This is a repost of something I wrote after Yom Kippur last year. I’m so thankful for how much has changed since I wrote this. The fact that I’m able to sit next to my wife, who is observing Yom Kipper (and shabbos), and work on my computer and we are both totally happy with each other is really amazing. Last year at this time we were both very scared about the changes we were going through and where they would lead us and if they would pull us apart. But we have learned to love each other for who we are as people and not our beliefs and find our way through life together with Compromise as our map.
Yom Kippur Skipper
A man stands outside the sanctuary doors, alone. On the other side closed eyes squeeze the last drops of submission from the hearts beneath them.
They make nectar for God.
Faces press against prayerbook pages. Lips kiss the print. Hips twist. Shoulders sway. Knees bend. Heels bounce.
Some of the weaker minds wander.
The fear of death choreographs the movements; coordinates the incantations. They wear white to be like angels as they howl at heaven.
This is their recipe for salvation.
The man outside doesn’t go in.
Alone in the hallway, he absorbs the ritual; observes the movements through the window on the door, listens to the chants.
Prayerbook closed against his chest. Lips stiff. Hips still. Shoulders steady. Knees straight. Heels flat.
So I started to look more at that website which was submitted recently. The Continental Drift article was wrong, but not profoundly stupid. Then I found his article on Evolution.
Buckle-up, we’re going on a trip through the Valley of Derrrp.
150 years ago Chuck Darwin wrote a book about his THEORY that Hashem [god] doesn’t exist and that everything is here, including all living things, by accident.
An ad hominem and complete misrepresentation (likely a complete misunderstanding) of what evolution is about. I could almost end my rebuttal here with just quoting his first sentence.
But to spell it out:
1) "Theory" is not a light term in science (which I’d expect the OP to know since he worked in engineering). Just the opposite. A theory is reserved for an idea which marshals many disparate facts together and explains them under a single idea, which is not an easy thing to do. This is in contrast to how the word “theory” is used colloquially, which is more like a guess. But the “theory of gravity” isn’t a guess. “Plate tectonic theory” isn’t a guess either. They use evidence to make sense of disparate facts - basically the exact opposite of what religion does.
2) “that hashem [god] doesn’t exist” - Evolution says nothing about god. Many even think that god may have used evolution. In fact, in The Origin of Species, god isn’t even mentioned except for a hat-tip to god at the end of the book. What evolution does do, however, in terms of religion, is completely destroy the argument from design. That’s not the same thing as destroying god - it’s just destroying a major argument used to support the god claim. Also, it disputes a literal interpretation of genesis - e.g. plants before the sun, women made from ribs, etc. But it’s not an attack on god. That’s just in the OPs head.
3) “…that everything is here, including all living things, by accident”. Actually, Darwinian evolution is only about living things. It’s not about cosmology. It’s not about the origin of life. It’s about the diversity of life. Secondly, “accident” is a fuzzy term. To clarify: Evolution purports that nature can create design as part of a physical process. That is, species don’t come into existence “by accident” - though they weren’t made with foresight or intent either.
But let’s move on from the many faults in the very first sentence…
You may not think that was his actual purpose but knowing his colleagues that supported his effort and the popularity that he would gain from such an undertaking, I believe it was his foremost motive.
4) So, you think that bc of the support he would later receive from some of his colleagues to publish his book (and that was in part bc Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the same idea and was starting to publish it!), and bc of the popularity he would gain after he published his book, that you can deduce the motivations he had while he researched it for twenty years prior to that, starting when he was fervently religious?!
5) Additionally, have you studied Darwin’s actual biography, or are you just casting aspersions based on laughably weak evidence? Did you know that Darwin originally wanted to be a minister?! Did you know that his wife was a very religious woman? Did you know that he never called himself an atheist, but only an agnostic, and that he himself was very uncomfortable with the tremendous theological implications of his work? (x) Probably not. Instead, you just make shit up like a gossipy girl in the schoolyard.
He came up with such wonderful expressions as natural selection, meaning that nature has some way to just, out of necessity, design itself.
