Eating Habits – excerpt from the forthcoming “The Bible Trial”

Rabbi Joseph Reinman has been kind enough to allow us to post selections from his forthcoming book – The Bible Trial. The following is the second in a series of excerpts that we will be posting. Stay posted!

Dexter switched gears. “Let’s move on to Solomon’s construction projects in Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer. You say these projects are dated more than a century after King Solomon. When did King Solomon live?”

“In the late tenth century b.c.e. That is almost 1000 b.c.e.”

“How do you know that?”

“We can date it back from the destruction of the Temple he built. According to the Book of Kings, the Temple stood for four hundred years. Since it was destroyed in 586 b.c.e., it must have been built around 990 b.c.e. Those palaces in Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer were built in the mid-800s b.c.e.”

“I see,” said Dexter. “You are going according to the conventional chronology. But if you follow the Talmudic chronology – that the Temple was destroyed in 420 b.c.e. – everything falls into place neatly, doesn’t it? The exodus and conquest take place exactly when the Bible claims they took place, and Solomon’s construction projects take place exactly when the Bible says they took place. Isn’t that so?”

“What do you want me to say?” said the witness. “I think that chronology is wrong.”

Dexter glanced at the jury and saw he had made his point.

“All right,” he said, “let’s talk about the significant increase in population in Canaan in the thirteenth century. If the Bible is fiction, how did the Bible writers, supposedly writing seven hundred years later, know exactly when to place the Israelite influx into Canaan so that it would coincide with a sudden and rapid growth in population? Were they archaeologists?”

“I have no answer to that question. Perhaps they had a tradition.”

“A tradition,” said Dexter, mimicking the witness. “They remembered nothing factual about their own history, but they knew exactly when they arrived. Tell me, Dr. Potemkin, was there anything unusual about the remains from these thirteenth century Israelite habitations?”

“What do you mean? Their pottery and implements were relatively primitive, as I mentioned before.”

“Was there anything unusual about their eating habits?” Dexter prompted the witness. “You know … about the kind of meat they ate?”

“Oh, yes, of course. No pig bones were found in these settlements.”

“Were pig bones found in the habitations of the Canaanites, the Philistines and the other peoples of the area?”

“Yes, many pig bones.”

“But no pig bones in the Israelite habitations?”


“How do you explain that?” asked Dexter.

“We have no explanation for it,” said the witness. “It’s a mystery.”

“Isn’t it a strange coincidence that the Bible forbids pig meat? Could that have been the reason for the absence of pig bones?”

“It couldn’t have been, because the Bible had not yet been written at the time. Probably, the Israelites decided not to eat pigs, and then they wrote it into the Bible.”

“Indeed? And why would they do such a thing? Pigs are a good source of meat, and they’re easy to maintain, because they’ll eat anything. Why would a people struggling to eke out a livelihood deprive themselves of pig meat? Is there any other instance of a people deciding not to eat pig meat?”

“I know of no other instance,” said the witness, “and I cannot speak for the motivation of the early Israelites. They may have felt that abstaining from pig meat would make them stand out among their neighbors. Who knows? They may have considered abstinence from pig meat a sign of distinction.”

Dexter turned to the judge. “Your honor, I have no patience for all this wiggling and waggling, and I’m sure the jury doesn’t either. I have no more questions for this witness. Instead, I’ll call my rebuttal witness right now.”

Calabrese was on his feet. “Objection, your honor.”

“To what do you object?” said Dexter. “My remarks about your witness? I withdraw them. Enough time has been wasted. Let’s get on to some serious business.”

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195 Responses to Eating Habits – excerpt from the forthcoming “The Bible Trial”

  1. Arkenaten says:

    .. the exodus and conquest take place exactly when the Bible claims they took place,

    What Exodus? There is no evidence of 2 million people turning up on the doorstep of Canaan.

    And let’s just say for argument’s sake they had turned up. Are you then going to pursue this nonsense with further claims that Yahweh was instrumental parting the bloody Red Sea, and dropping manna and quails for the gods’ sake?
    How about calling an octogenarian up a damn mountain to chisel out a set of Life Codes?

    Truly, this s beyond absurd. You are living in a fantasy that has caused more trouble and more heartache
    anyone deserves.
    It’s time to grow up and stop behaving like a whining child and get a serious life.

    • Arkenaten This excerpt sets forth an argument (the eating habits of the “arrivals”) that the minimalists have a problem accounting for. Searching for truth is all about trying to consider the facts to the best of our abilities. The Life Codes that you ridicule did not bring heartache and trouble – but it brought civilization and fairness. Western society moved closer to justice when they began breaking the shackles of Church thinking and moved towards the simple monotheism and morality of Moses Ten Commandments.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Versions of the Ten Commandments were around before your make believe god served them up to your make believe desert wanderer.
        I am sure you are perfectly aware of this so why try and sham an answer as if you are dealing with some one who has not researched this?

        So, once again, Moses is a narrative construct. A myth.

        Which part of this are you struggling to come to terms with?

  2. Dina says:


    • Arkenaten says:

      Please, Dina, don’t sit on the sidelines; feel free to interject.

      • Dina says:

        Way too busy, maybe later, maybe after the holidays. Thanks.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Well, if you get chance research the Code of Hammurabi.
          I am sure you will find it an eye-opener.

          • jasonannelise says:

            The comparison is very compelling, but Judaism’s answer is not impossible:

          • Arkenaten says:

            Not impossible?
            Neither is walking on water or rising from the dead, or the Red Sea Parting or myriad other things I guess.
            Depends how credulous one is I suppose.

          • jasonannelise says:

            No, it depends on what other reasons one has for believing, or not, in the claims. You offered this as conclusive proof against, but it isn’t quite that. There’s a relevant difference.

          • Arkenaten says:

            I never used the word proof.
            The evidence weighs heavily against any Jewish first claim. And if one wishes to believe they do have first claim then one still has to factor in the nonsense of an octogenarian multiple murderer with a speech impediment going up a mountain for a meeting with a Johnny -come-lately Canaanite deity.
            Best of luck with that!
            I’ll stick with Hammurabi if it’s all the same with you?

          • larryb says:

            thanks for the link!

          • jasonannelise says:

            The difference with Israel’s God is categorical: not merely a power within nature but the very sustainer of all existence. There is no comparison, even if they used local terminology to relate to Him.

            I was thinking about your code and I don’t think you even need to explain it as derived from Noachide law. When God gives people a law, isn’t He going to do it in familiar code type language? And isn’t Torah frequently found appropriating ANE cultural elements in order to highlight a new and contrasting concept? To me, the real trouble with the laws that seem borrowed is that some seem unjust in terms of social class and the worry of an individual… But that is rightly considered a different topic and question.

          • Arkenaten says:

            I am getting a little confused by what you are trying to assert.
            You use the capital ‘H’ (Him) and ‘G'( God) when referring to Yahweh, so think it best if you tell me if you actually believe in this deity before I reply to any further comments?

          • jasonannelise says:

            Why not reply to my ideas purely on their own merit without assuming to grasp and challenge my whole perspective? You might assume things that i never believed are a part of it. You’re right that I was giving two sides of consideration though 🙂

          • Arkenaten says:

            Because your baseline premise will influence your replies and you appear to be indulging in a little ambiguity. Apologies if this is not the case.
            So, could you please clarify for me?

          • jasonannelise says:

            I believe in the Creator of all things relating to us in the way Jews have been saying. I’m less sure about the giving of Torah from Him but I do take the thought very seriously.

            It’s hard to stay strictly on topic when arguing a person’s paradigm rather than individual statements, but you have a fair point 🙂

          • Arkenaten says:

            And , sadly, this is where all your carefully couched arguments get flushed down the crapper.
            The Jewish god is Yahweh. You will find this post-Canaanite meglomaniacal egotistical SOB of a deity lurking among the pages of the Torah.

            I am sorry break this to you on an open forum like this but he is not real.
            He was made up.

          • jasonannelise says:

            No, it feels like you aren’t listening at all. It’s nonsense to say “He isn’t real” when I just said I believe in the bedrock of existence. You could argue “isn’t interested in human affairs,” “didn’t reveal a moral code,” “isn’t listening to prayer,” or something and then we would have something to talk about. But what you said instead is a contradiction in terms.

            It feels like the emotion protecting your beliefs is not very respectful of the nuances of anything you haven’t personally thought about before. Either you know absolutely everything about every perspective, or you’re in danger of overly stereotyped thought. Even if you are right, no one will listen to you until they first feel their view has been understood and humbly pondered in fullness. If you are also an artist, you are painting with too broad a brush.

