answered it yourself. Being Jewish is not always a religious thing. One can be Jewish by identity. Did you really not know that? Were you really unable to answer your own question?

          • Yankel October 19, 2010, 12:57 AM

            “Skeptic” implies an intellectual stance, not an identity. So when you say Skeptic “but” Jewish, you’re implying a slight negation to your skepicism due to your Jewishness.

            If you in fact do not believe there is G-d (as you claim), your “Jewishness” should not in any way run contradictory to your skepticism, since according to you it carries no more weight than saying “I go to Bally’s”.

            Did you really mean “Jewish-skeptic”?
            Perhaps.
            But IMO, it was far more likely a freudian slip.

            • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:44 AM

              Skeptic is not an intellectual stance. Jewish means I am ethnically Jewish. I may be ethnically Jewish but I reject the religion because it is false from all the infromation I have seen. Seriously, why is this so hard to understand?

              • Phil October 19, 2010, 11:10 AM

                Skeptic,

                What defines Jews as an ethnic group / how do you define a Jew?

                We define ourselves based on the mother’s religion. That’s how it’s been done for 3000 years. That’s how we lasted as a people after being exiled from our land 2000 years ago.

                What’s the atheist definition of a Jew or a person of Jewish ethnicity? One who has 1 Jewish parent? Or Grandparent? Or perhaps 1 drop of “Jewish blood”?
                What rule are those definitions based on? Torah law?

                • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 11:34 AM

                  “What defines Jews as an ethnic group / how do you define a Jew?”:

                  I come from Jewish parents, not religious. I went to a religious Orthodox school till grade 12. But then I gave it up because it is non-sense.

                  “What’s the atheist definition of a Jew or a person of Jewish ethnicity? One who has 1 Jewish parent?”:

                  You Orthodox Jews are a bunch of hypocrites. When it comes to claiming that 1/5 of all Nobel Prize winners are “Jewish” you have no problem with accepting those people as “Jewish but not religious”. Almost every Jewish Nobel prize winner was an atheist or non-religious. But you have no problem calling them “Jewish”. However, the moment a non-religious Jew calls themselves “Jewish” then, “oh my science, how dare he call himself Jewish, he is not religious”. How about you stick to one position? Stop picking the side that you are convenient about.

                  • Guest October 19, 2010, 11:47 AM

                    “I come from Jewish parents, not religious. I went to a religious Orthodox school till grade 12. But then I gave it up because it is non-sense.”

                    You’re also emotionally immature, if not downright disturbed. That’s the real interesting story, which you’ll never tell. Keep hiding behind a cloak of rationalism, but it’s BS to those that know better. There are plenty of believers out there smarter than you.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 19, 2010, 10:26 PM

                      I am emotionally immature. And I am mentally disturbed. I am insane. And I am crazy. I masturbate to gay porn and sometimes to hentai. I am a very messed up person.

                      But do you know what is nice about philosophy? Philosophy is not a popularity contest. I can be a psychotic person but still be correct. Because the truth does not care what kind of person you are. Truth is independent of he who speaks it, be he virtuous or vile. The only thing that matters are my arguments, not my charachter.

                    • Anonymous October 20, 2010, 6:59 AM

                      Based on your arguments, it is fair to dismiss you as merely a mentally disturbed, insane person. that is why nobody on this blog takes you seriously

                    • SkepticButJewish October 21, 2010, 12:10 PM

                      “Based on your arguments, it is fair to dismiss you as merely a mentally disturbed, insane person. that is why nobody on this blog takes you seriously.”:

                      There were a lot of mentally disturbed people who were correct and were smart. Whether I am mentally disturbed is irrelevant to whether or not I speak the truth. If you do not like what I say then dismiss my arguments, not my personality.

                    • Elad October 26, 2010, 1:39 AM

                      The beauty of Judaism is that your character DOES matter. Thank G-d.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 11:28 PM

                      Explain to me why charachter matters in cases of truth?

                    • Dovybear October 27, 2010, 4:36 PM

                      Because it helps you spell correctly.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 30, 2010, 1:24 PM

                      “Because it helps you spell correctly.”:

                      Spelling determines truth?

                      Let me ask you this question. If your favorite Rabbi, say Rabbi Feinstein had bad spelling would you still listen to him and read him?

                      Of course you would.

                      So stop being concerned with spelling. I may have bad spelling but I got points. If you focus on my spelling then you are dodging my arguments. And just looking for any excuse that you can think of to ignore what I said.

                  • Phil October 19, 2010, 12:12 PM

                    Skeptic,

                    You didn’t answer my questions, you simply went of on some completely irrelevant topic.

                    I never said atheists or secular Jews aren’t Jewish. I asked YOU (as a self proclaimed atheist), how do YOU define yourself or anyone else as being a Jew?

                    If you marry a non Jewish woman, will you consider your kids Jews? If they also marry non Jews, will you consider your grandkids as Jews? What about great grandchildren?

                  • John October 19, 2010, 12:18 PM

                    Slow down there partner, we never ahve a problem with accepting people as Jewsih but not religous. Im not sure if you know this but as far as Judaism is concerned “once a Jew always a Jew” thus assuming the 1/5 of noble Prize winners are Jewish are actually Jewsih ie had Jewsih mothers, you are full of it. As far as those who dont have Jewish mothers, they shouldnt be included.
                    What Phil was saying is what makes you Jewsih in your view, in our view and in halacha’s view you (and the noble prize winners) are Jewish if you have a Jewish mother, which is the definition of a Jew according to the torah. But what makes you Jewsih in YOUR view, ie where there is no torah, claiming your Jewish? 1 grandparent? eating lox? what?

                    • Esther October 19, 2010, 4:01 PM

                      ROFL…of course, lox 😉 Not to dismiss the rest of your very well put together comment, but that part just had to be emphasized.

                  • Yankel October 20, 2010, 7:34 AM

                    “However, the moment a non-religious Jew calls themselves “Jewish” then, “oh my science, how dare he call himself Jewish, he is not religious”. How about you stick to one position? Stop picking the side that you are convenient about.”

                    Like many things you say, this definitely has some truth to it.
                    It also bothers me when Jews are proud that Einstien was Jewish and talk about it regardless of the fact that he was not religious, but are ashamed of people like Madoff and dismiss it with “Well what do you expect, he wasn’t religious. Sorry he wasn’t one of us.”

                    (To me, a Jew is a Jew. Nothing can ever change that. Likewise, there is shame to be had when ANY Jew does something wrong – religious or not.
                    There is however a big difference between the responsibility I feel when a religious Jew does something wrong and when a non-religious Jew does.
                    One is a relative, and one is my very esscence and everything I stand for.)

                    However, back to the subject at hand.
                    No-one here is calling you “not-jewish” G-d forbid. They’re just trying to get you to admit that you yourself believe there’s something different about being a Jew, based on your statement that you are a Jew.

                    • John October 20, 2010, 12:06 PM

                      Yankel dont let it bother you too much, it is noraml human nature. suppose einstein was your second cousin. You (or anyone) would undoubtedly go around telling everybody about your cousin Einstein. If however madoff was your second cousin, and Id ask you your cousins with Madoff, you would undoubtedly say “nah we are only second cousins, we arent clsoe yada yada” There is nothing wrong with either of those responses. They are both true and expected.

                  • Dovybear October 30, 2010, 4:04 PM

                    I’m not focussing on your spelling, I was just being facetious.

    • Schwartzie October 20, 2010, 3:21 PM

      I dunno. We come from the people who *believe* that God gave them the Torah. While I’m not sure whether to take the whole Avraham story seriously, I am pretty sure that we do come from common ancestors. I have Jewish genes and carry the same propensity for certain traits and am susceptible to certain diseases or disorders, heaven forfend, that are associated with Jewish people. Like my inability to play sports and good grades. I also took a lot of shit when I was a kid for being Jewish– a LOT–, so I get to be one forever no matter what I believe. Free pass.

      • Yankel October 20, 2010, 3:49 PM

        You’d get to be one even if your life was disneyland straight through. You don’t need a free pass.
        If your mother was Jewish that is.

        Now as far as living your life as a decendent of Avraham is called upon to, you either do or don’t.
        The most the abuse will get you will perhaps be some slack for the mess you make.

  • Mikel October 18, 2010, 5:11 PM

    WRT “any scientist who believes in God is intellectually irresponsible” – I have a doctorate in science/engineering and having studied matter down to its finest quantum levels only reaffirms my belief that there must be something out there that is far beyond our limited comprehension. Does that necessarily translate into being an observant Jew? Not for me. But it instills a sense of humility that there is much out there out of our control and cannot and will never grasp due to our finite nature. And it reminds me that man is not king of the universe. I suppose this feeling is “G-d” to me.

    • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 6:27 PM

      “I have a doctorate in science/engineering and having studied matter … ”

      This is all irrelevent. I have heard numerous people in my life talk about their qualifications. I do not care about your qualifications, I only care about your arguments. Qualifications do not convince me.

      • Mikel October 18, 2010, 9:08 PM

        I was merely trying to emphasize that I have a lot of training in science but still am not atheistic and that it in fact enhances my spirituality and awe of the universe.

        • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 9:19 PM

          “I was merely trying to emphasize that I have a lot of training in science but still am not atheistic and that it in fact enhances my spirituality and awe of the universe.”:

          Okay, sorry then.

          • Yankel October 19, 2010, 1:07 AM

            SkepticButJewish,
            You claim you only care about the validity of arguments.
            It follows that a statement like “I only deal with science. Go ask a philosopher” – won’t be coming from you.
            Can you then answer the big question (which all atheistic scientists scamper away from like scared little puppies):

            How did anything in existance ever begin to exist in the first place?

            • G*3 October 19, 2010, 2:14 AM

              > How did anything in existance ever begin to exist in the first place?

              I have no idea. How did God begin to exist in the first place?

              • Yankel October 19, 2010, 2:46 AM

                You don’t seem to get it.
                G-d is above all these physical rules and facts. He exists above time and place.

                The one and only answer to this question is G-d.
                That’s why the question is almost ritually avoided by scientists.

                You can call it what you want, but there must be a being which is above it all, and brought existance into being.

                Now you can theoretically argue that it was a “force” and not an intelligent being, but aside from it not making sense, the world cries of an intelligent designer.

                • G*3 October 19, 2010, 10:56 AM

                  > G-d is above all these physical rules and facts. He exists above time and place.

                  Isn’t that convenient.

                  You’re making a first cause argument, which is usually laid out like this:

                  1. Everything that begins to exist requires something to bring it into existence.
                  2. The universe began to exist.
                  3. Therefore, the universe needed something to bring it into existence.
                  C. That thing was God

                  There are many problems with this argument. Premise one may be false. Statistically, particles pop in and out of existence all the time. The universe may be cyclic, going through an endless series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches, and so may actually be eternal. (For that matter, time may be just a quirk of how the current universe happened to form.) And even if all the premises are true, the conclusion is a non-sequitur.

                  > Now you can theoretically argue that it was a “force” and not an intelligent being, but aside from it not making sense,

                  Why does that not make sense?

                  • Yankel October 19, 2010, 3:33 PM

                    I’m replying on bottom – more room.

              • Esther October 19, 2010, 4:04 PM

                G*3…how quintessentially Jewish of you to answer a question with a question

    • G*3 October 18, 2010, 6:40 PM

      > there must be something out there that is far beyond our limited comprehension.

      Sure, but it’s a long, long way from “humans are limited by our wetware and there are things we can’t understand” to “the things we can’t understand are explained by the existence of a metaphysical conscious Being” and an even longer way to what most people mean by “God.”

  • abandoning eden October 18, 2010, 5:16 PM

    Phil- personally I think of judaism as an ethnicity, we do have genetics in common and a shared cultural history, as well as a shared common culture (use of yiddish words- I had to basically teach my self to speak differently once i stopped hanging out with jews all the time, shared food, cultural values such as emphasis on higher education).

    Hesh- atheism is easy in terms of some stuff, like having your saturdays free, but it’s also much harder to make friends when you don’t have a built in religious community (which I am especially finding true in the super religious south), so it has its pluses and minuses.

    i would prolly characterize myself as a weak atheist…while I haven’t found any convincing evidence as of yet, I don’t think that necessarily precludes there being a god in some sense of the word, and I don’t think modern science cannot be reconciled with there being a god, although modern science does explain a whole bunch of things that people previously attributed to god. However I am definitely sure that 100% of religion is man-made. And not believing in the afterlife..well that has its pluses and minuses as well, it would sure be nice if we could go on living and being conscious after we die, maybe even meet up with old friends, I just don’t see any ‘proof’ of that beyond human speculation and wishing it was true. Like, when my grandfather recently died, my mom was telling me about how the morning he died he kept saying “Lola (my dead grandmother) is here”. To my mom that is very comforting, cause to her that is evidence that she will go on living and be able to meet up with dead spouses and such after death. To her it is proof of something. To me it is proof that my grandfather, who had alzheimers, was both senile and hopped up on a crazy amount of morphine the morning he died. But which of us is happier? Me who skeptically thinks that this life (which is not super awesome in general) is all we have, or her who thinks there is something better waiting for her after death?

  • EZ October 18, 2010, 5:17 PM

    Phil – because even if someone doesn’t believe in God, they can’t erase history (and not just history itself, but the shared values, culture, literature, etc. that is a product of it). So someone who is Jewish, even if they don’t believe in God, has their family and national/religious history.

    The religion itself comes into play because when we were a tribe trekking through the desert thousands of years ago, there was no better explanation for thunder and lightning, or drought, or wind, or whatever, that was better than because God wills it. And that doesn’t take into account the psychologically innate and comforting feeling that someone up there is watching over me.

    But nowadays we know better. Even if that doesn’t necessarily squeeze God out of the equation, it provides answers that can exist independently of him. Perhaps if Judaism was somehow being created today, with all the knowledge we have now that we did not have then, it would look much different. In fact, it certainly would.

    But for someone to be Jewish but atheist doesn’t negate the fact that he grew up in a social, cultural, intellectual, and moral milieu that was shaped by Jewish history’s thousands of years. Even if one believes that there were mistakes made (including the biggest mistake, which an atheist would say is the invention of/belief in God), the history still and culture still exist.

  • A. Nuran October 18, 2010, 5:19 PM

    On the upside atheism means fewer religious restrictions on what you can think and do.

    On the downside you get fewer holidays.

    • Heshy Fried October 18, 2010, 5:21 PM

      Does that mean Atheists are in better shape?

      • A. Nuran October 18, 2010, 6:12 PM

        Dunno. Does “round” count as a shape?

    • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 1:52 PM

      Let’s not forget how easy and comfortable it is to know exactly what is right and what is wrong, and to be able to look in a book for the answers. Atheists can’t do that.

      • Yankel October 21, 2010, 2:35 PM

        If your an athiest, there really is no right and wrong.
        So no problem there to begin with.

        • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 9:06 PM

          You remind me of the self-righteous types I got to know so well in yeshiva. Turns out it helps to know about topics before you speak about them; it’s much more helpful than repeating the nonsense your rebbe tells you. If you wish to argue that thousands of years of philosophical work on ethics have no value, I’d think you’d have some familiarity with them first. If you wish to make an argument that has been dealt with hundreds of times, it would be nice if you’d answer the replies on it.

          And, again, what is right and wrong for the religious? There is no action so horrific that you will not justify it if committed in God’s name.

          • Yankel October 22, 2010, 3:09 AM

            Oh sure people feel right and wrong, and they can relate to why one is good and the other evil. This is true regardless of what you believe. It is a human characteristic which people are pretty much born with. No arguments there.

            Athiests will attribute these ‘feelings’ to brain waves, or occaisionally to unconsequential and ultimately meaningless philosophical explanations. When I say “right” and “wrong”, I don’t speak of the same “right” and “wrong” as an athiest does.
            His usage of the term is no more than a cheap imitation, of a real and awesome concept which takes on infinite significance.

            He would deny it if he could. Many of the gutsier athiests do in fact. Problem is we can feel it very strongly, and it’s much harder to deny than say – the recognition that “right” and “wrong” simply cannot be the product of a big meaningless bang (which is surprising in a way).

            Noticed the word “really” in my sentence? It was place there on purpose.

            I agree that an athiest can certainly act or refrain based on the concept of “right and wrong”, but ultimately he’ll never be ‘up the creek’ if he’s in a specific situation and doesn’t know what the right thing to do is.
            What if he makes the wrong decision?
            No big deal, evil is just the experience of doing something I feel I shouldn’t. Once the experience is gone – so is the evil.
            Ok, I might have to deal with some unpleasant memories, but I’ll forget about it eventually.

            • SkepticButJewish October 23, 2010, 7:03 PM

              Yankel, just admitted above that he would kill little children, Amalekite children, if God told him so. Yankel lost all credibility to talk about what is “right” and “wrong”.

              • Yankel October 24, 2010, 2:25 AM

                “Yankel lost all credibility to talk about what is “right” and “wrong”.” – according to all beliefs of SkepticButJewishism.

                If G-d told me to do so, it would be not only justified, but the proper and necessary thing to do. I didn’t say I would enjoy it, in fact it would probably be quite traumatizing.

                I think you need to realize that this argument really has nothing to do with murder being right or wrong. This is 100% about G-d, and if he has the right to dictate that something which we percieve as wrong – is really right.

                Your starting point is your vision. Since your vision says one thing, G-d or any other views are irrelevant.

                The first commandment in SkepticButJewishism, is “I am SkepticButJewish. There can be nothing greater than the vision of SkepticButJewish. Anyone or anything which suggests that my vision or judgement is flawed, is irrational and brainwashed”.

                My starting point is, G-d created the very concepts of logic, and “right and wrong”. His will defines what “right” is, and his will defines what “wrong” is.

                Since they were created by him, they cannot be higher than him.

                It follows, that when G-d says to do something which we might perceive as wrong, it is a mere illusion, because “wrong” is defined by that which is not his will. Since itis his will – it cannot be wrong, as bad as it appears.

                The Kotzker said “I would not wish to serve a G-d who I could understand”

                • SkepticButJewish October 24, 2010, 1:34 PM

                  Yankel, would you kill your children if God told you to kill them?

                  • Yankel October 26, 2010, 2:12 AM

                    I believe I answered you above.
                    Yes, I believe so.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 26, 2010, 11:29 PM

                      Well, you confirmed it, you are a crazy man.

                    • Dovybear October 27, 2010, 8:03 AM

                      Love the logic, Skeptic…
                      1. I believe your beliefs are crazy.
                      2. You admit to holding your beliefs.
                      3. You admit to being crazy.
                      I can see how you got to be such a profound philosopher with a mind like that.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 29, 2010, 1:18 AM

                      “Love the logic, Skeptic…
                      1. I believe your beliefs are crazy.
                      2. You admit to holding your beliefs.
                      3. You admit to being crazy.
                      I can see how you got to be such a profound philosopher with a mind like that.”:

                      Not quite. Here is my logic:
                      1) People who kill their own children are crazy.
                      2) You admit you would kill your own children.
                      3) Therefore, you are crazy.

                      No that does not make me a profound philosopher. I have much deeper and more interesting arguments. Too sad you will never be able to understand them. Because you cannot get past simple reasoning like this.