6) Natural selection isn’t just an expression, it’s a very helpful and descriptive term which aptly applies to his theory and is meant to contrast with human selection, aka selective breeding, which he discusses at length.
7) “…nature has some way to just, out of necessity, design itself” - Actually, that’s not what evolution says at all. Nothing is designing itself in evolution. Instead, the environment and natural laws give rise to biological designs, just as they give rise to other magnificent things like waterfalls and mountains. No-one is saying that waterfalls design themselves, and no-one is saying that species do either… that is, except for you, in mischaracterizing ideas you either don’t understand or don’t care to understand.
With the help of mutations that occur in nature, all the species of plants, animals and even human beings just happened. Chuck stated that after about 100 years of gathering fossils, scientists would be able to document the links between the species proving the evolutionary pattern. He also stated that he can explain everything except the eye. The eye was way too complicated and sophisticated to have possibly evolved by natural selection.
8) Darwin didn’t quite say that about the eye. See his words in full, in the section of the Origin titled “organs of extreme perfection and complication”, (Click Here). Furthermore, we now have a very good picture of how eyes have evolved (x), so whether Darwin himself knew doesn’t really matter to me at all. But I guess you’d like to tear down the theory of evolution because Darwin wasn’t able to cover every single aspect of biology, chemistry, and paleontology in his lifetime? Frankly, that’s idiotic.
9) Furthermore, we have a fairly complete picture of how species are related to each-other and evolved over time, a picture developed through paleontology and later confirmed by genetics. (x,x ) And this picture is further fleshed out with new discoveries and studies all the time.
Well, here it is 150 years later and the only thing that has been proven is how stupid scientists, governments and the education system can be. Let’s review what was proposed as a theory and what has actually been proven. First of all, it is so convenient that just about none of Chuck’s theory can be proven. To prove it evolved by accident instead of being created by a Source of infinite intelligence comes down to personal opinion – not scientific verification.
10) As I wrote at the start, evolution doesn’t disprove god, just the argument from design. And creationism. And considering that 99% of species that ever existed went extinct, along with other facts about how and why different species survived, evolved, or died out, it does tend to make the idea of an intelligently created world seem a bit more absurd.
11) Furthermore, science tries to reduce unnecessary variables. If science has an explanation for how things can evolve, and it doesn’t require magic, why on earth would they insert magic into the explanation? The burden of proof is on you to prove that magic was involved if you actually think that.
But, let’s look at what Chuck told us to observe and what the outcome really was. He said: After about 100 years of fossil collection, we will see the connection. Well, after 150 years of fossil collection we have seen no connection. Even worse is the total lack of necessary intermediate stages that were needed to complete the picture.
Yeah, that’s false. See point 9.
As an example, when did we go from cold blooded sea creatures to warm blooded land creatures? Shouldn’t we find million of years of intermediate species making the transition?
12) Not sure why you think this must be particularly difficult? Perhaps bc you don’t realize that there’s been a gradation of how species manage their temperature for a long time and amongst very diverse groups. (x) But in short, producing heat to stabilize our temperature is not terribly difficult. Our organs and cells produce heat from natural metabolic reactions. As for why some species do it more or less than others, it’s usually been suggested that it has to do with fluctuations of temperature in their environment (e.g., the sea is usually a relatively constant temperature, while temperature on land and in the air varies widely just throughout a single day), and bc temperature differences can affect performance in certain situations (i.e. increased heat increases chemical reactions).
Also, have you even bothered to look for articles on this subject? e.g. this one.
Another concern: when did we go from scales and fins to skin with hair? Shouldn’t we find million of years of intermediate species making the transition?
13) Um… yeahh… we do. Fish —> Lizards —> Mammals.
Again, did you do any research before writing your nonsense? Any at all?!
The biggest thing that was lacking was intelligence.
In some cases, still lacking ;P
But seriously, intelligence has existed for a long time. Human intelligence, however, has existed as long as humans have. (duh!)
Last week I basically told my mom that I’m not religious anymore. It’s been almost two years since my “awakening” began and I have wanted to say something to her for a while but I didn’t want to upset her and I was not sure how to bring it up.