          • jasonannelise says:

            Worth, not worry

  3. Do you have a view regarding vegetarianism and Judaism? A number of Chief Rabbis have advocated that a vegetarian diet fits well with Jewish teachings.

  4. Fred says:

    Roughseas, If I may. There are a growing number of vegetarians among Jewish people, especially in Israel. In Genesis, God originally gave a vegetarian diet, but modified it to allow for changing world conditions. I was vegetarian for many years and only recently gave it up in order to simplify my, and my daughter’s, lifestyle. It can be a pain for others when someone insists on vegetarianism at family functions, office outings, etc. Also, as a single dad I am not the best chef in the world and it takes thought and dedication ( and money! ) to prepare healthy and balanced veggie meals.

    • Fred, I missed this as you didn’t do a direct reply, and I have been offline for a while.

      I hardly think the changing conditions of X thousands of years ago were the same as today. Was it because the supermarkets in whenever BC (E) were suddenly full of prepacked meat?

      I’m not entirely sure how giving up a vegetarian diet simplifies a lifestyle, more like convenience. And, does convenience take precedence over original biblical law?


      It can be a pain for others when someone insists on vegetarianism at family functions, office outings, etc

      Wow! Just wow. Have you tried eating a meal when the only offerings are wilting lettuce leaves that garnished everything else? Do you have any idea what it is like to be regarded as a ‘pain’?

      Thank you for that quote. I’ll use it. That is bigoted, biased and discriminatory.

      It’s unfortunate you are unable to think about preparing vegetarian food. Oddly enough plenty of poor people manage that. Without money.

      Tell me Fred, what do poor people live on? Fillet steak?

      • Dina says:

        Hi Rough,

        I can’t answer for Fred, but I understood his comment completely differently. I understood him to say that a vegetarian diet fits a lot of Orthodox people’s lifestyle but it didn’t fit for him. I understood him to say that he didn’t want to impose on others but I did not at all sense that he was judging those who made a different choice. Maybe I read him wrong, but just sayin’…

        Lots of Orthodox Jews are indeed vegetarians. I hope that answers your question.

        • Fred says:

          You nailed it, Dina. I was vegetarian for years ( even vegan for about 5) and was often reminded of how much work and inconvenience my diet added to everyone else’s lives: My office having to order vegetarian pizza for one person for a party, relatives refusing to come for Thanksgiving because I did not make turkey, etc.

          This is why I find conversations with atheists a waste of time. They are determined to misunderstand, slander and accuse. Many of them are just horrible and hurtful. You want to talk to these losers, then go ahead.
          I am a single parent of a young lady with autism,which is a ton of work, I work full time and am going through conversion. My plate is too full to waste my time talking to jerks. That is why Ark and Arch brag about “having gotten away with” so much of what they have said to me. As a new Jew I am becoming acquainted with L’Shon Harah. And it is something I am trying to avoid.


          • Dina says:

            Kol hakavod, Fred! Have a gut Yom Tov.

          • What on earth is difficult about ordering a vegetarian pizza? You are having me on. What would you do with someone who had health related dietary requirements? Refuse to cater because it was inconvenient? My parents would neither come to me, nor cater for me. My mother-in-law did and so do my friends. None of them have told me how inconvenient I am and continue to ask me to stay knowing full well that I’m vegetarian. And, you obviously mix in different circles to me, because in 9/10 cases the veg food always goes first, eaten by non-veggies, and especially on planes.

            Horrible and hurtful? What is horrible and hurtful about choosing a vegetarian diet and being able to eat within my choice? However, calling people ‘losers’ and saying they are determined to ‘misunderstand, slander and accuse’ seems pretty hurtful, horrible and let’s add, judgemental. Oh, jerks. That’s accusatory and derisory too. Quite frankly, you are rude, dismissive and discourteous, which is not what I find my Jewish neighbours to be. Perhaps your conversion may include a little respect and tolerance at some time.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Strange, your friends Ark and Arch ( who that was primarily describing) have done far worse to us

            Far worse? Us
            Worse than what?
            Are you actually whining Fred, because someone criticized your blatant ignorance and hypocrisy?

            Here , have a hanky. Now blow your nose and stop sniveling.

        • I think like many aspects of religion, it’s one rule for some and a different one for others. There are vegetarian Buddhists and non-veg Buddhists. Whatever suits. However, to say that being vegetarian is a pain for others is pretty insulting and inconsiderate. And Fred’s reply about ordering a vegetarian pizza being inconvenient is just crass.

          And it is not expensive to be vegetarian. People seem to become very defensive ie offensive when it comes to justifying why they eat meat. There is no need. It’s down to choice. Why not just say that?

          • jasonannelise says:

            He got the feeling that people were getting inconvenienced. Truth be told I used to not eat any animal products that I thought were cruelly farmed even at other people’s houses and I got the feeling that people felt judged. This made me choose not to be stringent about it in others’ homes because such a small amount wouldn’t make a practical difference to farming quotas anyway. I’m in the position of going from Christianity into the Jewish community (with questions) and I have to try hard not to let old friends or new friends feel judged… That’s just how it is for me.

            So maybe that sort of thing plays in to it. It’s very personal an experience.

          • If everyone said, about any topic at all, and I’ve heard it lots of times, that ‘what I do doesn’t matter, it’s insignificant’ to paraphrase you, then nothing would ever change.

            We ate meat at my parents’ house until we ‘came out’. It wasn’t easy. But I think feeling the odd person out and that we are inconveniencing others suggests a lack of conviction in ourselves. That can apply to anything, religion, diet, sexuality.

            As I said, maybe it’s who we mix with. I’ve never felt my friends felt inconvenienced, why would they ask me to dinner if they did?

          • jasonannelise says:

            A lot of my friends are mums of young kids who are doing their best to get through each day. Perhaps feeling judged by people who do things differently kind of goes with the territory. But I would say that my insecurity plays into it too, as well as fear of being categorised and not taken seriously.

            And how big a deal you end up making over cage eggs, which is in all kinds of breads, dips, etc. in tiny amounts… I feel like when people are struggling to get by they don’t need to feel like their guests think they are practising especial cruelty when in reality lots of my own non-food purchases are worse in tend of human labour and I don’t even know which…

            It’s different for everyone.

          • And at my end, my neighbours are pensioners, or unemployed adults, who are also struggling. The blunt truth is though, in Spain at any rate, a non-meat diet is cheaper. It may be different in your country.
            Insecurity, stereotyping do play their part. My partner’s been victimised for being vegetarian (real men eat meat, vegetarians are gay etc boring etc).
            I think when you say eggs are in everything, bread, dips, in tiny amounts, says it all. I don’t buy dips. I’m making pizza for lunch (flour, water, yeast, olive oil). When we buy bread, we try and buy it with similar ingredients.
            As for ethical consumerism, slave labour, environmental damage, nuclear weapons, you can check all that out if you are interested. Different topic though, so I’ll not go further.

          • jasonannelise says:

            I think you’re doing a great thing and you may be right that ethical consumption of important not only in your own home but everywhere, somehow making a public statement but also trying not to appear judgmental. I feel like that’s the thing with so many issues, trying to be sensitive to it is a lifelong challenge.

          • We all make our choices in life. Or maybe not, but for me I try and live by a certain set of values, that basically don’t harm, or cause minimal damage to other people, animals and the environment. I have a minimalist lifestyle. I accept its not for everyone. It’s a matter of choice. It is possible though.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, I hear what you’re saying. I think it’s possible for people to have different experiences with it, though. Here in the U.S. a vegetarian diet can be cheaper than a non-vegetarian diet if you don’t buy prepared food and snacks. The vegan convenience foods are more expensive than their non-vegetarian counterparts. I imagine that this could be difficult, for, say, a single working mom who has limited time to cook dinner and to bake granola bars for her kids’ lunch boxes. I agree it comes down to choice, though.

            Interestingly, in the U.S., 50% of Jews are vegetarian.

          • I think any diet is cheaper if you don’t buy prepared food. That prep needs to be paid for. I can’t imagine being a single working mum, but as a working woman I still cooked the evening meal, and usually threw a loaf of bread together. I was younger then 😀

            My partner was working for some Jewish clients and the daughter was eating Tivoli veg food. She didn’t even regard it as veg, what was important was that it was kosher. Different perspectives again. 50% is a high percentage that because of strict orthodox practice or what? No idea what it’s like here and I’d feel intrusive asking.

          • Dina says:

            I think it’s because the overwhelming majority of Jews in the U.S. are secular, actually.