                    • Dovybear October 29, 2010, 7:18 AM

                      No, your logic says:
                      1. I believe that there is no God THEREFORE people who listen to God (even if it involves some form of sacrifice [I use the term in its secular sense]) are crazy.
                      2. You admit to listening to God.
                      3. You admit to being crazy.
                      Your example has nothing to do with your thought process – you simply pick an emotive idea and ram it down people’s throats. Let me give you an example. Let us assume that you live in a state where the death penalty applies, and work at the prison, specifically as an executioner. Your son, a paedophile and mass-murderer is now up for execution, and it is your job to kill him. Would you? You see, I can create my own scenarios to threaten your views with and end up calling you crazy. The logic is still the same. Now perhaps you can go back and do that philosophy degree you’ve always dreamed of.

                    • SkepticButJewish October 30, 2010, 1:29 PM

                      “Let us assume that you live in a state where the death penalty applies, and work at the prison, specifically as an executioner. “:

                      I do not believe in the death penalty therefore I would not woth at a prision as an executioner.

                      ” Your son, a paedophile and mass-murderer is now up for execution, and it is your job to kill him. ”

                      (Haha, now you have a spelling mistake. But of course that does not matter because unlike you I do not care about that. Just pointing out that everyone makes spelling mistakes.)

                      What you say does not apply because I do not support the death sentence. Move on to something else.

                      Furthermore, you are being unfair here. In my case where God tells you to kill your children you kids did not do anything wrong. God just said to kill them. In your case the person at least did something wrong (being a murderer). So you cannot compare them.

                      “You see, I can create my own scenarios to threaten your views with and end up calling you crazy.”:

                      How did that thearten my views? I just dismissed everything you said.

                      See, unlike you, my mind is free. And I can dismiss these situations very easily. But you cannot. You will stick to killing your kids not matter what because God told you so.

                      Try again.

                    • Dovybear October 30, 2010, 4:02 PM

                      “I would not work as an executioner”
                      And God has never told me to kill my kids. You created a scenario, I created one. You want to force answers, so will I. If you were in such a situation, what would your free mind do? Don’t cop out by saying that you don’t believe in the death penalty. And just by the way, assuming God did tell someone to kill their kid, don’t you think He’d have a reason. I don’t believe God would tell me to kill my child, in the same way as you don’t believe in the death penalty, yet you seem to assume that I must answer your absurd proposition. Answer mine. Would you kill him? If yes, then you have shown that you would, on the orders of an authority that you believe to be higher than you, kill your own child, so what makes God different (don’t go on about having done wrong, like I said, wouldn’t God have reasons too?)?. If not, you show that you value the life of a mass-murderer above that of the little kids that he killed for no reason other than you happen to have given him some of your DNA, and isn’t that crazy?
                      Try again.
                      I have a piece of advice for you: before you reply, read a book by Julian Baggini called The Duck that Won the Lottery. You’ll find your logical shortcomings on almost every page.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 2, 2010, 1:33 AM

                      “You created a scenario, I created one. You want to force answers, so will I.”:

                      You created a scenario and I refused to participate in it. You asked me if I would kill. And I said NO. I will not do it. How hard was that?

                      Then I asked you what you would do if God asked you to. I asked you if you would kill. To be like me, to do what I did, all you had to do is say NO. But you did not say NO. You said YES.

                      Which is why, I, am morally superior to you.

                    • Dovybear November 6, 2010, 4:39 PM

                      No, you didn’t reply – you dodged the question by saying that you wouldn’t be in such a position in the first place, well nor would I be there, as I don’t believe that God would tell me to kill my kid. Now, if you were in the position and are still saying no, then, as above, you show that you value the life of a mass-murderer over that of his victims simply because you contributed to his genetic make-up. I would call that crazy. By the way, at no point in time did I answer yes, I dodged your question as you dodged mine – you simply assumed on my part. As for your assertion that you are morally superior to me we come back to your original crackpot logic. You say that your position is morally superior to mine and thus, by holding it, you are morally superior to me. To which I respond: rubbish.
                      Now, I want to ask a simple question on something you wrote: “You asked me if I would kill. I said NO. I will not do it.” Now, firstly, and I appreciate that subtlety isn’t your finest point, I didn’t ask you if you would kill, I asked you if, in the specific scenario I created you would kill. Your reply seems to indicate that you would never kill anyone, does this mean even in self-defense or to save someone else? If that is the case, you can keep your moral superiority, because I certainly don’t want whatever it is you call your moral superiority.

                    • SkepticButJewish November 7, 2010, 1:56 AM

                      You are stupid if you cannot understand the different between us.

                      Here is the difference explained very clearly. We begin with your scenario.

                      I have been elected (or whatever other means) to be an executioner of a person. I do not agree with capital punishment. Therefore, I say NO, I choose not to execute him.

                      See how simple that is?

                      Now we will look at your situation.

                      I ask you if God would ask you to kill your children. You say that I do not believe God would ask you to do something like that.

                      That is different. I did not dodge your scenario. I play along. I said I would not act given the situation. You did not play along. You dodged the scenario because it makes you uncomfortable. That is our difference.

                      And by the way, God could ask people to sacrifice their children. Remember the story of Abraham?

                      “Now, if you were in the position and are still saying no, then, as above, you show that you value the life of a mass-murderer over that of his victims”:

                      Explain how this follows? Just because I do not believe in capital punishment does not mean I think the murderer is innocent. It just means I do not believe in capital punishment. You are making a non-sequiter.

                      “does this mean even in self-defense or to save someone else?”:

                      Self-defense, yes. I defend my property with lethal force by using my guns.

                      “you can keep your moral superiority”:

                      I am morally superior to you. Because you would kill your kids if God told you so.

            • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:51 PM

              The derivation of ethics from feelings is yours, not mine, so I don’t know what you’re agreeing with. You are setting up a false dichotomy – ethics is nothing more than glorified emotions or the commands of an all-powerful sky god. Yet the philosophical tradition includes plenty of other derivations, none of which depend on feelings. Natural rights (Aquinas himself believed that ethics was unchanged by a lack of belief) have nothing to do with emotions, nor do systems of hierarchial goods like that of Butchverov.

              Now, on the issue of making the wrong decision – I think you’ve got this exactly backwards. Religions offer absolution rituals; the secular ethicist has none. When a secular person believes he has done evil, he can certainly do what he can to make it right, but ultimately, it never goes away. On the other hand, the baal teshuva turns his sins into mitzvot.

  • G*3 October 18, 2010, 6:11 PM

    > struggling with the entire concept of “what is the meaning of life?”

    One would think that theists have an easier time with existential questions. The religious answer to the meaning of life is, as Koheles says (or as was added to Koheles ) “to serve God.”

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a valid question. It’s like asking, “What is the meaning of trees?” Life can be given meaning, and one can ask, “What is the best meaning to give my life?” but the assumption that there is some transcendental purpose to being alive is unfounded.

    > I don’t see how God cannot be worked into any scenario – I just don’t understand Atheism.

    Of course you can work God into any scenario. After all, “God works in mysterious ways.” Atheists tend to be skeptics – it’s not that God is absolutely ruled out, it’s that there’s no good reason to invoke God in the first place. I’m sure if you tried you could work Jesus into any scenario, too, but you have no reason to bother coming up with clever ways to shoehorn him into the world.

    > I wouldn’t have to worry about the afterlife

    If it’s any comfort, the afterlife is never mentioned in the Chumash and its existence is one of the things the Tzedukim and Perushim disagreed on. Had the Tzedukim won that political struggle, it would be the Perushim who are vilified in the Gemera and Judaism today may not have a belief in the afterlife.

    > maybe they will have the beis din stonings on pay per view

    That’s actually likely. Executions used to be public spectacles (and in some places still are). The rationale was that seeing the consequences of a crime firsthand would act as a deterrent.

    > I am vehemently against TV and Movies, more from a philosophical than hashkafic bent. I think it’s all a waste of time

    Of course it’s a waste of time. That’s the point of entertainment. Blogging is also a waste of time. So what?

    > To not believe in God takes everything out of the picture, what pains do you have?

    What does that mean? Not believing in God doesn’t make stubbing your toe less painful.

    > But then again, when you do have pain, to whom do you daven? Baal?

    Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity. Any deity. Including Baal, Thor, and other storm gods, not just the one who went on to become the Biblical God.

    > I guess Atheists have to pay for a psychologist.

    At least no one has to worry that their crazy because they audibly hear their psychologist talking to them.

    > You don’t need God to be moral and it seems like the opposite actually. It seems like the evil things done in the name of God far outweigh the things done in the name of Atheism.

    Whether or not a belief in God makes one more moral or less moral has nothing to do with whether there is a God. It’s at best a pragmatic argument for (or against) religion.

  • Esther October 18, 2010, 6:25 PM

    …where science ends, faith begins…or something along those lines. That is what comes to mind when reading this post and its something I struggle with constantly. On the one hand, watching Bill Maher’s “Religulous” and hearing him say that what he finds is that otherwise intelligent people throw logic and reasoning out the window when it comes to the subject of G-d, well, yeah, he shows that…and in that moment it makes complete and total sense to me. But then again, as Mikel so aptly put it, there is so much more than us humans out there in the universe that its impossible NOT to believe that there is something greater and more poweful than us…to some that means G-d …I am still trying to figure out what that means to me personally. I do know that going to shul and being in a room full of people who are davening, who clearly believe and don’t require proof, empirical or otherwise…that’s infectious and no logic and no science can give the same feeling of being safe and a part of something, part of a community.

    And in regard to who’s got it easier and who is happier? I doubt there is an answer to that on a group level… “seem” is the key word there.

    • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 6:36 PM

      Esther, you know, you can believe in God but reject religion? Religion, I think you would agree, is rather silly and man made. God is a different concept. I know that Bill Maher himself is (or at least used to) be a deist i.e. he believed in God just not in religion. So if it makes more sense to you to believe in God, then do it, just stop attributing God to religion.

      • Esther October 19, 2010, 8:55 AM

        I don’t know that I DO attribute G-d to religion…and I most certainly believe. What I’m saying is that this belief doesn’t come easy and I question it all the time…its an ongoing internal debate.

  • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 6:33 PM

    “What is the meaning of life?”:

    I do not understand why this is such a complicated question. This is a very trivial question. There is no meaning to life. This is not a statement of arrogance but of ultimate humility.

    The logical conclusion from atheism is (moral) nihilism. I consider atheists who are not nihilists as being inconsistent with their acceptance of a materialistic and deterministic world. Some atheists have the weakness of still holding on to the silly idea of an objective purporse. But really, accepting nihilism, as a lot of people do, is not a depressing life at all. It does not bother me in the slightest.

  • Phil October 18, 2010, 7:27 PM

    Eden & EZ,

    So your both saying that even though 1 family may have lived in North Africa for centuries and the other may have lived in Poland for the same amount of time, the North African is still Jewish instead of arab, and the Polish Jew is still Jewish as opposed to being a Pole.

    You both descend from Jews, which you don’t actually belive exist, as if God and his Torah are bogus, then Jews are bogus, and it’s all in our heads. So how do you define yourselves as anything other than humanoid creatures?

    • Anonymous October 18, 2010, 7:44 PM

      That betrays the truth that in both of these places Jews were legally separated from the dominant ethnicity.

    • Vox Populi October 18, 2010, 8:00 PM

      >So your both saying that even though 1 family may have lived in North Africa for centuries and the other may have lived in Poland for the same amount of time, the North African is still Jewish instead of arab, and the Polish Jew is still Jewish as opposed to being a Pole.

      So your both saying that even though 1 family may have lived in North Africa for centuries and the other may have lived in Iraq for the same amount of time, the North African is still Arab instead of North African, and the Iraqi Arab is still Arab as opposed to being an Iraqi.

    • G*3 October 18, 2010, 9:50 PM

      > You both descend from Jews, which you don’t actually belive exist, as if God and his Torah are bogus, then Jews are bogus, and it’s all in our heads.

      Come on. Obviously Jews exist. So does Judaism. So does the Torah. Whether or not God exists has nothing to do with the existence of any of those things, only with their divinity. If God exists and gave the Torah on Har Sinia, then the Torah is Dinine writ and the Jews are the Chosen Nation. If God doesn’t exist, then the Torah is interesting and influential ancient mythology and Jews are a national/cultural group no better (or worse) than any other.

    • Mahla October 19, 2010, 9:24 AM

      But I thought Jews were a race, too. If you took DNA from the Jews and the non-Jews, wouldn’t you be able to predict with reasonable accuracy which was which? I thought you could even tell who was a kohen from their DNA, a lot of the time.

      Hey, that makes me think of a question. If your parents and ancestors were Jews, both racially and in religious practice, but then you became a professing atheist — would they still let you into Israel?

      • Phil October 19, 2010, 9:32 AM

        Mahla,

        Jews are a race because our religion dictates that we stick to our own. Except for a minority of converts, most of us can trace our DNA back a few thousand years. The Kohanim are subject to stricter marital laws, so by default, they are more “pure”.

        In a nutshell, the Torah is what has kept us around for this long. Had we been atheist 2000 years ago, we would have disappeared as a nation shortly after we were exiled from our land.

        The situation in modern day Israel is one big mix up. They will allow just about anyone that claims to be Jewish to move there, provided they aren’t arabs. They’ve even got neo nazi Russians that are Israeli citizens.

        • Esther October 19, 2010, 1:54 PM

          Neo nazi Russians????? What are you talking about????????

          • Phil October 19, 2010, 2:05 PM

            Esther,

            They were busted 1-2 years ago.
            See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6985808.stm

            • Esther October 19, 2010, 4:12 PM

              I hadn’t heard…how awful! And reading this “The suspects all migrated to Israel under the Law of Return which allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to become a citizen.” makes me wish for stricter guidelines for letting people in…

              Thanks for the info

              • Phil October 19, 2010, 4:23 PM

                Esther,

                Exactly my point. According to Eden, Skeptic & company, these nazi Russians are probably considered Jews because their grandparents might have eaten chulent. Just more proof of how twisted their mentally can be.

                Notice none of them answered how atheists define who Jews are.

                • Esther October 19, 2010, 5:15 PM

                  This bothers me on so many levels…

                  Being Russian and Jewish, it bothers me that these people had any traces of either in them…i just don’t get how people can be so filled with blind hatred and how they got to be this way at such a young age (suspects ranged from 16 to 21!!!!)

                  In terms of definition, that’s not an easy question to answer…growing up among predominantly Christian kids, I knew that you defined by the father. I now know that in Judaism you go by the mother. Fortunately, both my parents are Jewish so the change in definition did not change how I define myself. Now, I am not an atheist, but I am also not what you’d call religious and yet this definition of a person as Jewish as long as their mother is Jewish is the only one I know and the only one I use…

                  I thought I read somewhere in the comment thread an answer to this question from “abandoning eden” …you may want to double check.

                  • Phil October 21, 2010, 12:28 PM

                    Esther,

                    Didn’t notice anything in Eden’s post stating how an atheist defines who is considered Jewish.

                    Maybe our enlightened skeptic can assist us…

        • Mahla October 21, 2010, 7:54 PM

          Oh my gosh, the Nazi Russians, that’s just plain crazy. :^O YIKES!

  • hannah October 18, 2010, 7:28 PM

    Anyone see this.. if only everything was this simple.. whats next.. there going to give out money?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pvku53FL3T8&feature=channel

  • FrumGer October 18, 2010, 7:35 PM

    Skeptic but jewish- the old line is that if a scientist believes in G-d then he is irresponsible. what about Albert Einstien who rejected atheism completly? would you say he was just a sub par irresposible scientist?

    also if at anytime you would like to debate give me your best crack on why there is no G-d… I have never had one atheist in all my life ever, even come close to bringing a solid argument on why they believe there is no G-d.

    Every debate I ever have had all I hear are arguments on why religion is false. but that is just an argument for a deist G-d versus a theist G-d- not an actual argument against G-d himself or the concept of a supreme creator.

    That kind of argument is not one for atheism. It would be at best an argument for agnosticism. So you skeptic but Jewish or anyone else please. devoid of your cyclical logic smoke and mirrors on why religion is false, prove to me or at least argue on why G-d doesn’t exist.

    • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 9:24 PM

      FrumGer can you disprove the existence that Jesus was the Lord and Savior of the universe with irrefutable certainty? But you still do not believe in him. When you understand why you reject Jesus you will understand why I reject the magical skygod Yahweh.

      Besides I do not have any problem with God. Deism does not bother me and I do not argue against it. I do not think it is stupid for being to be deists, that is understandable. Many of my heroes from history were deists. My problem is theism.

      If you are more convinced by deism than atheism than be a deist. But you cannot jump from deism into theism. Deism for practical purposes is atheism: deists do not believe in an afterlife, they do not believe that God communicates with people, they do not believe in prophets, nor do they believe in miracles. Deism has far more in common with atheism than with theism. But it is ridiculous to argue for deism and still be a theist – like yourself. If you think that God exists, fine, but do not use that to imply that the Torah is true and that God has a personal relationship with people. Because for that position there is no good argument whatsoever.

    • G*3 October 18, 2010, 10:07 PM

      > what about Albert Einstien who rejected atheism completly? would you say he was just a sub par irresposible scientist

      1. This is an appeal to authority. What Einstein may have believed has nothing to do with whether it is irresponsible for a scientist to believe in God. (For the record, I don’t think “irresponsible” is the right word here, but whatever.)
      2. How do you get from “irresponsible” to “sub-par?” Einstein was brilliant, but he also had a tendency to forget things like putting on socks.
      3. Einstein, if he was anything religiously, was a pantheist. He’s on record as saying that if he believes in any sort of God it’s Spinoza’s God, the Divine in the universe. Remember that Spinoza was put in cherem.

      > also if at anytime you would like to debate give me your best crack on why there is no G-d… I have never had one atheist in all my life ever, even come close to bringing a solid argument on why they believe there is no G-d.

      Most atheists believe there is no God for the same reason you believe there isn’t an invisible, intangible purple elephant standing behind your chair right now. There’s no reason to believe such a thing. If someone were to claim that the elephant was in the room with you, the burden of proof is on them to show that the invisible, intangible purple elephant is there, not on you to show that it isn’t.

      • Yankel October 19, 2010, 1:37 AM

        G3,
        An invisible purple elephant doesn’t explain anything. It is not a necessity in order for one to be (at least to some degree)intellectually correct.

        It doesn’t explain the question of “How could evoloution have happened with statistics making it straight up impossible a trillion times over”.

        It doesn’t answer the big question of “Where does any existance originate from”.

        It doesn’t explain why humans have a completely illogical sense of right and wrong – unlike every other creature we know of.

        It doesn’t explain how against every rule of history – Jews still exist.

        It doesn’t explain the obvious wisdom – we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of – apparant within all of the universe.

        It doesn’t explain how we have feelings of love, shame, sadness and depression.

        It doesn’t explain the wisdom and foresight of the Torah.

        It doesn’t explain how 3,000,000 people all believed G-d revealed Himself to them at a mountain, and instructed them on how life was supposed to be lived.

        It doesn’t explain how individuals like yourself have the ability to stare evidence in the face and say “You are not there”.

        • G*3 October 19, 2010, 2:07 AM

          > An invisible purple elephant doesn’t explain anything.

          Neither does God. “God did it” is not an explanation for how something works, it just adds an extra step. Be that as it may, that’s not the point of the elephant example. The point was that it’s impossible to prove a negative, and that without any reason to assume that a given phenomena exists, we assume that it doesn’t.

          > It doesn’t explain the question of “How could evoloution have happened with statistics making it straight up impossible a trillion times over”.