I was driving her home from the airport kippahless and she asked me about the whereabouts of my kippah. I pointed out that I had a hat on the center console but I took it off because it hits the car ceiling (I’m tall).
At that point she said “are you still religious?” It kind of caught me off guard, although not completely because I underwent similar questioning over the past 12 months as she has noticed I stopped performing many religious duties (like going to synagogue on Sabbath). Instead of avoiding the question, like I had the other times, I said said “define religious…” I could have just said no, but the other response seemed like an easier answer for both of us. She said “do you believe in God?” And I said “not in the same sense that I used to. I can’t believe that I was lucky enough to be born into the one true religion and have the right God and everyone else was unlucky enough to miss out.” Again, that seemed easier than a simple no.
She asked how my wife felt about it and I said that she doesn’t share the same view but we respect each other’s beliefs and we are compromising on things.
That was the end of the conversation. I know she has more to say on the matter, but she probably just needed to digest. It will come up again and we’ll see how it goes. I have no desire to try and change her beliefs, but I do want to stick up for my own views so I will try and do that as best I can without being aggressive is or offensive.
It definitely feels good to “come out” to her at least in some fashion.
I will answer your second point first:
I looked up the “interesting science video" video you mention and after 20 minutes I had to shut it off because my brain cells were hastily combusting with every passing moment of nonsense that I endured.
I am not going to get into all of the details because if you have ever taken a few moments to read any real modern scientific book discussing evolution in any detail you would instantly see how silly your video is to anyone with any real knowledge on the subject. But there are a few points I would like to make:
1. In NO WAY is that a “science” video. It is a video preaching intelligent design, which is the exact opposite of science. The “scientists” in that video are all ID hacks whose claims have been debunked and laughed at by the scientific community many times over,
2. This video was made by religious people for religious people as a way to allow the religious masses to think there is actual some scientific backing to their beliefs. News flash: there is not.
3. If you are really interested in the specifics as to why many of the points in this video are just plain wrong, here is a good article. (THAT’S science) There are many other things wrong with the video, but that article should suffice for now. However, I have no doubt that the article I just linked to will do nothing to sway your opinion on that video or the idea of intelligent design.
Which leads me back to your first point…
The nature of your question shows just how ridiculous the idea of “Emunah” (faith) is. You said “…(some people) still have a little emunah besides rationalism.” What that basically means is that some people disbelieve their own senses and forgo their ability to reason and instead opt to believe in things that cannot be validated and, in fact, contradict the nature of reality. And you ask it as if that is the better thing to do.
Emunah is what will keep you from reading the link I just posted and realizing the video you mentioned is flat-out wrong. Emunah will keep you disbelieving all the evidence that shows the bible was man-made. Emunah will have you doing things that are harmful to you and/or others because you think God said so. It will even make you think those things are good. Emunah will beat your ability to reason down to a slimy pulp of submissiveness. It will stop you from questioning that which begs it.
No, I do not have the type of Emunah you are referring to.
And if you are really interested in the subject of evolution. Here is some recommended reading on the subject, although I’m afraid your emunah will prevent you from reading any of these”
The Greatest Show On Earth (light reading)
The Blind Watchmaker (Moderate reading)
The Selfish Gene (heavy)
Why Evolution Is True (Light reading)
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (fairly difficult read, but very good)
Firstly, I’m not sure how many kabbalists actually believed that. (For instance, check this out.)
Secondly, I’m curious as to which other potential ages of the universe were believed? Surely many believed in the literal 6000 date as well, and probably others had other dates as well, based on exegesis and such, just like the 15.3 number (e.g. the talmud says there were 974 generations before Adam was created; even if generation was a thousand years, that’s still only 974,000 years!). So getting one good guess amongst a bunch of totally wrong ones isn’t very impressive. I’d need a well researched paper illustrating which dates have been proposed.
Lastly, considering the universe is actually around 13.8 billion years old - around a 10% difference - that’s not too much to brag about.