          • You mean the strict ones aren’t vegetarian?

          • Dina says:

            Some are, but Orthodox Jews tend not to be. I have an Orthodox Jewish friend who’s vegetarian, but it’s not so common for Orthodox Jews. One can be if one wants to; it’s not against the rules :).

          • Fred says:

            >>>>>>>What on earth is difficult about ordering a vegetarian pizza? You are having me on.<<<<>>>>Horrible and hurtful? What is horrible and hurtful about choosing a vegetarian diet and being able to eat within my choice? <<<<>>>>>>>>>>Thank you for that quote. I’ll use it. That is bigoted, biased and discriminatory.<<<>>>>>>>However, calling people ‘losers’ and saying they are determined to ‘misunderstand, slander and accuse’ <<<<

            Strange, your friends Ark and Arch ( who that was primarily describing) have done far worse to us and I have not seen a single word spoken by you against them. Maybe I missed that?
            But with that said, I should not have used that word. It is my nature to fight fire with fire, which is something I am working on. Accept my apology for my part.

      • Fred says:

        I am not sure why only part of my post posted. Please ignore the above post, since it has no context and is only a small part of what I actually wrote. Do read the bottom paragraph, but ignore the rest that is above it.


          • What Ark and Arch say is up to them. Not my business. Nor should you assume they are my friends. I don’t necessarily even read their comments. And, I’m mindful that the comment policy here is to keep on topic, so, I’m not going to read what they say just to cause controversy. This was called, ‘Eating habits’ yes? So that’s what I’m addressing,

            No need, but it’s accepted anyway. Over and done with.

          • Fred says:

            Now in response to the other issues. Everything I wrote, I wrote AS a vegetarian of almost 15 years, and vegan for 8 of those. As you suggested, my circle is not yours. I live in a small rural town, work in the trucking industry and have relatives who are not only not supportive of vegetarianism, but manipulate my child into thinking it is wrong. Any time an accommodation was made for us I was reminded of it to no end. The business I work for buys pizza for the crew on every birthday (that’s a lot of za!) and they make no secret of how they are inconvenienced by my “special needs”, being as how I already do not work Saturdays. Interestingly enough, it seems little has changed. Now they roll their eyes because I still do not eat pork.

            Now, as a single dad, full time housekeeper and full time diesel tech with a kitchen the size of a phone booth, I have very little time to cook up a gourmet vegetarian meal, and as such our veggie diet contained many sodium-soaked meat analogues and way too much cheese, which is less healthy than a wild caught salmon steak or a boneless chicken breast. But that is what you get when you buy frozen entrees and processed boxed meals. When I was married to a vegetarian wife who could cook and had the time to, we ate healthy and delicious veggie meals with no problem.

            In other words, I was not attacking vegetarians in any way. I was lamenting and expressing the fact that in the totality of what is my life, I concluded vegetarianism was a complicated war I no longer wanted to fight. I have no problem whatsoever accommodating a vegetarian, which seemed to be the “beef” ( couldn’t resist ) you had with my original post. I do not say or do any of this because I was “looking for an excuse to eat meat”. I went without it for years and did not miss it. This was a seriously considered decision/compromise I made in the best interest of all involved.

            I hope this helps.

          • Thanks Fred. That’s the problem with the Internet, we write briefly and succinctly and then we all get the wrong end of the stick! I’m sorry your employers single you out. I suppose whether you are vegetarian or Jewish, you are a minority so therefore ripe to be targeted. My partner went on a works Christmas meal and was assured they catered for vegetarians. His meal consisted of roast potatoes, chips and boiled potatoes. His ‘colleagues’ hid sausages in his pockets. Too funny for words. *sarcasm* After nearly 30 years though, it’s water off a ducks back. I no longer cook gourmet meals, but we don’t eat out of boxes, for example I made pizza yesterday and lasagna the day before.
            Different people, and very different situations. Enjoy Sukkot.

  5. jasonannelise says:

    The points about the influx of people into Canaan at the time and the unique elements of Israelite sites are really great.

    How does the traditional Jewish dating mesh with the destruction of the Second Temple?

    Also I think your evidence shows that the law existed back then but not that the Torah was actually written by then as a whole. In my opinion a later authorship for Torah than Moshe’s day gels better with the biblical text in that it mentions documents being compiled into itself and also speaks about the days when the original inhabitants were still there (implying that things changed since). To me this doesn’t disprove the giving of the law and covenant, nor the halachic authority of the rabbis.

    Just hypothetically, the laws of kashrut could conceivably been developed in the same spirit as other cleanliness/separation laws in one setting, and then accepted along with the rest of the Levites’ ideas as their religion spread of its own appeal. History is too intricate and unexpected to simply say that is too unlikely.

    Thanks for pointing out the ideas I mentioned first… I hadn’t heard them before and to me they speak loudly!

    • jasonannelise The point of this post was just to present a facet of evidence that the minimalists are not so comfortable with – not to prove every last detail. The minimalists would not like your theory because they want a late composition for the Law not only a late authorship for the book

      • Arkenaten says:

        It is not only the unverifiable evidence you wish minimalists to accept but the way this evidence was delivered; not least by a Canaanite deity atop a bloody mountain.

        I think this is pushing the realms of credulity even for one as indoctrinated as you,don’t you think?
        Or maybe you simply don’t?
        You tell me?

        • jasonannelise says:

          Israel’s God is portrayed in Canaanite terms but with a distinct difference…

        • Arkenaten Who said that I want you to accept anything? if you are here on this blog – I will present you with what evidence that I am able to and I would enjoy hearing your logical arguments

          • Arkenaten says:

            So if an argument were presented that clearly refuted the Exodus and all it entailed you would accept it would you?

          • Arkenaten If when all the evidence is considered – my sense of honesty would tell me that that is the truth – Yes. The God of truth never demands that we follow anything but our sensitivity to truth

          • Arkenaten says:

            So therefore you consider your ”sensitivity” has more merit that virtually the entire global archaeological and academic corpus?

            Er ….

            I would venture that your ”sensitivity” is akin to delusion and wishful thinking largely as a result of religious indoctrination and emotional instability.
            That’s a nonprofessional assessment , of course, but it is either that or something similar or you are lying through your teeth?

            And when you say god of truth, which god are you referring to ?

          • jasonannelise says:

            You’re not working with the fact that Creator God and natural gods are completely different concepts. Though you do seem hostile towards the Israelites faith precisely because you think its object of worship is a redressed tribal deity rather than one that transcends nature. In that case, you are missing the central theme scattered through all parts of the text!

            By judging the motives of the authors or redactors and assuming the processes through which their imagination went, you deny the final text its intended meaning and appear tone deaf.

  6. Fred says:

    >>>>>>I would venture that your ”sensitivity” is akin to delusion and wishful thinking largely as a result of [anti]religious indoctrination and emotional instability.<<<<

    Odd, I was thinking the same about you. 🙂

  7. Fred says:

    >>>>>You’re not working with the fact that Creator God and natural gods are completely different concepts. Though you do seem hostile towards the Israelites faith precisely because you think its object of worship is a redressed tribal deity rather than one that transcends nature. In that case, you are missing the central theme scattered through all parts of the text!

    By judging the motives of the authors or redactors and assuming the processes through which their imagination went, you deny the final text its intended meaning and appear tone deaf.<<<<<<<

    Very succinctly put! Thanks for addressing the the primary issue.

  8. Arkenaten says:

    By judging the motives of the authors or redactors and assuming the processes through which their imagination went, you deny the final text its intended meaning and appear tone deaf.

    Actually, as a musician, I have a pretty good ear as a matter of fact and I can spot a theological song and dance routine from a considerable distance. Although the Jews have had longer to practice,the Christians are better, by the way.- or certainly more creative with their delusional theater of dreams.
    Oh, an my sense of smell is also well-developed especially when it comes to bullshit.

    And you aren’t fooling anyone. Nice try though. 🙂

    • jasonannelise says:

      Do you consider yourself to be describing the claims of this text or of previous versions/traditions?

      And do you understand that symbolism from one context can be used in another entirely, either for description or for contrast? Everyone knows the storytellers of Torah were Ancient Near Eastern in their background and it would be odd not to find that reflected in their way of telling.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Are you trying to make a case for the Canaanite/Jewish creator god, Yahweh or simply intent on philosophical obfuscation?

        I’m beginning to wonder if indeed you know what point you are trying to make?
        You are certainly confusing me.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Let me be blunt. You seem to be defending a make believe god who you consider is the Creator of the Universe as related to the Jews via the Torah.