          1. What does evolution have to do with the existence of God?
          2. That simply isn’t true. Evolution is a fact about as well established as any other natural phenomenon. You’re probably thinking of abiogenesis, the formation of life from non-life. Given the number of planets in the universe and the staggeringly huge number of simultaneous trials taking place on all of those planets, the formation of a self-replicating form is pretty much inevitable.

          Besides, statistics don’t work that way. That something is unlikely says nothing about whether it actually happened. It’s very unlikely that I’ll win the lottery, but if I do it’s foolish to insist that I didn’t because the odds of it happening are so low.

          > It doesn’t explain why humans have a completely illogical sense of right and wrong

          Why is it illogical? Morals allow us to build complex societies which better our chances of surviving.

          > unlike every other creature we know of.

          Except the other great apes, who also exhibit a sense of right and wrong and even altruism.

          > It doesn’t explain how against every rule of history – Jews still exist.

          This is one of the better arguments, but ultimately unconvincing. Jews exist as a distinct group largely BECAUSE we were persecuted and not allowed to assimilate into the general population. There was even a Jewish community in Rome known as the Pope’s Jews that was preserved because of Christian beliefs about the necessity of Jews for the Second Coming to take place.

          > It doesn’t explain the obvious wisdom – we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of –apparant within all of the universe.

          Such as…?

          > It doesn’t explain how we have feelings of love, shame, sadness and depression.

          For that you might want to talk to a neuropsychologist. Feelings are caused by brain chemistry, just like everything else we experience.

          > It doesn’t explain the wisdom and foresight of the Torah.

          You really don’t want to go there.

          > It doesn’t explain how 3,000,000 people all believed G-d revealed Himself to them at a mountain

          The Kuzari has been debunked ad nasueum, so suffice it to say that there weren’t three million people in all of Egypt at the time.

          > It doesn’t explain how individuals like yourself have the ability to stare evidence in the face and say “You are not there”.

          As soon as you provide some evidence, I’ll be happy to change my mind. My life would be much simpler if Judaism was the Truth. Until then, say hi to the purple elephant for me.

          • Yankel October 19, 2010, 3:15 AM

            >Neither does God. “God did it” is not an explanation for how something works, it just adds an extra step.<

            Yes it does. I don't know what you mean by "extra step".
            The only argument possible is "Prove it".

            We do have a reason, it explains things very well.

            >1. What does evolution have to do with the existence of God?<

            Because if it was a conscious positive action of his, it makes sense how it actually worked, and is no longer up to statistics.

            No it isn’t. That things have evolved – yes. That the world was formed through evolotion – it’s a far out theory, rediculously underdeveloped, but it’s the only theory they have (being that creation is not possible according to their religion), so I guess that must be the “fact ” you refer to.

            >the formation of a self-replicating form is pretty much inevitableThat something is unlikely says nothing about whether it actually happened. It’s very unlikely that I’ll win the lottery, but if I do it’s foolish to insist that I didn’t because the odds of it happening are so lowWhy is it illogical? Morals allow us to build complex societies which better our chances of surviving<

            But it doesn't explain why humans inherenly feel the truth of morals. Only why societies would want them. And please do me a favor and don't try the "Morals evolved with the continual brainwashing of societies, generation after generation".

            gtg ttyl

            • G*3 October 19, 2010, 11:23 AM

              > I don’t know what you mean by “extra step”.

              Let’s try and explain why when you drop things they fall to the floor. The religious explanation is because God wills it. But how does it work? How does God actually cause things to fall? Well you see, He created the space-time continuum in such a way that massive bodies curve space around them, and objects seek the shortest distance towards each other (or something like that). Now what have we gained by adding God’s will instead of simply saying that objects fall because of the curvature of space-time? It’s an unnecessary complication.

              > That the world was formed through evolution

              What?! Evolution addresses the origins of biodiversity. It has nothing at all to do with cosmology. That species evolve is a fact. That evolution says anything at all about where the world comes from, or even about where life comes from, is just not true.

              None of which has anything to do with this discussion. Even if evolution was shown to be false, that would just mean that we’re back to the default “I don’t know” when it comes to explaining biodiversity. There are more possibilities than evolution by natural selection and God, and proving one false doesn’t prove the other correct. To prove something is true one needs positive evidence in favor of it.

              > But it doesn’t explain why humans inherenly feel the truth of morals.

              Brain chemistry. Our instincts evolved because they were useful in propagating our DNA. We instinctively have an aversion to corpses because corpses carry diseases, and those people who instinctively disliked corpses were less likely to get sick and die and so survived to have children in greater numbers than those who hung out around dead bodies. Similarly, those with an instinctive aversion to killing their neighbors (and other immoral acts) were better able to form societies and gain the survival benefits of living in a society.

              > And please do me a favor and don’t try the “Morals evolved with the continual brainwashing of societies, generation after generation”.

              This wasn’t a conscious effort made to “brainwash” morals into society, it was a trait selected for by evolutionary pressure. It is true, though, that the details of moral systems are culturally determined and change from time to time and place to place. I’ve explained why morality is selected for. Asking others to refrain from using a given argument is not in itself an argument.

              • FrumGer October 19, 2010, 4:49 PM

                These evolutionary instincts you call morality are not instincts at all, read a history book. many societies in antiquity were actually quite comfortable with killing stealing being in proximity with corpses etc.

                its only once the Torah through christianity and islam shaped western ideology that we have the social economic taboos we consider normative morality. in other words you only know its wrong to steal & kill because of the Torah. period. any one arguing the converse is a bafoon.

                • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 3:20 PM

                  So, according to this line of thinking, it is good to have morals, yes? And the only way to get morals is through a revelation that brings the Torah, which for some odd reason is made to be really similar to folktales in other cultures that already existed, but fine. Why did God care so little for the previous generations? Why didn’t he say “Ok, you guys screwed up and ate the apple, here’s the Torah.” No, according to this kind of thinking, he apparently delighted in seeing his own children killing each other for many generations before deciding to let them see the book he wrote before creation.

                  • Yankel October 22, 2010, 3:37 AM

                    I’ve heard some decent questions about how G-d runs his world, and how it would appear to have been better had he run it differently.
                    All have answers, some with the recognition that we just don’t understand his ways.

                    But this one is pretty simple even according to our understanding.

                    The Torah cannot just ‘be given’ to anybody. A) It wouldn’t accomplish what G-d intended for it to.
                    B) It wouldn’t be adhered to.

                    This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that it was given only to the Jewish as opposed to all of humanity.

                    The Jewish nation is not this random group which ‘just happened to get the Torah’.
                    There’s a reason why we were chosen, and why we have the capacity to uphold it.

                    The Torah necessarily needed to be given to a people who would have undergone a development process before accepting the Torah.

                    This would have to begin with individuals perfecting themselves to a point where even their offspring for all generations to come would possess certain characteristics and abilities.

                    These were the Patriarchs who got to a level where their entire esscence, and everything they did/said/thought was nothing other than a manifestation of G-d’s will itself.

                    Afterwards, the decendents would need to undergo a ‘purifying’ process. This was the enslavement in Egypt followed by the Exodus.

                    Between the time of Adam and Avraham, anybody who wished could have toiled on perfecting himself to the point that he’d be the founder of a nation who would recieve the Torah.
                    Nobody did – other than Avraham.

                    • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:26 PM

                      By your standards, none of that worked either. 90% of the Jews in the world do not do what you do. Of the other 10%, I’d estimate you’d disqualify roughly 8%, if you’re like most frum Jews I’ve met.

                    • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:27 PM

                      Nonetheless, your answer does nothing to salvage the point I was responding to. I take it, then, that you disagree with that point from FrumGer?

              • AS October 19, 2010, 9:23 PM

                3,000,ooo people did not testify to what happened at Sinai. Not all of them, allegedly of course since this story was written over time and then compiled at around the times of Ezra, who were at Sinai came into Israel. The overwhelming majority died out. So only about 30,000, which already falls into reasonable doubt when considering this happened 3000+ years ago.

                • Yankel October 21, 2010, 4:51 AM

                  The story wasn’t “written over time”.
                  It was completed in full before the Jews entered Israel, 1000 years before Ezra.
                  The only things “compiled” were the later prophets and writings.
                  Many more than 30,000 entered Israel, only those 20 and above who cried over the reports of the spies died.
                  Besides, even if the number was significantly reduced later, at one point there were 3,000,000 who testified to it.

                  The fact that it happened 3000 years ago doesn’t give it any more or less weight, unless it is being mentioned now for the first time, and we have seen a nice period of time where people closer to the event didn’t give it proper credibility.

                  That’s like saying “In 3000 years, if someone would want to deny that George Washington ever existed – it would be logically correct for him to do so, being that so much time lapsed”.

                  Once something’s proven, the proof remains valid until you can efficiently discredit the proof.

                  • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:28 PM

                    Yet what he’s responding to is the workings of the proof.

          • Mahla October 19, 2010, 9:31 AM

            Whoa, the Pope’s Jews! I never heard that before. Very interesting!

          • Guest October 19, 2010, 11:50 AM

            “This is one of the better arguments, but ultimately unconvincing. Jews exist as a distinct group largely BECAUSE we were persecuted and not allowed to assimilate into the general population. ”

            Thanks for this bit of BS reasoning. Honesty now compels me to no longer take you seriously.

            • Mahla October 27, 2010, 9:57 AM

              Why do you say that, Guest? I can find no fault with the statement that “Jews exist as a distinct group largely BECAUSE [they] were persecuted and not allowed to assimilate into the general population.”

              I’ll tell you why that statement rings true to me. As soon as the Jewish race was allowed to assimilate into the mainstream, it began to do just that, and at a rate Torah-observant Jews find repugnant and alarming.

              Just look at the percentage of young Jews marrying out of the faith — in most cases going on to rear children that are not Jewish by the Orthodox definition. And the percentage of halachically Jewish young adults getting an exclusively secular education.

              I hope I am making sense and not saying anything offensive.

            • Puzzled October 27, 2010, 10:08 AM

              Was this not the Alter Rebbe’s position, i.e. why he preferred the Czar over Napoleon?

  • EZ October 18, 2010, 10:16 PM

    Phil – if human history were a math equation or a logic problem, you could say this if one believes the origins were not true, everything that follows would have no value. Alas, human history is not as pure as such an equation.

    Even if a Jew does not believe in God, he can believe in Jewish values (importance of books/study) and a shared history (family/nation going through the Holocaust, the return to Israel, etc.). In fact, how could someone ignore it?

    • Phil October 19, 2010, 8:05 AM

      EZ,

      Books/study aren’t necessarily Jewish values, especially if God and the Torah are some bogus figments of someone’s imagination.

      Furthermore, Jews have absolutely no claim to the land of Israel without the Torah. Our claim is that God gave it to us eternally, so we have eternal rights to it. Otherwise, you could say Balfour/UN gave it to us, so Balfour/UN has the right to take it away.

      Why should an atheist believe that Jews have any more rights to Israel than Native Americans have a right to Manhattan or Florida?

      This is a prime example of schizophrenic atheism.

      • Mahla October 27, 2010, 10:03 AM

        “Jews have absolutely no claim to the land of Israel without the Torah.” :^O !!! I can’t believe you just said that, Phil.

        • Yorah K'Chetz (aka Phil) October 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

          Mahla,

          Why not? Just because we might have lived their 2000 years ago?

          Following that logic, the native Americans should have rights to North and South America and the Vikings should own Newfoundland…

          Torah says that the entire land is ours down to every last grain of sand, from the Mediterranean until the Euphrates, and that it is meant for Jews to live their under Torah law. Anyone else that want’s to follow the rules is welcome, and whoever doesn’t like it can hit the road.

          If the nation and it’s govt followed at least that part,
          Israel wouldn’t be in the political mess it is in today, and the majority of the world’s REAL Jews would live there.

          • Mahla October 27, 2010, 12:29 PM

            Those are really thought-provoking comments. The whole Israel situation is a schizophrenic mess, and the more nuanced my understanding of it becomes, the ~more~ rather than ~less~ confusing it is. :^(

            • Phil October 27, 2010, 3:32 PM

              Mahla,

              It doesn’t have to be confusing. The politicians on both sides keep it confusing in order to keep their faces in the limelight and to suck money from the Americans, Europeans, etc.

              I’ll take it one step further. Even according to religious opinions that claim we don’t have any rights to the land yet, such as Satmar, Neturei Karta, etc, we still have a moral and halachic obligation to protect Jewish lives.

              The famous talmudic case is if 3 Jew live in an area even outside Israel and non Jews come to steal straw, other Jews from surrounding areas must violate Shabbat and come to their aid, and use any force necessary to defend the straw.

              How much more so when millions of Jewish lives are constantly at risk, surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile neighbors. Israel’s obligation under halacha (in my opinion) would be to go out on pre-emptive warfare and decimate any potential threat before if gets worse.

              If the rest of the world bitches and moans, so be it. They are already bitching and moaning now, at least in my scenario, they’d shut up after a few weeks, and Jews living in Israel would be safer.

              • Mahla October 28, 2010, 1:55 PM

                Here are some of the things I have found out about Jews & Israel since becoming curious about Judaism that have totally blown my mind:

                1. That there are some Jews who don’t support Israel (I had no idea there were any)

                2. That there are some ultra-Orthodox Jews who don’t support Israel (that REALLY shocked me)

                3. That there are some Jews ACTUALLY LIVING IN ISRAEL who don’t support Israel

                4. That there are observant Jews living outside of Israel who are hawkish on the topic of Israel … but are making no effort to move their families to Israel (why not?)

                5. That there are non-observant Jews living outside of Israel who are hawkish on the topic of Israel … however, rabid support for the Israeli state is the whole extent of their Jewish identity (which seems crazy)

                Anyway, I’m glad to have an appreciation of the fact there are such diverse angles on whole Israel thing within the Jewish community, but I don’t think I’ll ever make heads or tails of it.

                • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) October 28, 2010, 2:41 PM

                  Mahla,

                  You’re probably thinking of people like myself in category #4.

                  Rest assured, I would love to move there and so would my wife. 2 major issues holding us back:

                  1) We both have businesses here, would be tough to start over there.

                  2) More importantly, I have no trust whatsoever in the Israeli govt, right, left or center are all equally useless to me. They value their CNN image more than the lives of their soldiers, and the political opinon of anti semites more than the lives of their own citizens. The gaza pullout and fully avoidable military blunders are proof.

                  Would you uproot your familiy’s your life and comfort to move to a country you don’t trust? One that might kick you out of your home to appease your enemies? One that would force your kids into an army they make little effort to protect?

                  • Mahla October 28, 2010, 4:57 PM

                    Yeah, I actually have come to see that point of view. (That there are many observant Jews who are not very happy with the way that Israel’s being run right now.)

                    Before I began to understand that, I had to learn that the people who founded & shaped present-day Israel were not themselves particularly observant, and that their intention from the very start was ~not~ to found a state for devout Jews. Which I had always kind of assumed was the case.

                    • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) October 28, 2010, 5:18 PM

                      Mahla,

                      Actually, most Hasidic groups were against the founding of the state, Chabad included.

                      However, once it was founded and so many Jews live there, it is against halacha to endanger their lives by compromising their security in any way, especially useless land concessions to bloodthirsty enemies.

                      The only person I would trust in charge of Israel was unfortunately assassinated about 20 years ago, namely Rabbi Meir Kahane. Check out some of his debates on Youtube, much of his stuff is almost prophetic.

                • John October 28, 2010, 5:09 PM

                  Mahla, if you’d like to see a real eye-opening band of crazies check out neturei karta (they have a website, lots of youtube videos etc). Though, they are viewed as nuts by even the most anti-Israel segments of ultra-orthodox jewry

                  • Mahla October 28, 2010, 5:28 PM

                    I will check them out!

  • S. Tefilinov October 18, 2010, 10:16 PM

    atheists? you mean spiritually disabled!

    • SkepticButJewish October 18, 2010, 11:46 PM

      “atheists? you mean spiritually disabled!”:

      Oh wow, what an insult! I can play the same game. Theists: mentally disabled.

      • S. Tefilinov October 22, 2010, 11:00 AM

        atheists? you mean walking talking objects?

        • G*3 October 25, 2010, 3:22 PM

          > atheists? you mean walking talking objects?

          Are tautologies insults now? Okay then.

          You’re a HUMAN!

          • Dovybear October 27, 2010, 8:14 AM

            He’s not being tautological with his statement – the word “objects” does not imply that they walk or talk – it is not a repetition of an idea. What he is trying to say is that although the person in question may walk and talk they are little more than an object (and not a human with all that the word entails). Just saying.

            • G*3 October 28, 2010, 2:53 PM

              I know what he meant.

              Atheists are people. People are (among other things) walking talking objects. Therefore to say an atheist is a walking talking object is a tautology.

              • Dovybear October 28, 2010, 5:30 PM

                Oh right… I thought you were complaining about the second part (which is not tautological)…

  • AS October 19, 2010, 12:42 AM

    To all those who say the awe of the universe convinced them of God’s existence, then I will ask the same question David Hume proposes. Even if this does infer design, which it does not BTW, how do you know that the world came about as a result of a UNITY of design, in others words, monotheism?

    • Yankel October 19, 2010, 1:44 AM

      Why would you assume two people wrote one letter?

      You see a book with no named author, why assume two people wrote it?

      We could have a philosophical discussion about how it’s necessary for an infinite being to exist, and why it’s impossible for more than one infinite being to exist, but there are enough simple answers out there without it.

      • G*3 October 19, 2010, 2:12 AM

        > We could have a philosophical discussion about how it’s necessary for an infinite being to exist,

        Ooh, can we? Please?

        Let’s start with where this infinite Being came from, and why positing an Infinite metaphysical Being is better than positing an infinite material universe.

        • Yankel October 20, 2010, 12:06 PM

          “Let’s start with where this infinite Being came from”

          Exactly the point I was trying to bring out. If he’s infinite – he didn’t come from anywhere.
          He’s infinite, remember? That means no beginning or end.

          In order for anything (non-infinite) to exist, an infinite being necessarily had to bring it into existence from nothingness, or form it from something else which was already created.
          If we could conceive of absolutely nothing existing, (which is impossible even if we assume everything we see is an illusion, because who are we the conceivers?) then we could theoretically consider that there is no infinite being – at least on a superficial level.
          Since however there is clearly that which exists, we must conclude that something infinite preceded all of it.

          “and why positing an Infinite metaphysical Being is better than positing an infinite material universe.”

          Conceiving of an infinite material universe is extremely difficult – even in theory alone.
          Mainly because that which is composite was necessarily brought into being, ie: infinite and physical are mutually exclusive.
          Also because getting movement, development, and life into the picture are unavoidable dead ends.

          Surprisingly, the standard refutation of that option has always been, that the world is too complicated, and shows too many signs of stages and processes happening to be attributed to a random unintentional force and an intelligent design is too apparent to dismiss.
          Similar to the idea of the parable R’ Meir gave to the heretic with the cat and the ink, just with implication in place of statistics.

          An infinite universe (assuming we can think of one) would necessitate that no new things ever come about, no planetary development, no destruction of beings, etc

          As I mentioned in another post, the only even remotely rational theory which included an infinite being yet didn’t include the Jewish/Monotheistic G-d idea was Aristotle’s theory of the eternity of the universe.
          And it did include A G-d, just not our idea. And it has been proven to be false many times by now.