Also, I might ask you how convincing you find the following (which I just found); do you find it persuasive?
This has to be the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked (on many levels).
I’m a big fan of the show Shark Tank. As a entrepreneur, I can relate to the highs and lows that these companies face. I love and appreciate seeing different business models and seeing the Shark’s reactions to them. One common theme on Shark Tank is the Business Owner who invested their life savings into a clearly terrible idea. It’s hard to watch as the Shark’s sink their teeth into the desperate entrepreneur’s baby. Often times the Sharks plead with the business owner to quit and move on. They explain why putting another dime into this idea will only put them further into debt and make the situation worse. They insist that the business owner should cut his or her losses and move on. But all-too-often the entrepreneur does not heed their advice. The business owner vows to persevere and push on with their idea. Most are never heard from again.
The problem is that people count their past investment into an idea towards its present and future value. While this may make sense if that past investment has produced an asset that has value on it’s own, its utterly senseless when the present state of that idea has no value after the investment.
People make the same mistake with their ideological investments. The more one has invested into their beliefs, the harder it is for them to part ways with those beliefs and the less open minded they are apt to be when evaluating new ideas. They feel that the past investment they made into an ideology contributes to its current Truth Value.
For example, an Orthodox Rabbi in his 60’s who has raised his entire family based on a core belief system, who makes a living on those beliefs, and who has made every choice in his life for 60 years based on that system, is unlikely to be swayed by any form of new information he may come across about the truth of his religion. In fact, he’s unlikely to even pay them much attention. He has invested his whole life (and the lives of his family members) in one ideology and changing his ideology now would mean accepting 60 years worth of wasted investment. A person in that situation no longer seeks truth but rather seeks to reaffirm what they already believe. However, if we were to present the same exact information to that same person when he was in his teens or twenties, there is a much greater likelihood that he would be swayed.
This is the reason why I think it is so important for people to have the opportunity to evaluate new ideas and information that conflicts their religious doctrine when they are younger. This is when people have made the least ideological investment and they are not as tightly bound by their past investment in any ideology. Sure, there are still exterior pressures that make it harder for people to change their minds (social pressures, family pressures, psychological pressures, etc.), but there is far less pressure from your past ideological investment.
This is also one of the reasons I have far less desire to discuss theology with older people (parents, grandparents, older rabbis, etc.), as they are up against a lifetime of ideological investment that they are not about to abandon. Keep that in mind as you discuss religion or politics with anyone, try and assess the investment they have made to their particular belief system and recognize that it will be a barrier to open-mindedness in proportion to the investment.
Additionally, this shows how science differs from theology or other forms of ideology. Science places very little (if any) weight in past investment into an idea. Science (at least good science) only evaluates an idea based on it’s present Truth Value, as determined by objective experimentation and results. Ideas that are hundreds of years old can be changed based on new data and results. This is why science is so important to the advancement of society as a whole.
In a sense, your question is unanswerable because even if I could think of such questions now, they would only be unanswerable based on the our capacity for intelligence in the present and imaginable future, which itself is limited by our current capacity for intelligence. That would not make such questions unanswerable, just unanswered.
I think there may be some silly philosophical questions that some might say are not answerable due to the very nature of the question (if a tree falls in the forrest and no one/nothing is there to hear it, does it make a sound?).
A similar trick question is the question “Does God exists?” Of course, it depends on how you define God. The concept of God as a deity that created the universe and exists outside of it and does not interact with it (I.e deism) is unknowable based very nature of the definition of God as being an unknowable being (in they same way i can’t know of there is an invisible, undetectable purple leprechaun that lives in my closet). However, there is no need to posit such an idea because it does not solve any scientific, philosophical, moral, or any other type of explanation for anything in reality. But the question of the existence of a personal god and revelation of any kind can indeed shown to be false or extremely unlikely (especially when weighed against more plausible scenarios). So if you were going to posit that the question of God is unanswerable I would ask you to clarify which version you are referring to.
Perception is reality. We say that in business. It’s an unfortunate truth for too many in all facets of life. Reality should be testable and empirically verifiable.