        If this is case you are an idiot.

        • jasonannelise says:


          • Arkenaten says:

            You’re very welcome.

            I enjoy stimulating, thoughtful discussion as much as the next person, but I realise that from time to time I have to lower the bar and play to those in the cheap seats.

            *Shrug* What can one do?

          • jasonannelise says:

            You can talk to whomever you like, it’s your choice to talk with others who see differently 🙂

          • Arkenaten says:

            Agreed. Though it would be much nicer and more peaceful if people didn’t have a worldview that was based on a god, don’t you think?
            I doubt either of us would countenance a religion that tried to resurrect Quetzalcoatl, yet people ( you?) still cling to a made-up god that was supposedly responsible for the liquidation of almost the entire human race – save for one soon to be incestuous family.
            When you look at it like this, Quetzalcoatl doesn’t seem so bad, does he?

          • jasonannelise says:

            I just feel like name calling is a controlling way of belittling someone to assert dominance. If that’s where the conversation is at then I don’t think I will be heard, not an I obliged to play along for your sense of enjoyment out security. Forgive me if I misunderstood your tone though.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Well, as you have been somewhat ambiguous with the way you have presented you ”argument” it became very frustrating.
            There is nothing intelligent about trying to present an ”intelligent argument” that incorporates a meglomaniacal deity like Yahweh.

            Forgive me if this is not the case, and if not you could always drop the erudition and simply do ”plain speak”?

          • jasonannelise says:

            Sorry for typos, autotype

          • jasonannelise says:

            If I thought I were resurrecting a preferred fantasy then I’d be admitting to self-delusion.

            I count myself and my world as finite, given the traversable amount of time that has passed till now, and the variegated nature of existence. So my humble human response to non-self-reliance is gratitude and a sense of being known by what is bigger than my mind and in fact caused it to be. I see this as very defining of who I am and what everything is, rightly seen. So the resonant insistence of the same point embedded within Jewish history and, yes, Israelites’ scriptures, catches my eye. From there I look at the evidence brought to call it impossible and I don’t judge it to be without potential explanation, if true. I obviously read the inclusion of certain symbols as having a different function to how you see them. And as to the conquests, they sicken me however the claim is that they were not borne of imperialism, nor religious extremism, but a holiness-based commandment that is really private business between the deity and the nations involved. I’m not sure if I can buy that either, but at the very least I try to characterise it as what is claimed while I consider it. To do otherwise would be prejudice, bias, and not at all rational pondering.

          • jasonannelise says:

            I’m just not sure why it has to be about me rather than about individual ideas. Isn’t proper consideration of a thought system done part-by-part?

          • jasonannelise says:

            Also, you are responding to my ideas with your own ideas but not with considered answers to mind. Either you didn’t think about them or you thought them irrelevant.

          • jasonannelise says:


          • larryb says:

            thats his opinion. These guys have an agenda.
            just look around and see who they pal around with.

          • jasonannelise says:

            I spent too much time on this conversation. The very first comment shows not only skepticism with miracles, which would be right, but prejudice against their possibility… That isn’t very empiricist and makes for a circular conversation. And when I put thought into wording my perspective it was brushed off as vague erudition. I don’t like to be insulting but it is hard to comment gently on the open hostility and refusal to move understanding into any new nuance.

  9. Jim says:

    Imagine this scenario: A man has never seen a komodo dragon. He hears someone talking about one and he scoffs. He tells the fellow that there are no such things as dragons. Dragons are the products of fertile imaginations in a credulous age. Modern man knows no such myths. Of course, we know that there are such things as komodo dragons. The gentleman in question has made an error. He has not recognized that the word “dragon” in this instance is not referring to a flying, fire-breathing creature of fiction. The atheist makes a similar mistake when he says that if the gods of Greek, Egyptian, or Babylonian myth can be dismissed, so can the God of Torah, because the concepts are not the same; the word “god” is being used homonymously.

    For ease of writing, we shall call the gods of these other societies by the term “pagan gods”. The pagan gods were not transcendent beings. They were themselves created. They were subject to change. They had needs and desires. They were not the authors of the world but a part of it. They were subject to fate. They were embodied. They were subject to their passions.

    On the other hand, the God of Torah is defined as none of these things. He is transcendent, existing outside of space and time. Not a part of the world, He is its
    Author. Even the matter from which the world is fashioned exists according to His will. He has no body, no needs, and no desires; He is perfect. He is not moved by passion or desire.

    So, when we declare that the pagan gods are not real, this has no relevance to the question whether or not the God of the Torah is actually existent or not. The word “god” may be employed to both the pagan gods and the God of Torah, but it is a homonym. These are really two different terms with two radically different meanings. The witticism employed by atheists that the monotheists eliminated most of the gods, and the atheist is only eliminating one more is an error. He might as well have said that by denying the existence of the komodo dragon, he has only denied the existence of one more dragon than the majority of humanity does. Denying the existence of powerful but non-transcendent beings does not weigh on the question of the existence of a transcendent being, despite the employment of the same sound and spelling for both.

    • jasonannelise says:

      The difference is that God in Torah is portrayed with the symbols of deity and supernatural majesty that come from the culture surrounding the Israelites, and sometimes He is spoken of as having very human emotions and intentions just like the gods are. But this is probably not so surprising given that people will always describe things in a way familiar to them. The very interesting part is how the old images are transformed in order to upturn them… This begins as early as Genesis 1, where the pagan image of gods building the world through struggle between themselves is replaced by God merely speaking over chaos and forming all those powers Himself, in a complete week. We also see care bring taken to show that what would look like a deity’s incarnation in pagan myth is actually labeled as an angel/messenger.

    • tildeb says:

      He is transcendent, existing outside of space and time.

      Jim, this is a very convenient way to avoid having to base this belief on any evidence from reality. But it is a fatal approach to having any means at your disposal to know anything whatsoever about the object/agency being described.

      My criticism is that if something, some object that supposedly exists or causal agency in our space and time, is outside of space and time, then what you are in fact proposing is that you can know absolutely nothing about it. And the way to demonstrate this to yourself is to answer the question, “How can I know anything about this?” If you take a moment, you’ll soon realize you’ve cut yourself off from any means from reality to answer that ‘How’ question and dismissed any need for evidence from either space or time. You are left solely and wholly with a faith-based belief severed from the reality we share… so stating stuff about such an object/agency as if reasonable and possible shows that your belief is plainly and clearly devoid of any means to gather knowledge about it.

      So, sure, your god can be outside of space and time, exempt from needing any compelling evidence from the reality we share, but that means YOU need to recognize that it is entirely a faith-based belief – without any basis of knowledge from reality whatsoever. Presenting such claims as I have quoted from you as if knowledgeable from examining reality is therefore deeply dishonest. What you are presenting requires you to qualify such a statement as your faith-based belief alone and not from reality and stop pretending that it is or even can be adduced from it. You have made that impossible. Your belief is simply a belief that you won’t allow reality to arbitrate so, to be fair and honest with readers, you shouldn’t pretend this detached-from-reality belief is anything other than a detached-from-reality belief.

      • Jim says:


        You have misunderstood my point. I made no argument to attempt to prove that the God of Torah exists. I did not say that one should believe in Him or not. I never addressed that point, nor how one should address it. That is a separate consideration from the point I am making.

        The point I am making is that a separate argument for or against His existence will be necessary from that which dismisses pagan gods. So when someone makes a comment that the God of Torah is just another god to be dismissed on the same grounds as the pagan gods, he is in error. For some atheists, if one god, such as Zeus, can be dismissed, then one must dismiss all gods. I argue that such logic is profoundly wrong because denying the existence of the limited pagan god does not address a transcendent God.

        This might seem like hair-splitting, but it is not. The implication by some atheists is that if one embraces a god but rejects another, he is a hypocrite. If he rejects one god, then he must reject all others on the same grounds. However, since they are not really the same thing, they cannot be rejected on the same grounds. Therefore, no hypocrisy exists in the one who rejects Zeus but affirms the God of Torah.

        This is true, even if one is in error about the God of Torah. Let us assume that no god exists, but Abraham accepts the God of Torah. Abraham has made an error if that is the case. But it does not mean that he is fundamentally dishonest because he accepted a transcendent god but rejected the pagan gods. He would be fundamentally dishonest if he accepted Poseidon but not Zeus on logical grounds, because the argument for the existence of one is fundamentally the same as that for the other. But this does not apply to the God of the Torah. Therefore, he can be in error without being dishonest.