          • Yankel October 24, 2010, 2:32 AM

            And G3 has left the building…

            • G*3 October 25, 2010, 3:43 PM

              > And G3 has left the building…

              Sorry, I get bored of these debates after a couple of days. They tend to just go around and around, covering ground that’s been argued thousands of times already and without anyone convincing anyone else.

              What you’re arguing here is called the Cosmological Argument, and the arguments both for and against are very old.

              The basic objection to it is that it’s a case of special pleading.

              > Mainly because that which is composite was necessarily brought into being, ie: infinite and physical are mutually exclusive.

              Says you. How do you know that matter and energy haven’t always been here, and time is quirk of how they’re currently arranged?

              > Also because getting movement, development, and life into the picture are unavoidable dead ends.

              Again, says you. All you need to get movement is energy, and there are viable theories of abiogenesis which at least provide proof-of-concept.

              > An infinite universe (assuming we can think of one) would necessitate that no new things ever come about, no planetary development, no destruction of beings, etc

              Why? Infinite in this context doesn’t mean unchanging, it means always existing.

              • Yankel October 26, 2010, 2:29 AM

                The things I’m stating here are all pretty much established laws of philosophy. It’s not “says me”.

                “Sorry, I get bored of these debates after a couple of days. They tend to just go around and around, covering ground that’s been argued thousands of times already and without anyone convincing anyone else.”

                Correct, but if you look at the results of virtually all the debates, they basically all end with the Theist insisting that the above is valid “proof”, and the Athiest insisting that (although perhaps likely and mabe even convincing) it’s not solid “proof”, because we never know what discoveries we will still make in science and philosophy, which could theoretically change everything about the above argument.

                Which I think is a cop-out.

                Look at how you roll your eyes whenever a fundamentalist tries to answer the Torah-science difficulties by saying “we don’t know what we will still discover… maybe carbon/fossil dating will prove to be wrong… science keeps improving, and ultimately it’ll realize the truths of the Torah”

                It’s a bankrupt answer for someone to whom logic is the starting point.

                According to you, your opinion should be “since as of now we don’t have an explanation, we can and should assume the only possibility we can think of – at least until we come up with something better”.

                • G*3 October 28, 2010, 3:54 PM

                  Let me see if I understand you.

                  You hold that:
                  1. We need an explanation for the origins of the universe. (I agree.)
                  2. The only explanation we can think of is God. (I’m not sure that’s true, but I’ll grant it for sake of argument.)
                  3. We should accept this explanation “until we come up with something better.”

                  3 is where we disagree. God isn’t an answer to where the universe came from. It’s a placeholder. I don’t know where the universe came from, and I am willing to say I don’t know. You also don’t know where the universe came from, but you insist on having an explanation, so you say a magical Being created it. Positing God to explain the origin of the universe has no more explanatory power than saying it was magic, and is no different than the old claim that demons cause diseases: using a magical entity to explain something we don’t understand.

                  Please understand, I’m not claiming that one day we’ll figure out where the universe came from, therefore right now we don’t need God. I’m saying that even if we never figure out where the universe came from, the default answer is “I don’t know,” not “magic.”

  • AS October 19, 2010, 7:04 AM

    Yankel, you cannot compare a book to our actual existence. We have experienced people writing books, but have we experienced what triggered the event that caused the expansion of the universe?

    • Guest October 19, 2010, 11:54 AM

      “Yankel, you cannot compare a book to our actual existence. We have experienced people writing books, but have we experienced what triggered the event that caused the expansion of the universe?”

      What a canard. A child knows a book was authored by a human being, before they even acquire the capacity to write. You don’t have to actually witness a book actually being written to believe this.

      • AS October 19, 2010, 5:57 PM

        That is NOT what I meant by experience.

        • Yankel October 21, 2010, 5:05 AM

          My point was far simpler.
          If it’s possible and plausible for something to have been done by one means, we don’t assume it was done by more than one.

          The ancient Romans who opposed this idea, did so based on the presumption that we see a clear sign of diversity in existence.
          That of good and that of evil.

          They could not accept that one designer was responsible for both, so they concluded that there was a “Good G-d” and a “Bad G-d”.

          But in my opinion these arguments are all trivial. The main reason this is impossible, is because of our established premise that an infinite being necessarily exists, and if there would be two infinite beings, by definition neither one would be infinite.

      • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 3:23 PM

        Hmm, the Torah is the only source of values, yet people arguing in favor of it cannot manage to write a response without an insult.

        • Yankel October 26, 2010, 2:34 AM

          All because we experienced something, that does not make it any more or less likely to have happened on it’s own.

          Each phenominon must be analyzed individually, and we always assume the least possible amount of causes to explain how something occured.

          And (puzzled) you’re a very nice guy.

  • Frumsatire Fan October 19, 2010, 11:02 AM

    – Re. “Default position”: I think this would be agnosticism rather than atheism – that is to say “I can’t know”, rather than “I affirm God doesn’t exist”.
    – Re. Zeus: as someone pointed out, this is a different problem. The being/existence of God predates any of our conceptualizations. There are different ways of thinking about God (different religions, and different “words”), but thse don’t affect God’s existence.
    – Most atheists I’ve met (as opposed to agnostics) come across as very smug. They look down on us, poor backward folks. I guess they have to.
    – Science is great, and it’s advanced spectacularly in the last 100 years. Fine. But our society is a bit high on science. Science isn’t the only tool we have to understand reality and our relationship with it: there’s also philosophy and religion, but our obsession with science has made us despise them. Our education systems favor specialization, so most educated people (esp. scientists) don’t really study any philosophy – which would be very useful for them to frame certain questions. You can’t say anything about God in science-talk, because God isn’t a “thing” or a natural phenomenon.

    • G*3 October 19, 2010, 11:37 AM

      > Re. “Default position”: I think this would be agnosticism rather than atheism – that is to say “I can’t know”, rather than “I affirm God doesn’t exist”.

      I agree the default position is “I don’t know.” But then what? Practically speaking, you live your life as if there is a god(s) or as if there isn’t.

  • FrumGer October 19, 2010, 1:34 PM

    G*3 and Skeptic.

    I reject the theology of Jesus because of overwhelming proof against it. Belief in Jesus as messiah or even a god is base solely in religious logic, which does not ad up. this has nothing to do with scientific knowledge. I understand that. I choose to believe my theism because I choose to believe in it. there is not overwhelming proof that Moshe heard from G-d or that he just made all of it up. but I choose to believe it.

    out of the monotheistic faiths, this one is the most relevant to me. the others- xianism islam are clear bastardized versions of my religion so i reject those and embrace this one. but this is not scientific its religious.

    scientifically, there has to be a omega point, and also a creative force. thermodynamics will not allow an absolute zero within our laws. thermodynamics maintain that heat (energy) cannot be initiated or destroyed. everything is transferable. so in order for any creative force to occur it has to start with a creative/ obviously powerful source outside of our system of universal laws. period. That what ever you might call it is G-d. period.

    Evolution is no more an answer to things than anything else. it not a fact actually, it is still a theory it has not been proven to the point of scientific law. but it is push so hard by scientist (with egos the size of this planet) because they hate to have a variable. they need to know everything, and evolution takes that out of the equation.

    see scientist rely on 99% presumtion and 1% fact. they derive wholistic theories based on little data. darwin did not know shit about cellular life compared to what we know now and what we are learning makes it harder for evloution in the way its presented to be rectified.

    Scientist will tell you the sun/stars are made of hydrogen atoms slamming into each other to form helium. but they have never been within a million miles of the sun to actually test it. they pass it off like they know but really there is no way to know. genetic mutations are 99.9% negative. that means each species had to have 99.9 failed attempts in order to complete a positive genetic mutation.

    evolution has huge odds against it that’s why scientists keep adding more more time on the history of the earth for it to work. the bigger problem is that through out all the presumed failed attempts for each species to genetically mutate in a progressive way their would be so much fossil data on the numerous attempts that are just not there.

    fossil data does not validate a genetically mutated evolving of species. scientist wont say that because they needed a reason in the 1800’s not to believe in the bible and the first thing that came along that could work they latched on to it. and until something better comes along they will continue to.

    and if your smart teacher at harvard said it was true you the impressionable student will to, and so on and so on. Darwinists and evolutionist are just as indoctrinated as mormons.

    i believe in G-d because I dont buy into the bullshit, and I have courage enough to. what is funny is they still cant create a cell from no life. the closest anyone has got had to start with an existing bactirium. Dawkins now thinks aliens put life on this planet. Aliens. this guy hates religion so much that he believes that aliens might have created us but a god could not have. absurd.

    their are just as many streches of logic, groundless assumptions, presumptions and lies in the religion of Atheism as any other religion.
    there is no proof that G-d doesnt exist so it should at the very least be a viable respectable option.

    • ShanaMaidel October 19, 2010, 6:35 PM

      One of the good things about knowing astrophysicists (or former ones, now doing other things, we produce way too many phds in the subject):

      we’ve observed hydrogen turning into helium in the sun.

      And bones rot. Or turn to oil. or fossils. it is why you heat up oil to purify it into different grades when you refine it…gotta get the calcium out.

      • FrumGer October 19, 2010, 8:34 PM

        bull no one has ever seen an atom in the sun. period. ever. period. no one has ever observed that period at all in any way shape or form.

        yes bodies decompose but they also in many times leave fossils. and in those cases there is no data to support the mass amounts of mutations.

        they build a “Cave man” out of a jaw bone they say with certainty so many things about dinosaurs i wont begin to name it all like they really know and act like its fact until someone comes out with some other idea. its all speculation. all of it. I love science But at least I have the chutpah to admit it.

    • AS October 19, 2010, 9:10 PM

      “Dawkins now thinks aliens put life on this planet”

      That stupid and false statement should discredit EVERYTHING you have said. Dawkins NEVER said this. He said if there would HAVE TO BE DESIGN, which he rejects, he believes the theory of some other life form “Seeding” life on the planet would be more plausible than God. NOT THAT HE ACCEPTS THIS.

      • FrumGer October 19, 2010, 10:06 PM

        say what you will I heard it come out of his mouth…. I admit he used the word perhaps. he was getting at the fact that he nor anyone knows how life came form non life. because evolution only explains one life form becoming another. evolution does not answer the life question.

        • AS October 20, 2010, 7:00 PM

          Even though the interview was conducted by the dishonest twat Ben Stein, it is VERY clear Dawkins rejects design. He said “perhaps” WHICH CHANGES EVERYTHING. If I say perhaps there is a flying teapot, THAT IS VERY DIFFERENT from saying there is a flying a tea pot.

          • Yankel October 21, 2010, 5:25 AM

            Regardless of the silliness of the argument, it still doesn’t in any way answer the question.
            All it does is attempt to push it out of sight.

            There is and will always be only one possible answer.

            The only reason it’s not automatically realized and admitted to, is because there is a “religion” which doesn’t allow consideration of any realm or reality other than our own visible one.

            But when you close off all options, and the only one you’re left with is the one which “technically can be true” but “isn’t visible” – logic dictates that you go with that option, and recognize the limitations of your vision instead of stubbornly insisting on an impossibility compatible with your vision.

            The big question basically, is nothing other than a statement that there is a reality which cannot be seen by our minds.

            But how do you refer to this inevitable reality which our minds detect but cannot comprehend?
            By saying “I don’t know”.

            Dawkins may not realize it, but he’s attesting to the concept of design, not opposing it.

  • Yankel October 19, 2010, 3:39 PM

    G3,
    >Isn’t that convenient.Premise one may be false. Statistically, particles pop in and out of existence all the time.The universe may be cyclic, going through an endless series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches, and so may actually be eternalAnd even if all the premises are true, the conclusion is a non-sequitur.Why does that not make sense?<

    Aristotle came up with the only logically sound theory in which one can believe in the ‘force’ G-d instead of the Jewish/Monotheistic idea. (Keep in mind he never proved anything, just opened a door of unlikely yet plausible belief in the philosophy ‘higher being’ idea).
    Since then his theory has been shot a hundred times.
    So now it’s back to not making sense.

  • Yankel October 19, 2010, 3:51 PM

    (Sorry, this was the whole post)
    G3,
    >Isn’t that convenient.Premise one may be false. Statistically, particles pop in and out of existence all the time.The universe may be cyclic, going through an endless series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches, and so may actually be eternalAnd even if all the premises are true, the conclusion is a non-sequitur.Why does that not make sense?<

    Aristotle came up with the only logically sound theory in which one can believe in the ‘force’ G-d instead of the Jewish/Monotheistic idea. (Keep in mind he never proved anything, just opened a door of unlikely yet plausible belief in the philosophy ‘higher being’ idea).
    Since then his theory has been shot a hundred times.
    So now it’s back to not making sense.

  • Yankel October 19, 2010, 3:53 PM

    (Ok, this time it better work…)
    G3,
    “Isn’t that convenient.”

    You usually have arguments which have at least some logic to them. I don’t know how you could have posted this. Not that you care, but I’m starting to lose some of my respect for you.

    We have a situation going on all around us.
    We don’t know any information about it other than what we see.
    We observe it and try to figure out what is happening.
    We come up with some ideas.
    Some could be true, some not really, some must be true.
    The following must be true:
    We recognize that it cannot have created itself.
    Nothing can create itself.
    We realize something which itself was not created must have created it.
    We call that “thing” G-d.
    We think about it and realize that if G-d was not created, he must be very different from us.
    He must be very different from us in an infinite sense.
    For starters, He created existence out of a non-existence.
    Everything we see or think of, was created by him – out of nothing.
    If he created them (they were not in existence previously ie: He existed at one point without them) he is certainly not bound by them.
    This includes time, space, and all other physical laws.
    We see signs of intelligence in the creation.
    We realize this must be an intelligent being.
    (sometimes) We realize this infinitely great and mighty being must have created us for a reason.
    We try to use our time here in existence, realizing what that reason might have been.

    These are not “convenient things” we attribute to G-d. They are the only possibility conceivable. That is why be we believe they are true.

    “Premise one may be false. Statistically, particles pop in and out of existence all the time.”
    Within the universe, with pre-existing matter/energy/space/time/magnetic/gravitational etc etc etc flying all over – perhaps.
    On their own, out of absolute nothingness – that’s back to baby talk.

    >The universe may be cyclic, going through an endless series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches, and so may actually be eternal

    This was a theory which was spewed a while ago, and besides for it not answering the question, just pushing it further back – it was since then shot. According to science, there was only one “big bang”, and there were never any “crunches”.
    The universe is expanding and continues to expand.

    “And even if all the premises are true, the conclusion is a non-sequitur.”

    No it’s not. It answers all questions perfectly. It only “doesn’t answer the question” if you will only accept a scientific answer.
    Meaning basically, that you have ‘emuna pshuta’ that there is no higher being.
    Sort of like a Breslover Athiest.
    You can even be the innovator of the D-DA-DAR-DARW-DARWIN clan if you chap up the opportunity now.

    “Why does that not make sense?”

    Aristotle came up with the only logically sound theory in which one can believe in the ‘force’ G-d instead of the Jewish/Monotheistic idea. (Keep in mind he never proved anything, just opened a door of unlikely yet plausible belief in the philosophy ‘higher being’ idea).
    Since then his theory has been shot a hundred times.
    So now it’s back to not making sense.

    • Dovybear October 19, 2010, 5:05 PM

      It wouldn’t be D-DA-DAR-DARW-DARWIN but D-DA-DAW-DORK-DAWKINS.

  • Cents October 19, 2010, 11:55 PM

    Hello, I am an atheist who has stumbled upon your blog via a google alert. I noticed that you are a group of Jewish people so I decided to follow along as I was born to two Jewish parents and so was interested to see where the discussion would go. I have no idea how old you are but I suspect you and the similarly minded group of associates on your blog are quite young. You seem quite confident of your position(s) as you believe in what you are taught, despite the very clear and rational statements and arguments presented by G*3and JewishSkeptic. (G3 in particular has provided well formulated position regarding the nature of facts and evidence in order to arrive at “truth”). It seems that you have taken the position that if you state your position forcefully enough that will make it convincing. I would suggest that you state your position with others who have learned to be skeptical and not to simply believe what they have been taught. You may discuss your position with them outside the confines of your blog in the skeptic/atheist blogosphere. There are many skeptical and atheist Blogs (just google them) where you can have a extremely stirring intellectual debate on god(s) and religion(s) that might even change your world view.
    Here is a common view in the Atheist community that see what you make of this argument:
    “It is clear that all the gods and all the religions that humanity has created cannot all be true, but they can all be false.”
    You of course would argue that Judaism is the one true religion. But if you were born in Iran the one true religion would be Islam. If you were born in India you would believe in Hinduism and its multiple gods who laugh at all the Abrahamic religions for being completely fallacious in believing in a single god.
    The reality of your god and your religion is that it is relative as your religious indoctrination and therefore your views are dependent on when in history and where on the planet you were born. So what to conclude given this reality of religion? The only logical conclusion is that none of them are true. Man created god and gods to explain the unknowns of life in prehistoric times (lightning, thunder, earthquakes, etcetera) and we have not up to now been able to get rid of them. Now we not only don’t need religion anymore, but religion has become harmful. All religions are destructive as they create religious divisions between all the people on the planet. Eventually the human species will need a global civilization based on secular values. We have a long way to go (hoping we get there sooner than later as global confrontation through religion and tribalism could lead to our extinction as a species). Anyways, good luck to you in learning about life. You are young and hopefully you will see that humanity will either live in peace by taking collective decisions for the global good or we will die in fighting or wasting of the resources on our small island of life in this solar system. One of the ways to do this is to remove unsupported beliefs that separate us and religion is one of those beliefs.
    It takes education and time to learn how to determine the truth about the world. However the process isn’t something that you need to discover on your own. It has been discovered by humanity and it is called the scientific method. It is the only method we humans have been able to devise that provides truth based on evidence about the world. Google the scientific method and good luck in applying it in life.

    • Esther October 20, 2010, 12:19 PM

      Your comments, and this phrase in particular: “Now we not only don’t need religion anymore…” reminded me of Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” concept and this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad_vs._McWorld, by Benjamin R. Barber, in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between “McWorld” (globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and “Jihad” (tradition and traditional values, often, most recognizably (media portrayal), in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy).

      In terms of “can’t we all just get along” utopian idealistic thinking, it’d be great if everyone had the same beliefs and traditions, because then there would be nothing to argue over. However, in the real world, if and when McLuhan’s global village ever does become a reality, it will be a VERY slow process and no group of people, not the Jewish people for sure, will give up their traditions, values and belief system, heck, their entire way of life, without a fight… Its much easier to say, “google the scientific method” than to make everyone follow it… its alot more complex than that…

  • FrumGer October 20, 2010, 1:25 AM

    I TOLD YOU SO!!!
    Cents provides proof that no Athiest can actually argue for true atheism. they only really argue on why Religions can be false or are false. I find it Hillarious that I am proven right again. thank you.

    Of course if I were born a christian I would believe in christ, oh wait I was born a christian… and dont… hmmmm ahwell irrelevant..

    No one doubts the fact that religions converse each other and are relative truth to the person believing it.

    Religion is not based in logic or science or anything that can be quantified. Religion is metaphysical and existential…

    I find it more and more Atheists really have nothing to say, all they know is that they hate religion. well good for you. but hating religion or unbelief in relgious systems no more proves that G-d is not real than religion proves that moses was on Sinai.

    classic atheist: “Im an atheist because I think religious systems are false archaic voodoo that only keeps the world from the enlightenment of peace and unity in science”.. “more people have killed in the name of G-d than…. blah blah blah”

    what does that prove other than that you are A-religious? Athiesm means you do not believe in a creator. but no one can prove that G-d doesnt exist in some capacity, and so because of that you all use misdirection and make it an argument about religion. but that is a non starter. Im not trying to prove to you that the Torah is true. or use biblical evidence on why my religion is right. But all of your logic says “I am going to prove G-d doesnt exist by proving that the Torah is false” Guess what? the Torah can be false and G-d can still exist. so you prove nothing. your reasons prove nothing. if you are an atheist then give me one solid explanation on why you do not believe that a creator could exist and stop bringing up religion which is irrelevant.

  • Cents October 20, 2010, 2:42 AM

    FrumGer, you claim that there exists an all-powerful being that knows everyone’s deepest thoughts and that can be called on for personal intervention through prayer. Surely you see that this is an execptional claim. “Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.” (google it)
    So where is your evidence? Again, you are making grandiose claims that there is this supreme being who is omnipotent, who looks after us, a “sky-daddy”. Where is your evidence?
    You may say to me well you can’t prove there is no god! Well I don’t have to prove anything. You have to prove god exists. The onus on those making exceptional claims is to provide the clear evidence for these claims.
    I can’t prove there isn’t a flying teapot between Venus and Mercury. I can’t prove there are no unicorns or leprechauns or Medusae, or any other fantasy being. Nobody needs to prove they don’t exist as there is simply no evidence that they do exist so they can be be considered to not exist until evidence is provided that they do. Statements made without evidence can be completely discounted as having no basis in fact.
    You might make the argument that my ancient holy book says … (cherry picking only the things you are prepared to believe (rather than all the ugly parts in the old testament for example) that does fit in with the morals of the modern world.
    Well what about every other holy book that have existed from the beginning of human history? Why is yours right and all the others wrong.
    You basically say you choose to believe in god because you have faith. Well there is nothing wrong with you having faith. But that isn’t evidence of anything. We didn’t get to this point in human civilization on faith. We got he despite the constraints of faith. The fight against science by religion has been a battle that has been a drag on science that science has not always won (ask about Galileo Galilei).
    Look at the fight to recognize an absolutely accepted fact of our world, evolution. Evolution is a fact, and the mechanism for evolution – natural selection has been known for 150 years courtesy Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Richard Dawkins in his latest book “The Greatest Show on Earth” which provides the evidence for evolution states:
    “[e]volution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired.”
    Note his reference to evolution being as true as the holocaust!! Yet 40% of American public do not believe it!! Why is that do you think that is so? Because of a literal belief in some ancient book written by goat herders who provided the “truth”. It’s simply preposterous position when 2000 years has passed considering with the knowledge of the world gained through science.
    If your belief in god gives you comfort that is good, but to claim god is real, you need evidence and since the beginning of recorded time no evidence of god has been provided. If you have any real evidence let me know. Both the rest of the world and I will be excited hear about it.

    • Dovybear October 20, 2010, 10:05 AM

      There’s so much in your post which is both factually incorrect and downright illogical that’s it’s really quite hard to know where to begin in answering to it. So, point one: If your reasons for disbelief lie in lack of proof for an exceptional claim and not disproof thereof that makes you agnostic not atheist. Also, you seem to require proof only for those exceptional claims that you reject and not those that you accept – surely evolution is as much an exceptional claim as G-d is but yet you blithely say “evolution is a fact.” Really? What because Richard Dawkins the great and holy prophet of neo-Darwinism said so? Is this not the unforgivable sin of the appeal to authority that non-believers so despise? What evidence does Dawkins produce apart from the old tired fossils that have been over-extrapolated to the point of nausea added to some speculation about mutations that has never been proven or witnessed (unlike, of course, the Holocaust which people saw with their own eyes – to compare the two is absurd to the point of idiocy).
      Next, to address the silly argument that because there are multiple religions, and therefore definitely false ones, all religions must be false. What kind of argument is that? I’m disagreeing with you here – one of us must be wrong, what makes you so sure that it’s not you and what makes me sure that it’s not me? Are we both wrong in that case? Ridiculous.
      “We got here despite the constraints of faith.” Another baseless blanket remark which cannot be proven.
      “Ask Galileo Galilei” Oh, that Galileo? The practising Catholic? Him? And Descartes, father of the scientific method whose basis for becoming a scientist was his belief in G-d? And Newton? Pascal? The great icon of the renaissance, Da Vinci, was a believer (despite his alleged sexual leanings). Of course, they don’t count. Nor does Einstein, apparently. Or Watson, he of DNA double-helix fame. Or any of the countless others I could name here. Oh but Dawkins says that evil religion stands in the way if holy science so it must be true.
      “the mechanism for it – natural selection – has been known for 150 years etc.”
      Sorry mate, but not even Dawkins believes that natural selection is the sole mechanism behind evolution – that went out of the window when Gregor Mendel discovered genetics (something that Darwin had no idea about, his idea of how traits were passed from one generation to another was radically different). Even today synthetic theory (i.e. the combination of natural selection and genetic mutation) is hotly contested, in fact no-one’s quite sure what the mechanism for macro-evolution actually is (micro-evolution’s a different story). Amongst the current contenders are the hopeful monster theory, classic neo-Darwinism, alien manipulation (a theory proposed by the same fellow who proposed panspermia in the first place – Francis Crick), the man-of-clay theory (which proposes that organic molecules inside certain minerals, such as clay, have some properties that affect macro-evolution) and a whole bunch of others – get enough scientists (cross-spectrum, not just evolutionary biologists) in the room and ask them for the mechanism for evolution and you’ll get nearly as many answers as people.
      As for your assertion that 40% of the American public believe in the Bible because they are brainwashed, again unprovable dogma, but you also might be surprised to know that even those of who don’t upwards of 90% believe in a G-d of some form. Oh dear, have I upset you?
      “It’s simply preposterous position when 2000 years has passed considering with the knowledge of the world gained through science.”
      Ignoring all your basic grammar and syntax errors, this is a fallacious argument on many levels. One, who cares how old something is? What difference does that have to the truth of it? Two, what difference does scientific progress make to the existence of G-d; just because science has discovered the four flavours of quarks G-d can’t exist? Three, to quote the late, great Bertrand Russell: “whether we like it or not, science simply cannot adjudicate on the matter of G-d”.
      “Since the beginning of recorded time no evidence of G-d has been provided”. Make that “no evidence that [sic] you agree with has been provided.” There have been a shedload of logical arguments for the existence of G-d, made by no less that Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Newton and Einstein (and that’s not including any Jewish sources…). But feel free to disagree.
      “I will be excited to hear about it.” No you won’t, for the same reasons as you choose to ignore the arguments that have been made up until now.
      And just by the way, they weren’t goat-herders – they were shepherds.

      • Yankel October 21, 2010, 5:32 AM

        Beautiful!

        • Dovybear October 21, 2010, 1:00 PM

          Thankerverrrmuch. U-huh. Elvis has left the building… (and is hiding with the Yeti, Osama Bin Laden, the Rebbe, a unicorn named Bob and three small pieces of chocolate [one of whom is claustrophobic] in the Big Brother House).

      • Cents October 22, 2010, 10:32 PM

        Dovybear
        Time to wade through your response.
        The word agnostic means a lack of knowledge(a-gnostic gnostic being knowledge). Simple that is not the position I am taking because then you would have to be agnostic about every single fantasy creature (fairies, centaurs, phoenixes, you name it) ever postulated so it is a non-started. You can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist both positions are distinct beliefs that individuals can have. I think somewhere that I have already quoted that 95 to 99.85% of scientist believe the clear evidence for evolution based on 150 years of attempts to disprove it. I did not say 95 to 99.85% of Dawkins fans.
        You certainly are brainwashed if you believe your specific religion is teh true religion of the world or you are a gambling man. There are 4,200 different religions in the world. You could be right but the chances are 1/4200. Not very good odds. There is something in science called parsimony also known as Occam’s Razor that states that the simplest answer in a group of possible answers is favoured. Given 4,200 religions http://www.theologicalstudies.org/classicalreligionlist.html
        I think that f you will see that the default answer that none are true is the most reaonable (assuming you have no vestedinterests in your own personal religion). If you look back my reference to Galileo is related to how religion has and continues to stifle science based out outdated views of the world (in particular stem cell research).
        I’m sorry mate your knowledge of the scientific process is rather limited. Yes Darwin didn’t know about genetics. It did not undermine natural selection, it provided the basis for the mechanism of natural selection to work. The slight variations of the exact mechanism driving natural selection are simply the fine tuning of the fully accepted mechanism driving evolution. Here is a link to the multitude of books written over 150 in support of evolution by natural selection. http://darwiniana.org/books.htm
        What do you propose as an alternative? I know “god did it” and he did it in 6 days 6,000 years ago. Even you cannot be an absolutely ridiculous creationist.
        You stated “As for your assertion that 40% of the American public believe in the Bible because they are brainwashed”. I absolutely never said that. I said 40% of Americans don’t believe in evolution by natural selection. They believe in the 6 day fantasy in the bible!
        I assume by your challenge so do you, unless you have another suggestion you would like to offer.
        Regarding the 2000 or so year book called the bible. There are so many incorrect views of the world in the bible as it was before the scientific method was developed that allowed us to understand our world. http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/science/ot_list.html
        Where you see truth I see that is was the best they could come up with at the time.
        As for Bertrand Russell he was quoted as saying “He was also famously noted for saying “No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God.”
        Philosophical arguments regarding god are interesting exercises but they don’t provide evidence of an existence of even a deistic supreme being (which has at least some possibility of existing). As for as theistic deism, well I willing to let the 4,200 religions fight that one out. I just they wouldn’t do it on my planet.

        • Dovybear October 24, 2010, 9:45 AM

          Whilst wading through my response you seem to have got lost in the murky waters of your own irrationality. You absolutely fail to address any point I made, but simply repeat the same poor excuse for logic that you saw in Richard Dawkins. First, let me be slightly pedantic and point out that the word gnostic does not mean “knowledge”, but “of knowledge”, the word for knowledge is “gnosis”, but be that as it may. Disbelief in fairies, unicorns or mermaids is not from lack of evidence, but from knowledge that would preclude their existence – mermaids are biologically impossible. The reason we do not believe in them is that, being physical creatures, they should be subject to physical laws and, as such, when they fail to do so, we claim their non-existence. God would be completely different, not being a physical being. You, my friend are an atheist without a cause – if it was simply lack of evidence you would, if you were being true to yourself, say “I don’t know, could be, could not be” because the lack of evidence works both ways – there is no evidence that God does not exist either (which would be just as much of an extraordinary claim – see Descartes, Discourse on Method part 3; Meditations 3,4&5; Principles of Philosophy part 1).
          Your blind assertion that 95-99.5% of scientists have evidence is simply wrong – they might believe, true, but with no evidence. They have theories, they have hypotheses, they have no evidence. After all, what evidence (short of an absolutely complete fossil record [as Darwin himself says], and this does not exist, nor do most paleontologists hold much hope for finding one) could there be? Much like the common complaint that God is an untestable theorem (as no-one was there, the method is not repeatable in a laboratory, and it makes no testable predictions), so too is evolution (ditto).
          And as for your blind assertion that my scientific knowledge is not up to date; how ridiculous is that? You don’t know me from Adam, you have no idea what I do and do not know in the way of scientific development. And this coming from a person who cannot spell and whose grasp of English grammar is so poor that my 8 year-old sister would laugh at it.
          You glibly assert that 150 years of scientific evidence is behind evolution, yet nobody even knows what the mechanism is. How could 150 years of evidence be behind it if the basic theory changes so often? This is no fine-tuning, this is full-on overhauling and refitting – Richard Dawkins is one of the few people alive who is still a classical Darwinian, most theories of evolution now are so radically different that all that binds them is the idea that things change (hardly a radical idea anyway – even the Tosafists of 12th Century France wrote “nature changes” – “nishtaneh hateva” – microevolution is not debated by anyone and to use it to argue for atheism is absurd [not that I’m claiming you are]).
          Now, about the number of religions. Please read my argument again, and do it carefully this time. Probability that one religion is true over the others has nothing to do with the existence of God. Here in England, the chances of winning the lottery are 13,000,000 to 1. Does this mean that the lottery does not exist, just because when you buy a ticket you are unlikely to win? Occams razor does NOT say that the simplest answer is most likely to be true, it says “plurality should not be posited without necessity”, meaning that if you can ascribe a phenomena to one cause or to multiple causes, then ascribe it to one cause. It has no relevance to your argument at all. Even still, to simply say that no religion is true because it’s simpler that way is irrational in its own right, a) because its not simpler and b) because it makes no logical claim except laziness.
          As for Galileo, I think you fail to see past your Dawkins-tinted glasses here. If the scientific method was created by a man (Descartes) whose motive was his belief in God, if Galileo not only saw no contradiction between religion and science but was driven by his desire to “know the mind of God”, if Newton wrote in his diaries that the only reason that he did what he did was his religious nature, if Einstein said that his motivation was “that deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a Superior Reasoning Power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe “, how then did religion “stifle science”? It seems to me that religion created science.
          “What do you propose as an alternative? I know “god did it” and he did it in 6 days 6,000 years ago. Even you cannot be an absolutely ridiculous creationist.”
          And there it is – God is ridiculous, therefore we have proved his non-existence. How dumb. And by the way, the Talmud says repeatedly that the creation story is not a literal account (there are several Midrashim about the age of the universe, most saying somewhere in the region of 15 billion years [and they wrote that 1800 years ago…]), the 6,000 year count is from Adam (and there are plenty of methods of calculating the 6 days as well, plus a few mentions that Adam was not the first hominid, merely the first human). But of course, not knowing anything about the subject that you are talking about hardly seems to have held you back in the past, has it.
          On to your next point – quoting people with biases is hardly going to sway anyone – all you do by that is prove that other people have the same biases as you do, hardly conclusive proof is it?
          Moving on to Bertrand Russell. I never, ever claimed that he was a believer, in fact my point was that despite the fact that he was an atheist, he was honest enough to admit that it had no scientific basis.
          As for your last point, well, quite simply, it’s the biggest load of utter bilge that I’ve read since the last Dan Brown novel. What you essentially say is that nothing, not logic nor common sense, not mathematical proof nor intellectual reasoning can be called evidence. No, the only evidence is that which scientists have called so, because as we all know, they and only they are the arbiters of truth, of right and wrong, in this world or the next. Even then, do you accept quantum theory? Well, to quote Eintsein again; “we have no evidence for quantum theory at all, except that it works.” What about Pythagoras’ Theorem? What scientific evidence is there for that? Philosophy makes logical arguments, but, apparently, this is not enough. Proof need not be evidential, and often, evidence proves nothing (ask a lawyer if you must…).
          If you wish to not believe, that is your choice, not mine, and I will not argue against your right to disbelief. But do not try to tell me that I am somehow an inferior scientist or reasoner simply because I do believe.

    • John October 20, 2010, 12:11 PM

      You are a beautiful example of why atheists are full of it. You criticise Religous people for following what the Torah or their religion says blindly, and without logic. Yet you do the same just not with the torah, you do it with your god – Dawkins. You repeat an obviously absurd claim (which i suppose he only said as rhetoric) as a fact. “The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust” To think a fossil record is as good as firsthand reports, is so mind numbingly blind. And yet you accept it why? becasue Dawkins says so.

      • Anonymous October 20, 2010, 8:13 PM

        That’s bullshit bro. The entirety of modern biological research is completely backed up by evolution because evolution literally explains fucking everything probably scantly if at all without exception when it comes to the origin of species. Whereas your God explains absolutely nothing since there is no evidence for His existence or in His imminence in bringing the Torah because it explains almost nothing with evidence. We have no access to the Torah generation. We are going based on super indirect hearsay evidence from a time when everyone believed in crazy shit. I can’t believe you would compare belief in God to belief in evolution. Actually I can believe it because you have nothing left to hide behind.

        • Yankel October 21, 2010, 5:47 AM

          Evolution explains everything if you insist creation didn’t happen. Creation itself is a perfectly valid explanation. Not in any way logically deficient, just foreign to the unaffiliated mind.

          You say there is no evidence for G-d.
          We need to clarify your definition of “evidence”.
          Do you want G-d to reveal himself to every individual in a physical form? He’s not physical, so think of something else.

          Let’s begin with a simple example.
          Can you provide evidence to me that you existed yesterday?
          You’ll probably say “I’m here today, so where else did I come from?” – And I’d believe you even if you could not show me “yesterday” with you there existing.

          So apply that logic to all of existence.
          Physical and infinite are mutually exclusive.
          ie: Our physical universe did not exist at one point.

          I’ll let you take it from here if you dare.

          • Anonymous October 21, 2010, 12:57 PM

            I can buy all the incorporeal stuff but as Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim, we know God through His actions. God does things in the Tanach and some stimuli responds to the interaction. The problem with all theories of revelation is that they are not repeatable. You see with evolution, you have the ability to observe the evidence yourself. You could choose to take my word or Dawkins word for it but you don’t have to! That’s the beauty of science. If you have a working brain, you can theoretically make every single scientific discovery ever known completely on your own. Whereas with revelations, we are just taking people’s words for it.

            And no Kuzari bullshit please. It is very easy to make up a mass revelation. I’ll close by paraphrasing David Hume who in a discussion about whether or not Mary was the mother of God said, what is more likely, that a virgin immaculately conceived or a Jewish minx was covering her tracks.

            • Dovybear October 21, 2010, 1:40 PM

              “theories of revelation . . . are not repeatable”. First, isn’t that the point of the argument? Second, what do you mean by not repeatable, that no-one could do it again? Well that’s the point, no-body can but Something did. Or that it has not been repeated? A thousand single-person revelation narratives have appeared over the centuries – is this not repetition of the revelation theme?
              “It is very easy to make up a mass revelation.” How? Don’t just say it’s easy, show me how you would do it. And if you can, go ahead and do it. Why don’t you do it if you can?
              And the simple difference between the virgin birth (NOT the same thing as the immaculate conception, just by the way – all Christians [nowadays at least] believe in the virgin birth but only Catholics believe in immaculate conception) and Sinai is that the virgin birth is a single-person event, Sinai (however you might conceive of it) would not have been (assuming it happened).

              • Guest October 21, 2010, 3:40 PM

                “Kuzari bullshit”–nice. Yehuda Halevi apparently was an idiot in your eyes, but Hume is to be venerated. You’re only a little biased.

            • Yankel October 21, 2010, 3:10 PM

              “I’ll close by paraphrasing David Hume who in a discussion about whether or not Mary was the mother of God said, what is more likely, that a virgin immaculately conceived or a Jewish minx was covering her tracks.”

              I generally don’t like saying things like this, but your premises are ridiculous.

              As far as David Hume goes, you must not have realized that your quoting him actually contradicts your own argument.

              Absolutely nothing in Christianty had anything to do with mass revelation. There was a guy here who “testified” this, and a guy there who “testified” that, and they gathered more adherents and gradually formed a religion.

              It was specifically “revelations” like this (which probably numbered in the thousands throughout history) that show what the revelation at Sinai was all about.
              Anon here tries to bring a proof against Sinai from Mary, by saying “Look how many people believe it today, and yet anyone can see how easily a ‘wonder’ like this can be fabricated.”

              The point is that Sinai was an event that COULD NOT HAVE BEEN FABRICATED.