        • Jim says:

          A quick note:

          One might think from my comments above that I believe that it is an error to believe in the God of Torah. This is not so. But I have not presented any reasons why it is reasonable to believe in the God of Torah, because that is a separate question.


        • tildeb says:

          I argue that such logic is profoundly wrong because denying the existence of the limited pagan god does not address a transcendent God.

          Yes, I understand the larger point you’re making. What I’m saying is that it is dishonest to present a transcendent god as qualitatively different and therefore of a special category compared to ‘pagan’ gods. They are all faith-based beliefs imposed on reality and not adduced from it. In this way, all are the same: knowledge-devoid beliefs.

          • Jim says:


            Of course a transcendent God and a pagan god differ qualitatively. They are two entirely different concepts. What you mean is that the means for accepting them are not qualitatively different. On this point, you are also mistaken.

            There are good reasons, not mere faith, for believing that there is a transcendent God. There are good reasons, also, to believe that such a God is not a disinterested deistic god, as well. Similarly, there are good reasons for denying the existence of pagan gods. The arguments for one are not the same as for the other and must be tested independently of the other.

            Certainly, I know that some religions rest only on faith. Christians have made statements that one can only believe in Jesus if God grants him faith. Some have said that they believe in Christianity in spite of and even because of its absurdity. However, belief in the God of Torah is not so constructed. It rests on reason. And even if the reasoner is in error, he does not rely upon mere faith.


          • tildeb says:

            There are good reasons, not mere faith, for believing that there is a transcendent God. There are good reasons, also, to believe that such a God is not a disinterested deistic god, as well. Similarly, there are good reasons for denying the existence of pagan gods.

            I agree that there are different reasons but because all of them fail to offer .compelling reasons adduced from reality and therefore (relatively) objectively empowered (rather than subjectively empowered), all are equivalently faith-based. To demonstrate the truth value of this claim, consider two unimpeachable approaches: the evidence for a specific creative divine agency… independent of personal belief, personal attributions, personal assumptions, personal assignments, personal testimony, personal revelation, and just how diffuse are the claims about this supposed agency themselves… as demonstrated by this chart. The reasons offered after the removal of the subjective for any and all simply are not compelling. That’s why all rely on metaphysics and doctrine: two approaches the negate reality’s say in the matter.

          • tildeb
            The argument of intelligent design is an argument based on the observing of reality. Evolution provides no answer for this argument.
            BTW – The chart that you have provided was written by someone who knows very little about a given subject (at least as it relates to Judaism) and does not see his/her lack of knowledge as a reason not to disseminate.

          • tildeb says:

            ypf, you say The argument of intelligent design is an argument based on the observing of reality. Evolution provides no answer for this argument.

            As an explanation (which is what a theory is) for how life has come to be, ID is pure creationism. Evolution most certainly does provide just such an explanation along with the mechanisms by which life gains the appearance of design. Not only that, but the evolutionary explanation provides us with testable, repeatable, and falsifiable ways to help us determine how much or little confidence to place in the explanation. Based on this explanation, evolution has allowed us to create therapies, applications, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s a rather positive endorsement. Every avenue of inquiry comports with it. Another positive endorsement. The explanation has also triggered vast quantities of new knowledge that themselves are applicable and have in turn created therapies, applications, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. Again and again and at every turn, evolution is directly supported by overwhelming evidence from reality. That’s what reality is telling us. It supports the theory of evolution and it supports the usefulness and accuracy of the explanation. To drive the point home and make the issue clear, evolutionary theory is the most insightful and productive scientific explanation ever developed.


            Nothing else in science come close. In economic terms alone, evolution as an explanation has empowered trillions of dollars of profitable investments, from geology to medicine. If evolutionary theory is not true, then our understanding of how life operates is wrong. And if this is wrong, then all of the rest is wrong. All the applications, therapies and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time do so for reasons as yet unknown. The genetic understanding itself must also be wrong as is our ability to manipulate it. What you’re suggesting is ludicrous.

            This is the central point that needs to be made to people who assume evolution is somehow compatible and equitable with creationism. If evolution is not true, then creationism is not the alternative because there is zero evidence for it.


            Not a single application comports with it. No technologies are based on it. An absence of efficacious therapies reveals its paucity of value. Creationism, which is what ID is, produces zero knowledge about life and how it operates and by what mechanisms. It explains exactly nothing. It substitutes the response “I don’t know” with “…but it must have been designed by some intelligence.” This is a pseudo-explanation that explains exactly nothing.

            So when you suggest that we adduce divine design by observing reality, you’re not presenting an argument; all you’re doing is producing another claim that is factually wrong, that has absolutely nothing from reality to support it, and yet infuse the assumption with greater confidence than the very finest explanation every developed by humanity and supported by overwhelming and mutually supportive evidence from reality.

            The scope of your error cannot be over-emphasized. It reveals a staggering difference between respecting reality OR respecting a religious belief contrary to and in conflict with knowledge. What you’re doing is choosing the religious belief and then trying to sell it as if it came from observing reality. That’s simply not true.

          • tildeb I didn’t say that evolution is wrong – I said that evolution doesn’t answer the question of intelligent design. There is no question that the living matter of this world is programed fantastically – in a way that goes against the general laws of physics. Evolution is a study of that program it is not an explanation of how the program came about.

          • tildeb says:

            Yes, it does answer that question comprehensively and thoroughly.It is that thorough understanding that we then apply… to great and revealing effect. There is no ‘intelligent’ design; there is a very tiny world of local units obeying local rules and producing astounding large scale complexity. That’s why I used the term ‘appears’ in reference to design because it isn’t the case. You have been fooled by appearances, which is why one must keep in mind the words of Richard Feynman about coming at these kinds of questions about reality using the method of science rather than assumption, assertion, and attribution based only on beliefs: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” That’s the allure of religious belief, enticing people to empower their beliefs and calling it a virtue) over the method of disciplined thinking that allows reality to arbitrated beliefs about it It is a method guaranteed to fool ourselves into assuming we have some knowledge about reality because we believe we do. That’s why you have trouble differentiating a claim from an argument you presume is an explanation.

          • tildeb Fooling ourselves is something we all need to suspect that we are doing to ourselves. The purpose of an honest and respectful discussion is to help ourselves avoid that pitfall. You originally stated that the argument for creationism is not based on observable reality. This is false. In observable reality when we see design and purpose we recognize intelligence. This is an argument based on observable reality. Evolution simply explains how living beings could enhance their chances of survival. This doesn’t happen in inanimate matter. It is clear that living beings are not the author of this program which is built into their system – so evolution does not answer the question of intelligent design. Furthermore, evolution does not touch upon the design that is evident in other aspects of our world – such as winds, the rain cycle, certain laws of physics, and the interplay between the plant world and the animal/human world (beyond a very limited range on this last category).

          • tildeb says:

            It is because you see the flock as a discrete unit that you then presume directed agency. I keep telling you you’re making a mistake doing this. The flock is made up of individual local units obeying local rules that give the appearance a discrete unit that must therefore have a guiding agency and then loading this notion with the necessity for purpose and other attributes that come from you. The mistake you’re making is misunderstanding where all of this comes from. You presume the flock itself is evidence for all that you then attribute to it. The same is true for reality that you presume is evidence for design, which you then presume is evidence for some kind of intelligent designer. All of that presumption belongs to you and is not adduced from reality but imposed on it.

            You make this clear when you say In observable reality when we see design and purpose we recognize intelligence. This is an argument based on observable reality. Evolution simply explains how living beings could enhance their chances of survival.

            No. You are mistaken. You have mixed up your presumption as if it were reality. It’s not. Reality is local units obeying local rules that are entirely independent of any designing agency; they are entirely dependent on the stable properties of matter which then produces what appear to be emergent and discrete properties.

            This is why you still don’t understand evolution as it really operates: living beings are products of evolutionary mechanisms… mechanisms (local units obeying local rules) that have no guided purpose, no directing agency, no artificial meaning embedded or bestowed on them by some transcendent being. The mechanisms produce what we call life and it is the environments in which life finds itself that frames which critters have reproductive success (called fitness: offspring that themselves successful reproduce) and which ones don’t. The critters have no say in the matter. Evolution is what we call this process and there is no evidence to suggest this is guided or directed in any way other than reproductive success. The very stability of these mechanisms over time repeated through millions of generations contain absolutely no evidence anywhere we look for any interference, any sudden ‘kinds’, any creative starting points of complex organisms. Reality provides us with no compelling reasons to think or believe in some dressed up version POOF!ism of any kind at any time for any species – plant or animal. The design you think you see is a product of evolutionary mechanisms over time in the same way that flocking behaviour of starlings is a more beautiful version for us to see of local units obeying local rules just like the neurons in your brain or the cellular divisions of an ancient blood worm… a mechanism that produced the very ancestry from which you and I descend. Nobody guided this fitness of these local units obeying local rules other than the properties of matter from which they are constituted in all their stunning variety.