              Has anyone ever come up with an even remotely logical explanation as to how anyone would believe a story like this without asking ” If it was before 3 million, why doesn’t anyone know about it”?
              No. They just make lame statements like “Anyone can produce a mass revelation” without backing it up.

      • Cents October 20, 2010, 9:17 PM

        John I provided a quote that from his book because it gives you how completely accepted the fact of evolution is in the rational world. Point out to me how off the wall Dawkins is by provided reputable biologists who disagree with evolution.
        You may not like it but the world has passed judgement based on 150 years of evidence (has modified some minor details as new information and understanding has occurred) and has moved on (all except for the religious fundamentalists who believe the world is only 6,000 years old.)

        • John October 20, 2010, 9:59 PM

          even if that were true, you can certainly appreciate (I hope) how all that evidence pales in comparison to eyewitnesses. Oh and the world has most definitely not moved on , religious fundamentalists arent dismissed as a bunch of quacks like holocaust deniers are. Look at yourself, would you spend this much time arguing with a holocaust denier?
          It is clear that any evidence of evolution doesnt come close to holocaust evidence yet you assert that ” evolution being as true as the holocaust” why because your god Dawkins told you so.

          Your mantra should be:
          “There is no god, and Richard Dawkins is his prophet”

          • Cents October 22, 2010, 10:48 PM

            The comment Dawkins provided was so that the average person who when reading his book could understand how absolutely convinced respected scientist are in the process of evolution. From a scientists perspective the evidence is absolutely overwhelming. People have been trying to disprove evolution over the last 150 years. It has been modified as new information comes along but these are minor changes that does not change the understanding of evolution. Here is the tree of life drawn in a circle
            http://www.zo.utexas.edu/faculty/antisense/tree.pdf
            Every bit of evidence has supported evloution. Why keep fighting it. It is irrational. Even the Catholic church accepts evolution, its teheistic evolution of course but it is evolution http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution

            • John October 24, 2010, 9:59 AM

              who cares what the reason for his quote is, it is stupid nonsensical quote. Do you think the evidence for evolution, as strong as you believe it is, is equal to eyewitness reports?

  • Lord G October 20, 2010, 8:05 AM
  • FrumGer October 20, 2010, 10:09 AM

    Again cents, you are not paying attention.

    I am not arguing biblical theology. I am not saying that the creative force the omega point the starter of all this is in fact a “sky daddy” or that that creative force is bolevelant caring knowing or anything that relgion says it is. I am not arguing that at all. your missing it. actually this whole time (read my other comments earleir in this post.) I have been aguing only that you cannot prove that there is no creator. I Believe what I believe about G-d because i choose to. It is a positive thing in my life. I believe in G-d at all because of a multitude of empirical evidence.

    See my Torah can be wrong and G-d can still exist. Evolution can be right and G-d can still exist. because evolution does not prove there is no G-d.
    Facts on why there is a creator of this universe.
    1. as i stated above, Thermodynamics states that there is no absolute zero. energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be trasfered. likewise matter cannot be created or destroyed. you cannot start with nothing and wind up with something. even the big bang of a marble sized super nove exploding had to have something create that super nova. so a creative force outside of our universe not privy to our universe’s laws had to create this universe. that creative force is what we all interpret as G-d.
    2. the fact that we have such powerful telescope and we have yet found anything that could be considered actual life makes us a very very unique planet in this huge universe. so unique given the vast amounts of planets out there that we have discovered, the odds of us being here are so small it points to intelligent design, ( i said intelligent design not perfect design i know there are many flaws in us)

    3.the complexities of the single cell compared to what darwin knew it as are so much more vast that in order for life to come from no life it would be like me jumping the grand canyon with no feet.

    I am not saying or trying to prove that G-d is a good patient loving man up in heaven. i am only stating that I believe there is enough evidence in this world to point their being a creative force that obviously hold enough intelligence to create the universe. I dont believe that its all mere coincidence and basic anomaly.

    BTW evolution – (which on some levels I dont have a problem with (mineral, vegetable, animal, human in the sequence that the Torah holds as well) but it most defiantly not a fact. it is a widely accepted theory. it is still not a scientific law the last time I checked and there are just as many flaws in it as there are solid points.

    • Cents October 20, 2010, 10:12 PM

      Hard to know where to begin. Obviously you have a lot to learn about the world. You stated “I Believe what I believe about G-d because i choose to. It is a positive thing in my life. I believe in G-d at all because of a multitude of empirical evidence.”
      You believe in god because you choose to is certainly true, and it certainly may be a positive thing in your life but you have not presented any Empirical evidence for god as far as I am concerned.
      Re your first point, although I haven’t read his book Stephen Hawking in his book “The Grand Design” when asked about the most important thing that people can take from his book by Larry King.

      KING In your opinion, it’s a great book with a lot of important points. What is the most important point in the book?

      HAWKING: That science can explain the universe, and that we don’t need God to explain why there is something rather than nothing or why the laws of nature are what they are.

      So you stating your views on matter and energy and your understanding that this requires a god is not convincing as I think Mr. Hawking has more insight on physics of the World than you do.
      Your point 2 is even worse than your point 1. Maybe you need to follow what is going on more closely in astronomy these days there there is quite a bit of interest in the possibilty of life in our solar sytem never mind anywhere else. Also there has been still to be confirmed findings of a planet called Gliese 581g in the goldilocks zone around 20 light years away. This like every endeavour in science is a work in progress. To come to the conclusion that this requires a creator makes me shake my head. (See Hawking comment above).
      The source of life as has been stated by G*3 is not evolution it is abiogenisis.You can read all about it here.

      Your views on evolution are on par with many ignorant American’s but not with people who are trained to look at evidence (scientists) They accept evolution in teh range of 95% to 99.85%. See http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_proof.htm

      No one can change your mind but you. Stop saying you believe in your Torah / Bible and start looking at the evidence if you really want to make an informed decision rather than following blindly along. Fortunately the world is changing. It is not a large step to go from Atheism to Secular Humanism which will provide the tenets to live a good life.

      • Dovybear October 21, 2010, 4:50 AM

        Considering that you can’t spell and have no idea about such basic grammar as apostrophe usage, I fail to see how you can lambast people for being ignorant Americans (note lack of apostrophe…). Again, you fail to answer any of the critiques (you may want to look that one up in a dictionary) that were addressed to you. Again, why does the fact that someone’s blanket statement (without any evidence) that G-d does not exist and evolution is fact make those claims automatically true? You disparage religious people for their appeal to authority, yet have no qualms about doing it yourself as long as they confirm your pre-conclusions.
        And as for life on other planets, the only thing they may possibly have found is a planet which may possibly have the capability to have life (a compound chance, if you know about statistics at all), not that they have discovered aliens hanging around with laser guns. Even if they had, that would prove nothing as regards G-d – He’d simply have created them too, in fact it would make atheism even more statistically improbable (life occurring by itself once is so unlikely [even Dawkins agrees here: “the essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale”], to have that twice independently is statistically absurd to the point of impossibility). This also ignores the fact the the Bible itself may very well refer to aliens (Judges – “Cursed is Meroz and its inhabitants” – Meroz is elsewhere identified as a planet), and the Talmud (Sanhedrin) describes interplanetary travel in the Messianic Era where people will visit inhabited planets. That people think aliens disprove G-d makes me shake my head.
        Even if abiogenesis is the source of life (and primordial soup hasn’t been scientific theory for close on 20 years after the Miller-Urey experiment was debunked and Miller and Urey themselves admitted that it was incorrect), there is still no good explanation for how or why it should work. And it still doesn’t disprove G-d anyway because, as I’m sure I pointed out last time, “whether we like it or not, science simply cannot adjudicate on the matter of G-d” – the words of the atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell.
        “But not with people who look at the evidence (scientists)”. Really? See above.
        “Stop saying you believe in your Torah / Bible and start looking at the evidence if you really want to make an informed decision rather than following blindly along. Fortunately the world is changing. It is not a large step to go from Atheism to Secular Humanism which will provide the tenets to live a good life.” Read that back to yourself out lout – don’t you think you sound like an Evangelist? Despite the fact that every single line there shows a complete lack of impartiality and failure to look at evidence critically, I will try to explain where you are wrong here in the hope that this time, perhaps, you may get it. 1. Why automatically assume that evidence precludes looking at the Bible? Surely, if you are in fact searching for truth and investigating honestly, you should consider all sources of knowledge whether or not you think you agree with them – ruling out the Bible means that you automatically consider it untrue before you investigate as to its veracity, sheer foolishness. 2. Who’s blindly following along? You admit that FrumGer, like I myself, made a choice as to whether or not I believe, how can we be blindly following? You on the other hand seem to just take all the words that Richard Dawkins says as Gospel Truth, so who’s blindly following? 3. “The world is changing.” So the religious revivals across the world don’t count, because everyone must be becoming atheist – Dawkins said so. 4. “It is not a large step from atheism to secular humanism” (note how I deliberately de-capitalized). Yes it is; for sure secular humanism requires that you are atheist, but the other way around simply isn’t true – it is a false syllogism of the all salmon are fish therefore all fish are salmon variety. 5. “Which will provide the tenets to live a good life.” Distinct overtones of religious dogma there I think…

      • FrumGer October 21, 2010, 12:23 PM

        Cents,

        you truly answered not one of my propositions.. not one.
        I saw that Hawkings clip and I’ll tell you that one little statement doesn’t answer anything either. Scientist do not want to believe in G-d. They ignore and automatically discredit anything that even comes close to the idea of a creator. They don’t study anything on this subject objectively. In my opinion that is just as biased and faith based as any religion.

        Hawkins basically said in that little clip- I don’t really have a damn clue but I know its not G-d.
        what kind of argument is that?

        They come up with all these dog and pony show ideas and theories, missing the simplest best fitting possibility. but I have found that the simplest answer is usually the right one.
        this universe’s laws do not allow for creation in any shape or form. you cannot create something out of nothing. i feel like i have said that like a million times. no matter what smoke and mirrors all of you atheist salesmen try to use, there is still nothing that explains omega point given the laws we no of. as intelligent as we (mankind) are, we still can not start with no matter and come out with matter. let alone life out of no matter.
        0 x 10000000 is still zero.
        And your telling me it happened by random chance?
        Feh.

        Just because Europa might possibly have basic life under tons of ice that no one has been near to properly inspect does not mean there is no G-d. Other than all the propositions like this, there is still officially no life in the universe outside of this planet. I only said that to show you the how incredibly unique our position is in the universe. The odds are non computable.

        But I have always taken a stance that if it were to be found that marvin the martians are indeed up there, it would not disprove anything.

        bottom line nowadays it is posh in the scientific community to be athiest. Those that do believe in G-d are ostricized, and written off just like you have on this blog as generally inferior ignorant mystical baffoons.

        So due to mass indoctrination by professors while in college today’s scientists are athiests by default, when they go to school many still have an objective mind, buy by time they get their masters or phd, they are so peer pressured there is no way most could keep unbiased independant thinking on this subject.. Most people are far to insecure to be that independent.

        You have answered nothing, you have not given one real reason on why you don’t believe in G-d or at least in an intelligent Creator. all you have said is “well Dawkins said this” or” “Hawkings said that”

        my question are what are your opinions and findings?

        The big lie is that just because someone is a PHD that makes him a superior or smarter person than you automatically. Not the case. the laws of this universe are written in English and are fairly easy to understand given a little study. I don’t personally care how brilliant Hawkings is in so many subjects he actually can be missing it totally. Einstien understood physics very well too And he was not an atheist. so who is right.?

        Man- no matter how smart- can miss minor and easy concepts. so be careful in your idolatry of mans words and ideas.

  • Catholic Mom October 20, 2010, 10:55 AM

    Cents said:

    >>Man created god and gods to explain the unknowns of life in prehistoric times (lightning, thunder, earthquakes, etcetera) and we have not up to now been able to get rid of them.

    Most of the OT and all of the NT has nothing to do with explaining where thunder and lightning come from. Sticking to what I know, the NT basically addresses this question: “Why is the world full of evil and suffering and what should our response to this be? ” If you find the answer in a scientific textbook, please let me know.

    If, say, your son or daughter is killed in a car accident or gets cancer I’m sure you will have no problem grasping how the random forces of the universe occasionally result in the pre-mature death of children and, after all, sh%^ happens. I mean, once you fully understand WHY steel impacting somebody’s body at 60 miles an hour or a rogue cell that refuses to stop reproducing causes death, you’ll know exactly why your kid is dead and clearly that’s all there is to say about it. A guy like you who knows all about thunder and lightning is not going to have any problem accepting basic physics, right?

    BTW, while I certainly don’t deny that atheists can be moral, one might ask WHY they are moral. Lets say you happen to have the bad luck to be in a concentration camp. All around you people are starving and dying. They’re going to starve and die anyway. Why not then steal whatever food you can get your hands on and try to preserve, at least, YOUR life? I mean, morals are nice, but once you’re dead the whole thing is over anyway, so your first principle has to be to stay alive. I’m thinking now of Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who volunteered to die in place of a stranger at Auschwitz. How could such an action remotely make sense in an atheist universe? He not only did not place his life before others (that is, he didn’t just not steal food, he actually placed the life of a stranger before his. And not in a probabilistic way like a fireman going into a burning house to save someone, but in an absolute way : “Here, take me. I’ll die instead”. Perhaps he was thinking of the prayer of the founder of his order, St. Francis, that ends “for it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Or the words of Jesus Christ: “Greater love than this has no man, that he lay down his life for another.” You know — in that book that ignorant people read to figure out where thunder and lightning come from.

    You go on to say:

    >>Now we not only don’t need religion anymore, but religion has become harmful. All religions are destructive as they create religious divisions between all the people on the planet.

    Cents — all IDEAS create “idea divisions” between all people on the planet. Of course YOU have a set of ideas which everyone on the planet should adopt so that universal peace will break out once all people now believe and accept the universal “Cents” ideas.

    No doubt you feel that not only should everyone give up their annoyingly divisive religious ideas, but their annoyingly divisive political ideas as well. Yes, that’s it. Cents will write a book telling everyone what they should believe about everything, then there will be no more divisions and inconvenient differences of opinion because “all people of the planet” will adhere to the Book of Cents. The lion will lie down with the lamb. Oh wait…where did that idea come from? 🙂

    • Dovybear October 20, 2010, 6:31 PM

      Of course people will disagree with The Book of Cents, making it dangerously divisive… ;-p

      • Catholic Mom October 20, 2010, 8:11 PM

        They will, unfortunately, have to be disposed of for their own good and that of the planet. Sometimes you have to destroy the village to save it. 🙂

        • Dovybear October 21, 2010, 4:51 AM

          Wow, Machiavelli – Hesh msut be chuffed that he has such well-read commentators.

    • John October 20, 2010, 9:20 PM

      Very well written Catholic Mom, nailed it

    • Tomas Anderson October 20, 2010, 10:33 PM

      You need to accept that pain, suffering and death are simply part of the natural life cycle. Nothing more and nothing less. There is no reason to fear death. And there is no reason to run from it as if you can escape it

      • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 2:53 PM

        Excellent Tomas. And as I said, as they are lowering the body of your child into the grave, instead of a priest saying “…in sure and certain hope of the resurrection unto eternal life..” there will be some Unitarian saying “you need to accept that pain and suffering and death are simply part of the natural life cycle. Nothing more and nothing less.” A verbose way of saying “sh&% happens.” I’m sure that will be very meaningful to you.

        Oh wait…nothing is very meaningful to you because nothing actually means anything.

        • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 3:29 PM

          This argument has nothing to do with God’s existence. You could believe God does not exist and think it is a good idea for people to believe in him so that they can have meaning in stressful situations. How do you intend to prove the truth of God’s existence by hypothesizing about how I’d feel being given different sermons?

          As far as ethics, I do see that some religious people manage to be moral, but I’m also not sure why. They believe that God wrote a book advocating genocide and child-sacrifice.

          • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 3:40 PM

            I wasn’t arguing for God’s existence. I was arguing against the totally puerile and ignorant assertion that religion exists to explain thunder and lightning and now that we know where thunder and lighting comes from we should dispense with it. There speaks someone who couldn’t be bothered to finish reading the Wikipedia article on Histor of Religion.

            >>As far as ethics, I do see that some religious people manage to be moral, but I’m also not sure why. They believe that God wrote a book advocating genocide and child-sacrifice.

            No, YOU believe that God wrote a book advocating genocide and child-sacrifice. That presumably would be why you’re not religious.

          • michal October 21, 2010, 4:48 PM

            child sacrifice? what book are you reading? If you are reffering to Abraham, I think you put the book down to early, read on there’s a happy ending.
            (you are wrong about genocide too, but i see how you made that mistake)

            • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 8:28 PM

              Michal,

              The new anti-Christian mantra is that the concept of the atoning death of Jesus Christ is absurd because it represents divine child abuse/sacrifice. Suffice it to say that the logic and thought that go into this theory represent about the same level of understanding of theology and history that some of the previous comments do, but it’s always good to have a few sound bites at your commend that you can pipe in with in place of actual thought.

            • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 9:01 PM

              God’s last minute intervention is not the point of the story, according to, well, every single sermon I’ve heard on the topic. According to them (and my machzor, I should add) the point is the willingness when God says “boo” to gather up your son and take him up to a mountain to slit his throat.

              • michal October 21, 2010, 9:25 PM

                Wow no wonder youre puzzled, to think after all these sermons youve heard, youve still got it wrong.
                child sacrifice isnt advocated, it was a test to test Abraham’s faith (do you really not know this) , god never “wanted” Issac to be sacrifised, it was just a test.

                • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:31 PM

                  Of course I know that “it was a test to test Abraham’s faith.” By your reading, what did he have to do in order to pass the test? Would he have failed the test if he replied “child sacrifice is wrong”? So, we have here a test that can only be passed by demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice your son, but somehow this has nothing to do with sacrificing your son. What the story illustrates is the demand that you be willing to kill your son on command, if you wish to live up to Abraham’s ideals.

                  • Michal October 26, 2010, 5:17 PM

                    he had to show willingness to sacrifice his son at god’s command. and he passed with flying colors. god not only doesnt advocate child-sacrifice it is explicitly forbidden. See verses regarding molech

                    • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 6:28 PM

                      So, look again at your first line here. The requirement is, once again, willingness to sacrifice his son at god’s command. There ya go.

                    • Michal October 26, 2010, 6:50 PM

                      ok im confused, what are you talking about YOU wrote “They believe that God wrote a book advocating genocide and child-sacrifice” to which i asked where does god advocate child sacrifice? I have no idea what else you are saying

                    • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 9:00 PM

                      Would you be happier if instead I said “They believe that God wrote a book advocating genocide and willingness to sacrifice your child when called on to do so”?

                    • Michal October 26, 2010, 9:58 PM

                      I dont know about happier, but it would be less ridiculous. so glad i could help.

        • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 3:36 PM

          BTW, was the Holocaust “part of the natural life cycle?” So, when you heard that door slam and lock behind you and the gas starting to seep in, would you turn to the guy next to you and say “Wow, the universe can really be a b*&#$ sometimes, huh? Oh..sorry about the anthropomorphism. I know that the universe is nothing more than a collection of positively and negatively charged particles interacting randomly. And after all, pain and suffering and death are simply part of the natural life cycle.”

          Well, we’ll never know what you would actually say or think in those circumstances. But perhaps you could share that profound observation now with someone whose parents died in the Holocaust and how it is received.