          • jasonannelise says:

            Tilde, evolution could not produce life and consiousness any better than it could produce energy, space-time, or physics. At best, it can stumble upon it by a fluke for practical reasons, but the potential for conscious experience (which transcends the physical) must already exist in the so-called inanimate forebears.

            It is hard to believe that so very many unlikely designs could survive in order to build that magnitude of complexity, since often the mutations must combine with stunning new survival mechanisms right from the first generation. It’s like throwing ‘heads’ millions of times in a row. It’s true that if a coin is tossed for countless years, such a combination may likely enough occur sometime. You can suspect both genuine chance and a double-headed coin. But the latter is still more likely.

            If there is a moment of initiation of varied, interactive components and their field, then I actually believe that these origins are inherently meaningful for all the rest that plays out.

          • tildeb says:

            Your incredulity is based on a very poor understanding of how evolution happens. That’s why you rely on another presumption, that It’s like throwing ‘heads’ millions of times in a row. This is a fiction you’ve been sold. True, evolution says nothing about origins (abiogenesis) but its mechanisms of how life does change over time are beyond dispute. Working from that knowledge backwards, the mechanisms are predictive and testable and have led us to great discoveries. Applied forward, these mechanisms can be tested and shown for producing remarkable adaptations that create new species. At every turn, the understanding of natural unguided, purposeless mechanisms we call ‘evolution’ works. It is against this understanding that works, that has been successfully applied in a myriad of ways to productive ends, that you stand in conflict.

            The reasoning you use here has been thoroughly explained. The ‘design’ changes for which we have overwhelming evidence in every species including your own DNA should give you pause in your presumptions because something is leading you away from this knowledge, away from understanding a central pillar of modern biology, and providing you with these kinds of empty criticisms that you presume are still meaningful, still some kind of unanswered and troubling point about evolution and against it’s factual status.

            The only thing supporting your creationist beliefs is religion. Don’t you find that odd? Everything else supports evolution because it’s demonstrably true. It’s an explanation that works for everyone everywhere all the time. It is productive in knowledge. It is productive in business. It is productive in every field of study from astronomy to zoology. Nothing from reality stands contrary to its awesome explanatory power. What stands against it is religious belief that insists it must somehow be wrong. And this is why you must use metaphysics and/or faith-based beliefs to question it. This is a clue… not about evolution on which you are willing to bet your life and those you love that it is true in modern medicine, but about the knowledge value of contrary and competing but incompatible religious belief claims. After all, you can sometimes find religious belief without creationism but you’ll never find creationism without religious belief. This is also an important clue…

          • jasonannelise says:

            Tilde, I never denied evolution happens. That said you might be right, I’m unsure of what can happen randomly (so to speak) in a universe of this size and age. For the individual caught in the grand display of the here and now, though, perhaps the coin analogy is fair. And I don’t take back my thoughts about the origin, properties, consciousness, and place of beings, and how pertinent that is to meaning in the present.

            Also, I may be religious but not in the sense of simple brainwashing. I don’t accept the religion I was brought up in (Christianity) and I’m not totally sure about Judaism, but what does most appeal to my sense of reason is creationism (not necessarily excluding evolution). In other words, it’s a belief in creation that at heart makes me remain interested in this religion at all. Many other beliefs that I was taught have no interest for me anymore.

          • tildeb says:

            Maybe this question may have some effect: if more people went along with the idea of creationism – especially for things like consciousness – do you think our knowledge about how the brain works would advance at all and have the tremendous sway it now enjoys in both psychiatry and psychology?

            Look, creationism in any form is never an explanation. It’s just another claim that explains nothing. Substituting some version of goddidit is a pseudo-answer, a stopgap measure, a tactic to avoid honest inquiry into how reality actually and demonstrably functions, by what mechanisms, processes, and forces. Goddidit is the kind of non-answer used to replace an honest “I don’t know” with “…but I’m going to pretend I do.” And that’s the problem in that such a belief takes away the impetus to inquire any further. Using that tactic, we end up with demons and spirits and mysterious punishments treated by religious rituals rather than germs and viruses and various impairments treatable by various physical and chemical interventions.

          • jasonannelise says:

            I agree that for the particular questions you’re interested in, religion is not going to give the answers.

          • jasonannelise says:

            There are many valid interests that don’t involve replicable events.

          • tildeb Creationism does provide answers about the human psyche that naturalism fails to do

          • tildeb says:

            No it doesn’t. It produces more claims. Religious belief in creationism answers nothing.

          • tildeb abiogenesis is worse off as a theory than creationism

          • tildeb says:

            The honest and most factual explanation for abiogenesis is “I don’t know.” That’s not a good reason for inserting a religiously inspired but vacuous explanation for divine POOF!ism. Let’s stick to what we know and agree that when it comes to abiogenesis neither of us knows anything. And that’s okay.

          • tildeb “I don’t know” is an honest and factual response – but saying that “I know that the answer must lie within the realm of nature” is not

          • jasonannelise says:


            You speak about the universe like a kaleidoscope. The patterns are intricate but they are not designed by the maker of the toy, they form because of the geometric repetitions of random formations. The problem is that this can only happen because of external intricacies: the space, time, physical and mathematical properties to which it is all subject, not to mention the aesthetic eye. Yet outside our physicsl universe you deny any influence upon it. Nothing is random if there are no impersonal forces or planes of existence stirring beyond it. The very nature of each generation is present in the first seed if there are no external soils, weather, or creatures adding to the equation, and that is how we must see the constant sustaining of finite existence: as a unified whole with a single source for every detail.

            It doesn’t make sense, but only in the same way that it’s inexplicable that finite things would exist, that cause and effect must start somewhere. The world is like a baby: it’s existence is dependent and speaks of its home.

            Creator or builder is not the only metaphor used for God. He is also called the place where all realms, beings, and properties exist.

            I don’t understand why the idea of that primal complexity doesn’t have any interest either. The first moment underlies the meaningfulness of the present.

          • tildeb says:

            they form because of the geometric repetitions of random formations.

            No everything forms because of gravity, a property of matter. And it’s not random. I don’t know where you keep getting this ‘random’ idea from. From the most simple and basic local units obeying the most simple and basic local rules comes everything.

            Look, things don’t have natures. This is a long discredited and ancient metaphysical notion absorbed by the early Church that is unquestionably wrong. Galileo removed this cornerstone by his simple thought experiment of the inclined plane. Much of his career was spent identifying these natural forces that only gave the appearance of hidden agencies and expressive natures of things. Aristotelian physics is what you’re repeating here, and it is factually wrong. Things don;t have natures. Agency is not required for motion. It;s not the nature of light to be seen by the eye but the brain that interprets sensory data. And the list goes on and on. First Causes, Prime Movers, the humors, the four elements, forms, the ether, music of the spheres, retrograde motion, yada, yada, yada. It’s all bunk. It’s all discredited junk ideas when it comes to understanding HOW reality operates, by what mechanisms connect effects to their causes. That’s the gift of the scientific method… a way NOT to fool ourselves by allowing reality and not our beliefs applied to it to arbitrate claims made about it.

            Asking where did gravity come from, just like what is my purpose, is the kind of question that cannot be answered except by subjective and relative pseudo-answers that supplant “I don’t know and neither do you because there is no means to know” with religio-babble equivalent in all ways to wishful and/or magical thinking.

          • tildeb You are getting bogged down in language – use the word mechanism instead of nature

          • tildeb says:

            I use the term ‘mechanism’ to mean a natural and understandable process by which something is brought about.

          • tildeb says:

            Even if a divine critter POOF!ed the first life into being, then what has been ‘created’ must be here in nature. And that makes it a scientific endeavor in this reality, n’est pas?

          • tildeb You try to come across as a scientist but your methods give you away. You postulate a flimsy theory about why those who disagree with you do so and then you build your attack on your imagination. Evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life and it doesn’t explain the origin of evolution – these are facts not theories

          • tildeb says:

            I’ve already stated that evolution does not answer the question of origins. But the explanation of how life changes over time and by what mechanisms we call ‘evolution’ is very well known. That you seem not willing to understand this explanation and why it is true is a problem you maintain and has nothing to do with my imagination.

          • tildeb And where do you see that I am “unwilling” to understand what evolution has to offer?

          • tildeb says:

            Because you have not availed yourself to The Googles and The Interwebs that is full of great sites to explain it far better than from the likes of me..

          • tildeb Google can give you all type of information – including scientific support for ID. You sound like an intelligent person – please direct me to something better than a wikipedia article written by someone who didn’t understand the statement he/she was criticizing

          • tildeb Thanks for sharing is link – when I get to the office (where I have access to the internet – here I am technologically limited and can only get my e-mails) – I hope to reciprocate

          • tildeb says:

            Both articles commit a fundamental error in the stating of the design premise, that design is caused by an intelligent agency called a designer. This factually wrong. This demonstrably wrong. This is an error of assumption that is incorrect, that does not fit reality as we know it. It is a claim that has been thoroughly debunked time and again.

            Yet here we find the same incorrect, factually wrong claims being made yet again:There are levels of design, sophistication, and functional complexity that the human mind simply refuses to accept could be accounted for by any undirected process. And functional complexity beyond a certain level (bicycle, tape recorder, computers, etc.), are always the result of intelligent purpose and intervention.

            The argument you present makes this same mistake yet assumes it to be unassailable, that design requires an intelligent agency called a designer. This is the rain dance argument that first presumes that rain (design) is evidence for a dancer (a designer). It’s not. This premise – found in both articles you offer – is factually incorrect.

          • tildeb The correlation between intelligence and design is something that is demonstrated throughout observable reality over and over again – it is not an “assumption” – perhaps you have evidence which shows that design is not always the result of intelligence – I would appreciate if you could present it or provide a link to it

          • tildeb says:

            That is EXACTLY what evolution demonstrates: no designer for all – and I mean ALL – design we find in nature!

          • tildeb Evolution demonstrates that design in nature is not immediately caused by intelligence – but it does nothing to the argument that design implies intelligence. Because the local rules of evolution are possibilities that are programed into life forms – and evolution itself does nothing to explain the origin of this wonderful and purposeful program called evolution.

          • tildeb says:

            The idea of ‘programming’ is a very poor analogy. DNA is more like a recipe that when followed produces something like a cake (no two are the same). But when ingredients are altered and added to over time (yes, ‘information’ is added by purely natural and unguided mechanistic processes of chemistry and physics) as evolution explains, then we end up with ‘design’ that is completely self-developed. When you say design implies intelligence, you have no evidence to make this assertion any more than I do when I claim my dancing implies rain. The intelligence you and many others imagine must be present to explain complexity (erroneously called ‘design’) is a claim without any – and I mean ANY – evidence from reality to link the two. The explanation offered by evolution does, and this is unguided, natural processes without any ‘intelligence’ in sight.

          • tildeb
            In order for evolution to work – DNA needed to already possess the ability to encompass many possibilities and to reproduce according to new possibilities that were only possibilities but not practical realities in the original – again take that bird feather and think about it without fearing another 9/11 (not that this is not a healthy fear)

          • tildeb says:

            That’s a bizarre way of describing the reality of how life changes over time, like saying a cake recipe must “already possess the ability to encompass many possibilities and to reproduce according to new possibilities that were only possibilities but not practical realities in the original.”

            Cakes and recipes don’t have any ‘ability’ to direct and guide changes to itself any more than DNA and RNA do, because that implies some directing agency that is simply absent.

          • tildeb Let us go back to the feather. Realize how light it is. Recognize that when you blow at it from the bottom, it resists the air but if you blow at it from on top, the air goes right through it. Look at it a bit more closely, Check out how the strands are held together with little barbs. Try to mess up the shape of the feather and then see how easily it is put back into shape. This is design. Design implies intelligence. I realize that this makes you jump out of your seat and tell me that I am blind to the progress made by science in study of the field of evolution. Please bear with me. Evolution tells us that nature will weed out the weak and will preserve those who mutated into something better and stronger. In order to believe that the feather mutated or evolved without any intelligence I would have to believe that the functionality of the feather can be broken down into tiny increments – each one of these making the proto-bird better and stronger than those who have not developed this feather fraction. I would also have to believe that the proto-bird tried out many other possibilities – such as making the first increment of developing a nose on its belly – and of-course failing to survive with those mutations. Does this make sense to you?

          • tildeb says:

            You’ve sort of got the right idea about tiny increments but you’re being mislead by thinking “Evolution tells us that nature will weed out the weak and will preserve those who mutated into something better and stronger.”

            This idea of better and stronger is a common misconception in that it seems to indicate a ‘forward’ plan.

            Evolution occurs in tiny increments by the mechanism of heritability. That means it’s about who is reproducing, what genes are being inherited, and then and having these offspring pass on their inherited genes to the next generation. Whatever can do this in numbers greater than other genes reproduced by other critters. Over time, the genes that are most successful reveal the evolutionary ‘fitness’, meaning that these genes were more successful than others.

            Note that this has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘stronger’ or ‘better’… except in the sense of greater success than genes that didn’t. Very small changes that improve a critter or plant’s ‘fitness’ – meaning reproductive success in greater numbers than others – are the ones that ‘direct’ evolution. And this process is blind in the sense that there is no guidance other than which genes obtain greater success by heritability in a population. This can be measured by what is known as allele frequencies.

            My point here is that bigger and stronger usually isn’t as ‘fit’ in this sense as much smaller and weaker critters and plants that can dominate a local environment and achieve very great reproductive success. In such populations, very small changes in a gene sequence can produce fairly rapid speciation. We have a great example of this in a fantastic experiment by Lenski involving bacteria where a single line undergoes a series of small genetic changes that suddenly combines to make it able to ‘eat’ part of the holding solution and its population explodes. Because the lines are separated, we can see exactly how this happens and there was no agency, no ‘intelligent’ design at work: for new genetic information to develop that improves fitness, all we need is for local units to obey local rules. That’s it. And from this we get speciation.

            This explain why you’re related to me, we’re related to carrots and banyan trees, and all are related to Cambrian mollusks: our genetic code reveals this linkage the same way the lines of new bacteria in Lenski’s experiment (it’s still ongoing) share a common ancestor.It explains why you and I share genetic damage in our DNA from an ancient simian virus: common ancestry.

            This explanation for how life has developed to what we have today led us to genetics, and genetics has revealed to us how local units obey local rules. Including feathers. We know feathers have had tens of millions if not hundreds to evolve to what they are today and we expect to find both tremendous differences in what we have today as well as common and basic genetic architecture. That’s exactly what we find. What you quite rightly marvel at with feathers is evolution at work and not, as it may appear, something ‘POOF!ed into existence. If it were ‘POOF!ed into existence, we would find one kind and we don’t: we find feathers honed to each environment in which we find them, serving quite different functions depending on what seems to best suit that environment. Because we understand heritability, we understand why the genes that produced these feathers had more success aiding reproduction in the wider population and how this aiding could be split to produce variations that were more successful in this environment than that. It helps explain why Antarctic penguins still have feathers and why they are such an aid in maintaining warmth while also helpful in streamlined swimming, They have nothing to do with providing both thrust and lift that flying birds use them for or for attracting a mate as the tail feathers of a peacock are used. The evidence demonstrates that what is useful about a gene’s expression that aids in reproductive success is what is kept, so to speak. Feathers can do – an do provide – all kinds of aiding. Local units obeying local rules and what is most ‘fit’ is what is passed on in greater numbers through genetic inheritance.

            Trying to impose a POOF!ism event on something like the design of a particular feather utterly fails to account for why this genetic expression – a feather of any kind but with basic architecture that makes it a feather rather than a bone – can be exquisitely crafted to serve very different functions in different environments. From a design point of view, this is incredibly stupid; there are better structures to, say, warm a critter than feathers, better structures than the hand to produce wings, better displays than carrying around a huge amount of otherwise useless feathers to attract a mate. Common ancestry explains how these differences developed over time and by what mechanism. POOF!ism does not… even when we try to hide what this means by words such as ‘intelligent design’. There’s simply no intelligence involved, no exterior guiding agency. There’s no evidence for this hypothesis and much compelling evidence against it.

            The reason why religion has a problem with evolution but not, say, gravity, isn’t because the science is any weaker. In fact, it is much stronger. The problem is that it successfully competes with a much poorer religious explanation – but a poorer one that is central to those who believe in an intervening creator. Take that plank out of religious doctrine and the necessity for some god is equivalently reduced. Religion loses market share to those who understand evolution because those who do and wish to remain religious have to alter religious doctrine to make some god more nebulous and removed than as a intervening creator. And it is definitely not a strength or even an attribute of religion to change doctrine as knowledge increases. That’s why evolution is constantly attacked by religious defenders… not because it isn’t true but because understanding evolution threatens the necessary ignorance upon which religious belief in an intervening creative designer must now hang its hat.