          • Tomas Anderson October 21, 2010, 4:08 PM

            CM,

            I’d probably be scared out of my mind. But there are people who would be able to accept dreadful circumstances with grace and dignity. Hopefully, I would be such a person and hopefully you would be too. Live is more enjoyable when you don’t cling to it as if it’s permanent. Just realize that it can end at any moment and that we are in the process of dying as we speak.

            • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 8:11 PM

              The problem with the Holocaust is not that people died a natural death which must be accepted with grace and dignity because you can’t cling to life as if it’s permanent. The problem is that it involved unspeakable evil and in your atheist worldview there is simply no category of “evil.” Or good, for that matter. The universe is random. Sometimes it brings boundless joy and sometimes it brings Nazis. What you get is pretty much a flip of the coin. The coin comes up heads, you celebrate. It comes up tails, you’re screwed.

              You may decide what is evil or good based on your own personal philosophy, but it’s no more valid than the Nazi’s philsophy. You think people should be nice to other people. The Nazis think people should kill other people. Both opinions are equally valid in a random universe.

              • Tomas Anderson October 21, 2010, 11:10 PM

                what you have with my philosophy (Taoism) is no good or evil, but you have a complete reality which is beautiful and mysterious. Why do you want Good and Evil so badly?

              • Cents October 22, 2010, 2:44 AM

                I have just skimmed your responses and obviously you have a lot of hurt inside of you. What happened in the holocaust was a terrible thing.
                Unfortunately yes life is full of chance. The forces of natural selection and evolution are a constant part of human existence. It could have been any one of us in those camps, but through sheer blind luck we weren’t born at that time or place but in this time and place. How any of what you said demonstrates never mind proves there is a god is beyond me. Wanting to believe in a god is something I can understand but that of course does not make god’s existance a fact.
                I don’t need to spend my time reading old religious texts whoes basic tenet is there is a god without a single shred of evidence. (Have you read all these http://www.cftech.com/BrainBank/OTHERREFERENCE/RELIGION/HolyBooks.html)
                The world of chance is real but that doesn’t mean anything goes morally. Given that each religions view of morality comes from THEIR holy book all religious views of morality are different. This can easily leading to the belief that one persons view is as moral as another. This is called relative morality and is obviously a big problem if we at some point in the future want to become a global civilization.
                The process of using science is being discussed as a possible way to deal with this issue. See the book by Sam Harris a doctor of neuroscience: http://www.samharris.org/ The Moral Landscape: How science can determine human values (see reviews on Amazon)
                Whether this will be fruitful or not who knows but we need to find a way to move forward on this, but at least we are not stuck with unsuitable morality contained in 1000 to 2000 year old books. Your old testament holy book is full of genocide and, and other vile acts by today’s moral standards (stoned anyone lately for working on the sabbath?) To get any morals from the old testament you constantly have to overlook all the evil that is contained in the old testament. See http://www.rationalchristianity.net/genocide.html and http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_cana.htm
                Who knows maybe Hitler views on genocide came from the old testament as it certainly contained enough examples.

                • Catholic Mom October 22, 2010, 9:24 AM

                  Cents,

                  In a random world there IS no objective good or evil no matter that someone writes an article that someday neuroscience may provided a basis for morality. In fact, strictly speaking, the only “good or evil” that can be derived from nature is the good of survival and passing on ones genes and the evil of failing to do so.

                  I actually have a graduate degree in sociobiology — yes, you can be a scientist, even an evolutionary biologist AND a Catholic too! 🙂 One might mention Father Teilhard de Chardin. So I’m perfectly familiar — probably more than you — with the evolution of altruism through kin selection and certainly the concept of quid-pro-quo altruism. But essentially what that means is “I refrain from killing you because ultimately in the long-term it’s in my genetic best interests to do so.”

                  Christianity is counter-evolutionary. It says “do good to those that harm you.” “He who would be the head of all must be the servant of all.” “The last shall first and the first shall be last.” You are never going to derive this from neuroscience. And it is impossible to account for its exisence through evolutuionary theory.

                  I’m sorry you think that “1,000 to 2,000 year old books” (actually that should be 2,000 to 3,000 year old but we already know that you’re no biblical scholar, certainly most of your knowledge of religion seems to have come from a pamphlet you read once) contain “unsuitable morality” for your advanced way of thinking. Believing that only you and your generation know anything is a common disorder.

                  • Cents October 22, 2010, 4:40 PM

                    Your educational background has no relevance in a discussion on god and religion. The only thing that matters are facts and what can be proven to be true. You have not provided any evidence for god.
                    “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”
                    We are all born as atheists. Only through religious indoctrination does anyone believe in gods. Those of us who have chosen to become atheists once again (Atheism defined by the absence of belief that deities exist) have done so by examing the evidence for god(s). We have not been brainwashed by others into becoming atheists. We have looked at the evidence for god(s) and found it lacking. As all religions are predicated on a god or god(s) without evidence of god(s) all religions are built on a house of cards. The next time you challenge someone’s views because they have not being immersed in your holy book, ask whether you need to read up on fairies at the bottom of the garden before you can dismiss them without a second thought. Then again you may want to be convinced about that , here is a place to start http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy

                    • Catholic Mom October 24, 2010, 4:26 PM

                      I have no interest in convincing you that God exists, much less to believe in my “holy book.” You’re arguing past me. I mentioned evolutionary biology only to point out that you can be religious and an evolutionary biologist. Certainly not to convince you the biology points to God. Quite the opposite.

                      I simply said that without God (or, to put it another way, with only science as a guide) the only objective good and evil that exists in the universe is the good and evil of biology — the good of maximizing your genes in future generation and the evil of failing to do so or, yet worse, helping someone unrelated to you maximize their genetic representation at your own expense. From this perspective, the worst thing you could do, assuming you were a German, would be to hide a Jew from the Nazis at peril of your own life. Yet people did this. Not, presumably, because they were evolutionary biologist.

        • Tomas Anderson October 21, 2010, 4:14 PM

          Death and birth are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. When we die our energy just gets changed into another form and we are reborn as a tree or a flower. It’s a beautiful idea, I think

          I’m not sure eternal life as a the same person would be a blessing.Iit would get rather boring after a while don’t you think?

          • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 8:35 PM

            Christianity (and Judaism for that matter) does not teach that eternal life consists of being the same person you are today only forever. In Catholic teaching, the soul is immortal. It derives from God and returns to God. In atheist teaching it is the momentary illusion of consciousness caused by particular synaptic pathways being stimulated by certain neurochemicals. Break down a few synaptic pathways, mess with a few chemicals and, poof, “you” (whatever that means) cease to exist (whatever that means.)

            • Cents October 24, 2010, 7:12 PM

              Catholic Mom
              Your previous comment to me seems to have ignored the postings I have made pointing to exploring the use of the sceintific method in determining a set of human moral values that lead to human flourishing (Sam Harris’ the Moral Landscape). Please stop referring to evolution, the mechanism of biological of life when discussing morality. We as a species can do positive things for our own well being by applying moral values Look at the tenets of Secular Humanism. Tell me what is wrong with the view that we can be good without god (except it conflicts with your faith), and that we can all work towards improving the lives of all humanity. I don’t believe human life is a zero sum game.
              On your view that it makes more sense to believe in an immortal soul without a single shred of evidence that such a construct exists rather than the empirically observable evidence that when you die you cease to exist amazes me.
              Our conciousness is clearly linked to our brains, when there is a change in our brain function (a stroke or whatever) our conciousness clearly changes. (After my mother had her stroke and there was a amazingly different person experiencing the world looking out of her body). Finally, when our brain dies we are dead. End of story. There is no empirical evidence for anything else. You may have a stack of holy or other books 10 feet high saying all sorts of things about souls, transubstantiation, and the trinity and talikng snakes, virigin births, rising from the dead and anything else, they carry no absolutely weight unless the can provide real world evidence to back up their claims.

  • Michal October 21, 2010, 4:54 PM

    Hi atheists, i have a question for you. Cents you are probably hiding after that beating you took from catholic mom, and skepticbut jewish you are busy repeating yourself in a non-sensical fashion to John, but if either of you or anybody else has a second could you please answer my question
    I’m wondering why you care so much, if silly people want to believe in sky-daddies or talking snakes or whatever colorful names youve come up with, why does it bug you so much Let them be, if it makes them happy and gives them comfort. Ok i get that some dabate is fun but to go on and on, you know youre not going to win. you know you are smarter and leave it at that. I Get why they want to argue, because they believe their god is the truth and you would be better of serving him (nice of them isnt it, arguing to help you?) Why do you guys care so much?
    Thanks

    • Dovybear October 21, 2010, 5:47 PM

      Do you really expect an honest answer to that question? I don’t want to call you naive, but seriously? An honest answer?

      • Michal October 21, 2010, 7:24 PM

        expect? No
        hope for one? Yes please

        • Catholic Mom October 21, 2010, 8:42 PM

          Because there’s no point in being smarter than everyone else if everyone else is too dumb to realize it.

    • Puzzled October 21, 2010, 9:03 PM

      Perhaps because of the number of people killed over this belief?

      • michal October 21, 2010, 9:27 PM

        killed over this belief, by people on this blog? Are you mad?
        Thank you catholic mom,that actually makes sense

        • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:37 PM

          Out of one million believers, perhaps one will be moved by his belief to kill others. That one is likely to convince several others to assist him. We don’t know in advance who those people are. That’s why we try to talk sense whenever the topic comes up.

          No, I highly doubt that many people on this blog, or any people on this blog, are murderers. I don’t see what that has to do with my answer. The question was why atheists care, in general, about people who believe. My answer is that we’re concerned that they will kill because of their beliefs.

          • Michal October 26, 2010, 5:19 PM

            nope, nice try you know full well that no one reading this would ever kill for religion, and if anyone would your “reasoning” wouldnt persuade them. The real reason is Catholic mom’s thanks for replying though

            • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 6:32 PM

              CM’s response is typical explanation we’d expect from people offering apologetics in the first place. Your judgment as to why atheists engage in arguments (in which you side with a theist over a somewhat-atheist, oddly enough) tells us more about you than about atheists. How exactly is it that CM has more insight into my reasons for posting here than I do, again?

              By the way, how do I know that? I know absolutely nothing about the large numbers of people who read this without posting, and only a tiny bit more about the people who do post. A couple of the latter have already stated their willingness to kill when so commanded.

              • Michal October 26, 2010, 6:53 PM

                Ive accepted her reason because it makes you look better, and makes more sense. Your reason (arguing to prevent people from killing) is so stupid I can only assume it was entred by some atheist computer. maybe there should be captchas before comments are accepted.
                see john’s comment above to skeptic for an explanation as to why your last statment is silly as well

                • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 9:06 PM

                  Yes, you caught me…I’m a bot.

                  You’re right that it would be silly to accuse theists of being ready to kill at the drop of a dime, despite the ample evidence in the holy books for such a claim. Yet that is exactly the kind of nonsense thrown at atheists routinely. Theists hold insane double-standards in debate whereby they are allowed to attack at will, whereas pointing to genocide in their books is off-limits.

                  Nonetheless, yes, I encourage believers to rethink their position precisely because I am concerned about the actions of fanatics.

                  I didn’t find the comment you refer to.

                  • Michal October 26, 2010, 10:07 PM

                    Nope you have the insane double standards when you ask if a theist would sacrifice a kid if God said to. Well does god exist? If so, then wouldnt you do as told? and if not, then the theist wouldnt obey a fake god either. You are asking a question based on a premise the theist holds while not accepting the premise itself. As it stands today, nobody on this blog is sacrificing their children. Would they if god told them too? again if god existed you would to.
                    John wrote the following:
                    “furthermore skeptic you are very confused, let me try to walk you through this. Your 4th question was: “If God told you to kill your children, and it absolutely nothing to do with whether they are evil or not, but just to give you a command, would you kill your children?” This question and response seemed to bother you the most. Allow me to walk you through it and point out how foolish you are.
                    When you ask “If God told you…” What do you mean by God? you don’t believe in god, so you are asking me, who DOES believe in god, if THAT GOD that i believe in told me… would I listen. Right? so far so good. (If you are referring to any other form of god (ie fake forms) then the answer is obviously no, i would not listen)
                    Now let us move on. That god that i believe in (which again is what your question is referring to.) is righteous, and defines good and evil. If he commands us not to kill, then killing is evil. If he commands us to execute murderers (in the proper context) then executing murderers is good. If he commands us not to eat pork, then eating pork is evil. If he commands us to give lashes to to Jews who eat pork (again, in the proper context) then giving them lashes is good etc you get the picture (I hope). This is the God I refer to, and you do, if your question has any meaning. Again to your question, if this All- righteous God, who defines what is good told me… would i listen. In which case if god told me to kill an Amalekite or my children, as hard as it may be to understand or to do, it is good. Again this is the premise of your question. If you hold any other premise then the question doesnt begin and nor does it make sense. So your question is would I do this Good act though it may be extremely difficult? To which i replied “Id like to think so but I doubt it unfortunately. You shouldve gone to shul yesterday we read the story of avraham and the akaida. He was able to withstand that tremendous nisayon, I doubt i could. ”
                    your response ” ..because you are better..” indicates that you are missing a premise (that God = pure goodness) of your own question. Which again without that premise your question doesn’t begin. you cant have it both ways. In a world where god exists and is pure good then i would follow which is the good thing to do. In your world where you dont believe in god or believe in a God who is commands evil, then again your question doesn’t begin and that isn’t the question I answered.”

                    • Puzzled October 27, 2010, 9:45 AM

                      I don’t know what I’d do when faced with incontrovertible proof that God exists and has demanded that I sacrifice my son. However, I do know what I hope I would do. I would hope that I would say “You created me with a conscience, and I obey its dictates. You can threaten me with hell or promise heaven, but I must do what I know to be right, not what You know to be right.”

                      However, John’s response here is premised on tying together different questions. What I really object to is not the claim of God’s existence, but precisely the setting aside of absolute morality in favor of a command-based theology. My objection is to the very move to define God as pure good. I believe the ethics should come first, and if God were to command something, I would then determine if it were good or evil on the basis of the ethics.

  • Cents October 22, 2010, 12:59 AM

    Michal,
    Unfortunately I am pressed for time on personal issues so have not even read all the long tirades (especially Catholic Mom but I will try and have a look when I can). But to answer your simple question of:
    “I’m wondering why you care so much, if silly people want to believe in sky-daddies or talking snakes or whatever colorful names youve come up with, why does it bug you so much Let them be, if it makes them happy and gives them comfort.”
    The reason that secularist (and I) are concerned about religious belief is due to the conflict and damage to human society that is done by organized religions. (There are too many examples out there to start listing them all). The attempt of religions (who believe only they know the true word of their god(s)) result in an attempt to impose their views on the rest of us. This affects the rights of human beings to have a quality undiscriminated life experience. We don’t want religion to have any say in politics or public education, (politics because religions will enact laws that restrict public freedom and public education as religious school and religion talk in schools result in a we/they segregation that creates conflict around the world.)
    These commnets don’t just apply to those in many third world countries. There are many in America who would love to set up a theocracy.
    Sorry got to go.

    • Dovybear October 22, 2010, 4:34 AM

      “tirades”?! Since when are logical, rational arguments tirades? Because they’re lengthy? Well some of your posts must be downright overflowing with bile then. Oh, wait, they are.
      The old “religions cause conflicts” argument is so tired that it’s in danger of falling asleep with its clothes on. (note correct apostrophe use – again). I might point to the Golden Age of Spain as an example where all three great monotheistic faiths lived perfectly harmoniously and I might point to Communist Russia where, despite what Heshy said (tongue-in-cheek, I imagine), there were more than 30,000,000 people killed in the name of atheism. As for religions enacting laws that restrict public freedoms – what do you think the government does now? Do you really think that freedom means that you can do whatever you feel like doing? And if not, why would the fact that the laws are religious in nature disturb you any more than those which aren’t?
      I would also like to reply here to some comments you made in a =n earlier post.
      “Have you read all these?” Well, not all but a fair few – I’d wager to say more than you (just because I’ve read so many, not assuming that you haven’t read any at all…)
      The problems with relative morality are well documented, indeed if you believe in relative morality you have no argument against religions, their moralities are simply different from yours and you cannot force your morality on them.
      As for the fact that a neuroscientist has written a book. Big whoop. So now YOU have a religious text. Anyway, he’s a neuroscientist, not a philosopher of ethics or a theologian – what qualifies him as a moral authority just because he is knowledgeable in another area?
      “old testament is full of genocide” Nope. I don’t know about you, but I’ve read it cover to cover (in the original Hebrew as well) along with the classic standard commentaries, but of course you know better. Because Richard Dawkins said so.
      “who knows, maybe Hitler’s views on genocide etc…” Once again you throw your ignorance out there for everybody to see. Hitler, in fact, wrote numerous times that he detested the OT because he thought that it “gave us morals”, and morals were wrong – “it is the law of the jungle” (yep, that’s a Hitler original phrase, so think twice before you use it next time) that counts. And where did he get this idea from? “natural selection requires that the weak, the infirm, the under-man, are destroyed by the strong, the over-man.” In other words, Hitler’s views in genocide were a direct result of his belief in evolution. So the two biggest mass-murderers in human history were both driven by their belief in evolution, yet it is religion that causes “conflict and damage to human society”.
      Like I said, an honest answer???

      • Cents October 22, 2010, 1:42 PM

        Dovybear I stopped reading when you said “there were more than 30,000,000 people killed in the name of atheism.” No one killed someone in the name of atheism. Pol Pot or Stalin may have been atheists (not Hitler as is usually trotted out as he was or pretended to be a Catholic) and they may even have been philatelists and they may have even collected rocks. What they did was for power pure and simple. There are so many religious wars and killings in the name of religion that to conclude that religion is the cause of wars and conflict in the world is unavoidable. Look at 9/11. Look at the Sunnis and Shiites. Look at the entire Middle East. Pakistan and India. It’s everywhere. Look at the reise of fundamentalism around the world. Conflict in the name of religion has become an plague on the earth.

        • Michal October 22, 2010, 2:35 PM

          Centsless you’re being silly again. Dont just repeat atheist taglines that your prophet (I liked the line earlier about the mantra of atheism: There is no God and dawkins is his prophet”) Dawkins tells you, think it through. True Hitler may have been Catholic, but that doesn’t make WWII a religous war. If we were to split all wars into theistic and atheistic, surely you realize that WWII falls squarely in the atheistic category.
          You go on to say ” There are so many religious wars and killings in the name of religion that to conclude that religion is the cause of wars and conflict in the world is unavoidable” What about the earlier examples you gave of Pol Pot and Stalin ?
          And besides your idea that religon is bad becasue ” religion is the cause of wars and conflict in the world” is only true if there are numerous religions. In other words whay you mean is “religous differences are the cause …” It isnt a reason to abandon ALL religions, your argument only pushes towards all embracing one religion. Now if you just think a little more, the truth is.. “all IDEAS create “idea divisions” between all people on the planet. Of course YOU have a set of ideas which everyone on the planet should adopt so that universal peace will break out once all people now believe and accept the universal “Cents” ideas.”
          As Catholic mom explained to you.

        • Catholic Mom October 22, 2010, 5:31 PM

          From Wikipedia, the font of all human knowledge:

          >>According to historian Bradley F. Smith, Hitler’s father Alois, though nominally a Catholic, was somewhat religiously sceptical while his mother was a practicing Catholic. According to historian Michael Rissmann, young Hitler was influenced in school by Pan-Germanism and began to reject the Catholic Church, receiving Confirmation only unwillingly. A boyhood friend reports that after Hitler left home, he never again attended Mass or received the sacraments

          From Mein Kampf, speaking of his early years in Vienna:

          >>In the Jew I still saw only a man who was of a different religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I was against the idea that he should be attacked because he had a different faith. And so I considered that the tone adopted by the anti-Semitic press in Vienna was unworthy of the cultural traditions of a great people.

          It was only after he stopped viewing Jews as being primarily different from other Germans because of a difference in religion and began to view them as different primarily because of “race” did he begin to see the existence of a “Jewish problem.”

          • Cents October 22, 2010, 6:19 PM

            Sorry there are plenty of quotes from Mein Kampf that state he is doing Gods work. Note the Gott mitt uns on their belt buckles. Just look at the quotes and the photos. They speak for themselves. http://www.nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm
            Again no one has conducted any wars because they don’t believe in deities. The history of the world is full of violence by people who do, and that’s a fact. If you disbelieve what I just stated provide evidence where there was a war under teh banner of atheism, I certainly have no problem supporting my claim throghout history.

            • Catholic Mom October 22, 2010, 10:03 PM

              “Gott Mitt Uns” was the motto on the standard of the Prussian emperor for 150 years before Hitler.

              Your site is a tad biased, not to say wacko. Try offering evidence from a reliable historical source.

              The point is, Hitler flipped Christianity on its head. There is no “blessed are the gentle in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,” or “the first shall be last and last shall be first.”

              “The first shall damned well be first and put their foot on everybody else’s throat to stay there.” “Blessed are the strong, for they shall kill off the weak.” “Blessed are the murderers for their reich shall endure forever.”

              This are the beatitudes of a people with no need of God, because their faith is in themselves, the superiority of the Aryan people and their destiny as masters of the world. Call that what you want.

        • Dovybear October 23, 2010, 2:57 PM

          Pity you stopped reading then, because I provided quotes from Hitler himself. But of course you must be right – after all, Richard Dawkins said so.

      • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:41 PM

        What is the relevance of ‘what the government does now?’ I can’t speak for Cents, but I believe the government sometimes bans things in order to increase freedom, and more commonly bans or regulates things in order to increase the power of certain large corporations and powerful people, and sometimes has bans and regulations that are religious in nature – alcohol on Sunday, for instance. Freedom means precisely what you say, with the exception that your actions must not harm others. Certainly it is destructive of freedom to ban actions or require actions for no reason other than a religious matter. I don’t see that you’ve even raised an intelligable objection to that claim.

        I suppose in your multiple cover to cover readings, you didn’t come across Amalek and Midian. That’s ok.

        • Dovybear October 27, 2010, 7:32 AM

          Let’s take these points one at a time.
          1). I simply want to know what is the differences between government rules and religious rules? For example, the town of Castello De La Blanca in Italy has recently brought in strict modesty laws (on an entirely secular basis), punishable by a hefty fine. How is this not a restriction of freedom – surely it doesn’t hurt anyone else to walk around in a miniskirt, yet here they are making it illegal…
          2) Amalek? You mean the nation that attacked us (from behind, I might add – they didn’t even have the courage to take us on face-to-face) as we left Egypt with the sole intent of wiping everyone out, only after which were we commanded to destroy them ? That Amalek? The one whose most famous son tried to “destroy all the Jews, from young to old, and despoil their property? Same one? The nation whose raison d’etre was simply to kill every last Jew? That one? If you had a mortal enemy, would you not kill him before he killed you?
          And as for Midian, the same Midian that they were commanded not to attack unless provoked? And who they then attacked only when provoked? Or are you referring to a different Midian. Surely it couldn’t be the same Midian who hired Bilaam to curse us into oblivion and then tried to get us destroyed by way of enticing the nation into idolatry and gilui arayos so that God would turn away from us? Surely not…
          You cannot accept one half of the story if you won’t accept the other.

          • Puzzled October 27, 2010, 9:56 AM

            1. The difference is precisely that when the government makes a rule for non-religious reasons, it remains open to discussion. The rule emerged from debate in the legislature and is part of the political process, flawed as that is. A law based on religion is adopted as an article of faith. For what it’s worth, I oppose the Italian law too, so I don’t see how the comparison helps the point.
            2. No, not that Amalek. Rather, their descendents who lived generations later. A man does not become my mortal enemy simply because of who his great great great grandparents were. The ‘raison d’etre’ point is question begging, as is the identification of Haman with Amalek. Would you expect that I would consider rabbinic pronouncements of that type authoritative? On Midian, I am not a supernaturalist. I don’t believe a woman invites God’s wrath on me by sleeping with me. I don’t believe that hiring someone to pronounce curses on me does any real damage. By the way, God is not, in most theologies, an automaton. If He knows why Midian is seducing the men, what forces him to respond with a plague? Why not just kill the Midianites himself?

            • Dovybear October 27, 2010, 10:52 AM

              1. “It remains open to discussion”. Yes, by the government, in the same way as religious law is open to discussion by the religious arbiters. I am glad that you oppose the Italian law (it proves that your beliefs are sincere), but that doesn’t change my point – that both religious and secular law restrict what people like to call freedom, in which case, why not oppose any form of law and be an anarchist?
              2. On Amalek and their descendants. I think I said that the nation of Amalek, throughout time, has aimed to destroy us. Haman being an Amaleki is clear form the possuk in Megilas Esther: he is “Haman Ha’Agagi” – Haman a descendant of Agag, Agag being the king of Amalek, his great-grandson would be Amaleki. You don’t have to take the rabbis’ word for it.
              I’m glad that you don’t believe in cursing people, but the Midianites certainly did, who cares what you believe? What they were trying to achieve doesn’t change just because you personally don’t believe it would have worked. They thought that making the Jews fall into idolatry and gilui arayos would be effective – who cares what you think?
              Yes, God is not an automaton, nothing “forces Him to respond with a plague”. However, when people sin, there are consequences, sometimes in this world, sometimes in the next. The Bnei Yisrael sinned to God, thus God Himself plagues them, the Midianites sinned against the Bnei Yisrael, thus God commands “extract the revenge of ISRAEL from the Midianites”, to be done by those against whom was their sin. Killing the Midianites Himself would not be midda k’neged midda.
              There is a lot more to say about all this, but here and now is not really the time nor the place.

    • Michal October 22, 2010, 8:42 AM

      Nah Cents thats not the reason. If it was it would make you really stupid, you see that would be a reason to argue against a theocracy. In fact we would agree completly in that regard. On this post (I scrolled up to double check) there is absolutly no discussion of the sort, all the arguments are about atheism vs. theism not about froming a theocratic society.
      Catholic mom’s reason make more sense. I actually get it finally.

      Btw you should read Cathloic mom’s long tirade. It’s vary well written. Don’t worry it wont bite and it may even open your eyes a little.

  • Cents October 22, 2010, 1:20 AM

    This is an example of exactly what I mean.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjp4A6jBWzo&feature=player_embedded#!

  • Phil October 22, 2010, 7:30 AM

    Wow! 200+ comments and still not 1 reply from any of the scientific atheists as to how or what criteria they use to define who is considered Jewish.

    And we’re the confused ones?

  • FrumGer October 22, 2010, 9:19 AM

    Cents
    you keep talking about relative morality, and I agree there has always has been selective morality. in ancient sparta is was common to leave kids to exposure in a type of eugenics, it was concidered normal to steal or rob someone, Pedastry and murder. all things that are morally wrong to us. but science morality is a hard bitch of a pill to swallow.

    if scientific morality were what we base things on, the first thing that would happen would be the massive executions of mentally challenged chronically infirm, the elderly. this is Eugenics. Scientifically speaking it is whats best for the community resources, but its still appaling.

    Human testing, would be a great way to make true advances in science to better the whole community, but it would do terrors to the individuals that have to undergo them.
    Food supply- make everyone eat the same thing- some perfectly engeneered food that is cheap and provides all the essentials.

    Force peopleto wear a uniform that way no one will feel greater or less than. it can be a bio suit that keeps the body at the perfect temperature all the time.

    If science had no philosophy or religion, this planet would die of hard ache. scientific morality is a constant callibration of the numbers game. mankind would loose it individuality. loose its art, loose its beauty. Science is cold. Science is calculated. It is necessary to have science for sure but I like it in the place it is .
    because mankind is not unified in nature, if you try to unify it the only way that will occur will be by force. history tells us that If you force unity on someone it will reject quickly. you think you have the answers, no way, all you have is more complicated problems.

    Religion has its share of victims, it’s share of blood shed. but that bloodshed is not compared with the hundreds of millions just in this past century, done by Hilter, Stalin Mao and others all in the name of science, natural selection, and unity.

    Hitler tried this unified world via scientific based morality and look what the f happened. Try again.

  • Cents October 22, 2010, 2:34 PM

    FrumGer, I am arguing against relative morality not for it. Your views on what implications of using science to determine what is moral is completely fallacious. For a primer on the subject have a look at this youtube video of a TED program http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj9oB4zpHww
    As I said whether Sam Harris’ views expressed in his book will be successful is anybodies guess but it is definitely a step in the right direction, of doing away with relative moral systems.
    Here are comments by reviewers who have actually read the book. http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Landscape-Science-Determine-Values/product-reviews/1439171211/ref=cm_cr_pr_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending
    There is a lot of hope here that he is only to something. We need to find a way forward in this area for the good of humanity.

    • Cents October 22, 2010, 11:57 PM

      All partcipants,
      I just thought I would provide this article entitled “Attitudes of Educated Orthodox Jews Towards Science: a survey” that does explain to a large degree the attitudes and views of some of the participants in these discussions.

      http://secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=nussbaum_fi_30_1

      • Dovybear October 26, 2010, 2:00 PM

        I read it, and being an educated Orthodox Jew, and knowing other educated Orthodox Jews, I can tell you quite simply:
        a) His delineations of Orthodox Jews and their attitudes towards science is overly simplified to the point of being wrong.
        b) The questions are deliberately misleading, inducing answers that give a very biased representation.
        c) The sample sizes are far too small to be meaningful.
        d) He cherry-picks quite unabashedly.
        I find it really quite amusing when someone tries to tell me what my beliefs are.
        Just by the way, we all have biases – some open, some hidden. the implicit biases in his survey are that evolutionary theory is correct, that there is a full and complete fossil record, that Orthodox Jews are automatically blinded to the truth as a result of their beliefs, to name but a few. In which case, his findings are unsurprising – he simply finds that which he wanted to find.
        As such, this survey shows and explains absolutely nothing but that people disagree with each other and that both sides are biased. Wow. What a surprising revelation.

  • Phil October 24, 2010, 2:57 PM

    Skeptic,

    Believing that the universe came about from a random explosion, now there’s something that makes “real” sense. Or how about the one about your grandmother being an ape that descended from a snail, hahaha…

    Once you’re done going in circles debating stupidity, answer my simple question:

    How do YOU as an atheist define yourself or anyone as being a Jew or non Jew?

    • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 4:43 PM

      Yes, less than knowledgable sneers at science certainly make irrelevant any responses. However, maybe I’m missing something, but how on earth did resolving your halachic problems become a responsibility of atheism?

      • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) October 26, 2010, 4:55 PM

        Puzzled,

        I’m seriously trying to figure out how a so called atheist defines Jews. Maybe you can fill me in if I’m missing something:

        1) If God doesn’t exist and the Torah is a fabrication, then following maternal lineage is B.S as well. If maternal lineage is B.S as well, what makes anyone Jews in your eyes?

        2) If a Jew and non Jew marry, would and atheist consider the kids half Jews? What it they then marry non Jews? To they become 1/4 Jews? Isn’t calling one a 1/2 Jew the same as calling someone 1/2 pregnant?

        I don’t have any problems defining who is Jewish and who isn’t, halacha has a quite clear definition. For the purpose of this discussion, I simply want to know the atheist criteria to defining who is a Jew and on what that criteria is based.

        Maybe you can unpuzzle me 🙂

        • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 6:39 PM

          I don’t think there would such a thing as a standard-issue atheist criteria on Jewishness. It’s like asking for the atheist criteria on an interesting book. I can try to address your questions from my perspective, though:
          1. This depends on what is meant by fabrication. I think it contains statements that are not literally true. You also think it contains statements that are not literally true. I think it is the expression of other truths by people living through a most remarkable period. On the specific question of matrilineal descent, I don’t accept the derivation from the text. I believe that the authors had an understanding, the rabbis had an understanding, and future generations have their understandings. At the same time, whatever the practice was in the past, matrilineal descent is the time-hallowed custom, and it not offensive, so I see no difficulty accepting it.
          2. I don’t think the term half Jew makes sense.

          • Phil October 26, 2010, 8:34 PM

            Puzzled,

            So you have no trouble believing that a Jewesses daughter’s daughter’s daughter’s daughter is still a Jewess no matter how many non Jewish fathers were involved, yet a Jewish man’s kids by a non Jewish woman are not Jewish. All based on the word of a God you don’t believe exists and his book and rabbis that essentially believe in fairy tales.

            You don’t sound like that much of an atheist to me.

            • Puzzled October 26, 2010, 8:57 PM

              Well, I’m with you on the first sentence, less on the second. If it helps to understand where I’m coming from, I consider myself a Reconstructionist. Some atheists might consider me to be out of the club, but I consider myself mostly in it. Whatever reason the authors gave for the custom, whatever reason later generations gave for the custom, I respect the action and reinterpret its meaning if possible; if not, I leave it uninterpreted.

              Now, where I disagree with you is if you think that therefore, a Jewish man is doing something terrible by marrying a non-Jewish woman. I also disagree that the rabbis “essentially believed in fairy tales.” They lived in a different time.

              • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) October 26, 2010, 9:46 PM

                Puzzled,

                I think you might really be puzzled if you are a reconstructionist atheist. If you do believe, why follow the obscure of imitation Judaisms, and if you don’t believe the same question stands?

                Not that I’m an expert, but when a movement denies that God gave the Torah or that God intervenes in our everyday lives, what business do they have reading Torah or wearing tefillin? Isn’t this an oxymoron?

                • Puzzled October 27, 2010, 9:24 AM

                  Phil, what you’re saying is exactly what I hear commonly from the orthodox, it’s also what I first thought as an orthodox Jew declining in faith and learning about Kaplan. On your first bit, the question is – what does Reconstructionist Judaism say about God? The famous phrase is “the power that makes for salvation.” There are theistic and atheistic interpretations of this phrase. It depends on what the individual means by salvation and how he thinks it comes about. So there can be theist and atheist Reconstructionists.

                  Regarding obscurity, what can I say? I don’t choose my beliefs by democratic means. Imitation is just question-begging.

                  On your second paragraph, I don’t know why you’d say that. I frequently read Kafka novels, and find them insightful. I regularly reread them. I believe that a man named Kafka wrote them, not God. Why should my belief that a man wrote a book lead to not reading it?

                  Wearing tefillin and so on might be a stronger question. However, it is your assumption, not mine, that the only reason to do these things is out of a sense of commandedness. Reconstructionist Judaism believes that practices can become worthwhile because of tradition, or that rituals can be symbolic of things we do believe. That is, we believe in a value to the ritual.

                  This is something I noticed once at a Chabad house. A guest asked “what would you do if you learning you weren’t Jewish?” Contrary to what I would have expected, the orthodox Jews almost uniformly said they would simply obey the 7 laws. Non-orthodox Jews mostly said they would convert. The orthodox tended to view the commandments as a burden and wonder why they would want to take them if they didn’t have to. The non-orthodox tended to find value and lessons in the rituals and wanted to hold on to them.

  • Phil October 27, 2010, 9:38 AM

    Puzzled,

    OK, I hear you points, though I still think they make no sense, especially the part about following ancients outdated rituals if you believe they have no purposes. The people that performed these rituals over the past 3000 years, did so because they had religious / spiritual meaning and they felt connect to God by doing them. The tefillin contain verses of Torah in them.

    If one doesn’t believe in God, what’s the point? Would you wear tefillin if you knew they weren’t halachically kosher, say if the had comics inside instead of Torah or if the were made of plastic?

    As for conversions, I too never understood what would make a non Jew want to become a sincere convert. Noachide law is what’s expected from them, why bother going through all the rest?

    It’s different for born Jews, as we feel that we are privileged to have been born Jews, and see it as our duty to maintain the faith as best we can, and bring our kids up to do so as well.

    • Puzzled October 27, 2010, 10:06 AM

      Again, I don’t believe they have no purpose; I believe you are incorrect about their purpose. I’m not sure that your supporting sentence is precisely true. People do things for lots of reasons. I happen to think that the authors were speaking metaphorically, and that many rituals were consciously designed for specific purposes. Others I think came from surrounding areas – for instance, Caananite religions considered 7 unlucky and did not plant crops on the 7th day for that reason. I consider that irrelevant to this point, though, and will for this purpose assume that the rituals were initially intended as expressions of God’s will. That tells me little about what happened in the intervening years. Certainly you won’t deny that social pressures kept Jews observant in Europe – those who followed the rules for that reason intended social cohesion or even life, not necessarily to get closer to God. Finally, what if they did, too, and that was constant? Why does that somehow prevent me from seeing a different value in the ritual? I believe it is worthwhile to have a day set aside for reflection and self-improvement; I believe it is valuable once a year to revisit my ideals, and 10 days later to see how I have failed to live up to them. I believe my life is improved by the discipline of controlling my appetite.

      The all or nothing mentality of orthodoxy leads you to trivialize the mitzvot. It is not the case that either God demands I wear these, or they are worth nothing more than comic books. Comic books do not contain the wisdom of an age of large-scale change.

      On conversions, I wouldn’t expect you to believe otherwise. You are just talking out the orthodox perspective I mentioned. The key is that the non orthodox observant Jew sees an actual value in the performances, whereas you see the value as coming only from the command.

  • Yserbius the Yekke October 28, 2010, 2:14 PM

    This post depresses me

  • John November 4, 2010, 3:14 PM

    (Skeptic this is response to your last comment hope you find it ok)
    I didnt lie, you did.
    Here is what I said : “When you ask “If God told you…” What do you mean by God? you don’t believe in god, so you are asking me, who DOES believe in god, if THAT GOD that i believe in told me… would I listen. Right? so far so good. (If you are referring to any other form of god (ie fake forms) then the answer is obviously no, i would not listen)”
    You are talking about some other god, one that is a “fascist, he is a h0mophobe, he is a $exist. The God you believe in satisfies all of these properties” I would not obey that God, and I NEVER said I would.

    You say “The guy who confessed to killing his own children is an imaginary voice told him in his head is saying I am “silly”.”

    I never confessed to killing my children (and you say I lie?) this last comment makes you worse than silly, you are delusional. And as for being silly, dont be sad about it, many many atheists make the same silly mistake you do. Well you should feel a little bad about it, as you should think things through on your own, especialy when you have me to help you along when you get stuck. dont just parrot stuff you hear from Dawkins, think for yourself he isnt god you know.

    You conclude “Why should I accept your premises. You have no justified them. And even if I do accept your premises, like I just have above, I arrive at the conclusion that the God you bow and tremble before every day is a fascist.”
    I am not trying to convince you of the veracity of my premise. However your conclusion is completly absurd since it only exists based on the premise and it directly negates the premise.

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