          • tildeb And by the way – your cake recipe analogy is irrelevant – I never said that the DNA possesses intelligence – but it possesses a program to that allows it to encompass many possibilities and reproduce according to those new possibilities. This program implies intelligence and evolution doesn’t get off the ground without it.

          • tildeb says:

            Saying DNA “possesses a program to that allows it to encompass many possibilities and reproduce according to those new possibilities” because of changes to it over time (by different physiological and unguided means) like saying a rock has “possesses a program to that allows it to encompass many possibilities and reproduce according to those new possibilities” because of changes to it over time (by different physiological and unguided means).

            You keep inserting your belief about intelligence and then make the correlate (complexity that looks like design) the causation (complexity was designed). This is a thinking error.

            What you need to do is get your belief out of the way and look at how changes to DNA actually occur that produces change over time. As soon as you do that, you quickly realize there is no evidence for any guidance, no designing feature, no guiding agency. Reality demonstrates to us time and again that changes that reduce fitness disappear over time; those that promote fitness remain. This is an ongoing mechanism that offers us absolutely no indication whatsoever of any guidance or planning or intervention. DNA is not ‘programmed’ to allow these changes. Changes that interfere with fitness heritability die out. Changes that improve fitness are inherited. That’s it. No design program.

            And evolution IS these small incremental changes over time. If you introduce the micro-macro mambo next and say, like so many misguided faitheists, that you are willing to accept micro- but not macro-evolution, I shall lose heart because it is these small changes that produce what we call evolution. Natural, unguided evolution. That’s what reality tells us is true about it.

          • Tildeb
            I have been studying this phenomena for the past few days and I thank you for bringing these questions to my attention. I would however suggest that you study how changes are made to DNA – to say that random changes in DNA produce positive effects in the gene pool that survive due to natural selection, is simply untenable. Any changes that were observed in various species were not random – just for example the famed speckled moth which changed colors with time – did the moth try out hundreds of different color variants? where are all the random mutant moths that are fluorescent pink or deep burgundy? – remember the mutation happened within a relatively short time.
            I humbly suggest that you free yourself from this unwarranted respect for science and use your own brain.

          • jasonannelise says:

            Why are no two cakes the same? Because external forces act on them differently. Yet you want to assert both that the universe is fully self contained and that it is random?

            As to morals merely describing a behaviour, if that’s your belief then you think you are above them and can do anything you want as long as it didn’t cause pain to you or destabilise the society you wish to live in. Most of us, including yourself I think, don’t at heart believe that’s the case… Although I sometimes think that our complete disregard for the suffering of creatures that we can keep it of sight for the sake of our lifestyles could show otherwise 😦 And that is not a good behaviour for us, even if it never bites us; we should feel the disconnect and wisely change as much as we can.

          • Dina says:

            Since the atheists who’ve been visiting this blog have been making moral pronouncements, I thought this would be an interesting read as well:


          • tildeb says:

            I really don’t grasp why you keep using this site a source as if it had any authority worth respecting. Far from it, in fact. the Confusion and poor if not inaccurate premises used are junk. As a case in point, Dina’s link about atheists and morality demonstrates exactly this: junk.

            Morality is a thorny issue for many reasons but mostly because the religious like to pretend that there is some overseeing, over-arching objective morality to which they have access… somehow… through their religious beliefs that atheists won’t, don’t, or can’t access. The argument is constantly put forth and then refuted that atheists are somehow impaired from holding moral values on reasonable merit of consequences independent of this supposed authority and, therefore, of lower or less quality. What this guy writes on the aish site is utter rubbish because he doesn’t even understand principled morality. Put another way, would this guy run around raping and murdering and stealing if he didn’t believe he would be punished by god for doing so? What does that say about this guy’s moral character? What’s so desperately and despicably wrong with doing good for goodness’ sake like Unicef, Doctors Without Borders, Goodwill, and so on?

            Borrowing an analogy from Harris, the standard for moral behaviour is like the standard for altitude. You don’t need an objective standard in order to measure it, to use a standard that works to a very high degree of accuracy for everyone everywhere all the time. Now, Harris received a lot of flack for suggesting human well-being as a standard because the term ‘well-being’ – like ‘flourishing’ – is rather open-ended. But so too is ‘altitude’ – like ‘elevation’and ‘height’ – and this open-ended definition for ‘altitude’ (hence the reason for the title of the book Harris wrote about morality The Moral Landscape) that is relative to some arbitrary starting point doesn’t seem to cause the airlines and meteorologists any difficulty… only moral philosophers and supporters of theology seem to find it far too unwieldy to suit their exacting standards.

            I would and have argued that those who borrow their morality from religious sources are far less responsible and more immature than those of us who own ours, who are responsible for them and their defense.It is the atheist who is morally autonomous whereas the poor religious person is kept in a state of childish dependence for moral guidance.

            Why do I say such a thing? Well, because reality fully supports my claim and stands contrary to the kind of religious junk put forth by people like the author of the aish site.

          • tildeb I did not read the linked article on morality – and I haven’t used such an argument yet – but I would want to understand how the desire for morality evolved on the basis of survival of the fittest? The religious point of view is not that we need to be moral just because there is a Divine Being who tells us to be moral – but that morality is the place where man connects with the Divine – in other words – our innate desire for morality is what sets us apart from animals and runs counter to the view of the world that only sees that which can be measured by the physical sciences Being moral is being true to your inner being – it is being who you really are

          • tildeb says:

            I would want to understand how the desire for morality evolved on the basis of survival of the fittest?

            Do you really get what ‘survival of the fittest means? If you did, I don;t think you’d ask this question.

            Morality is a behaviour, not a thing. All critters with mirror neurons demonstrate similar response behaviours we call ‘moral’. There is a biological basis for morality. Talking imaginatively about a divine and creative causal agency does not advance our understanding of these root cause of these biological behaviours one iota. Such beliefs DIVERT us from discovering what’s actually true. and supplants it with fiction. This pious urge is not respecting reality nor a means to understand it; it is a learned behaviour to avoid gaining knowledge about ourselves and the reality we share and calling this ignorance ‘good’ and ‘pious’ and a ‘virtue’. We then allow such people the right to indoctrinate and inculcate children with similar ignorance and dare to call it a religious ‘education’. Such words are easy, but they represent a behaviour by such parents that is neither ethical nor moral. Religiously inspired behaviour is just as likely to be immoral as it is moral; the difference is that atheists hold themselves to account whereas the religious pass the responsibility on to their faith-based beliefs and call it moral.

          • tildeb positing that there is a source for some of our behavior that is outside of the sphere of biology is not inherently evil – and if logic leads us there we need not fear it

          • tildeb says:

            I think we have to balance that notion against pernicious effects such a belief reliably and consistently produces when acted upon… to think it’s philosophically okay to believe on the one hand but have to live with real harm done to real people in real life when acting on that notion as if true on the other.

            I don’t think that’s a good deal but I’m not about to insist you can’t believe it is so… but I will endeavor to make it shameful to use this justification for actions undertaken in its name in the public domain.

          • tildeb
            I do not think that people become evil when the root of their belief is an honest search for truth – those who flew the planes into the towers or who behead people who think differently than themselves do not hold up following truth as the root ideal in their culture

          • tildeb says:

            I don’t either. But I think there’s much truth and far too much compelling evidence to dismiss Weinberg’s rather astute observation that “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” Not always, of course, but the correlation is robust.

          • Dina says:

            Suppose you live alone are a bit of a loner. Your only companion and best friend is your loyal and beloved dog who has been with you for years. Now imagine the following scenario: Your pet is drowning and a stranger is drowning and you can only save one of them. Who do you save, and what is the scientifically moral reasoning that leads you to your decision?

            I have no idea how you’re going to answer, just curious, and I hope you don’t mind my asking. I’ve been very busy this week so forgive me for keeping a low profile.

          • tildeb says:

            The assumption I criticize is the argument often put forth by theists that the atheist would try to save neither. I would be very surprised if this version of a trolley dilemma yielded more than a few outliers for choosing the dog.

          • Dina says:

            I was curious to know what you would say, not what others would say, and why you would say that. Will you answer the question? It’s fine if you won’t, but please let me know in that case so I will know to drop it.

          • tildeb says:

            Well, I don’t what ‘scientifically moral reasoning’ is but I would try to save the person if I could because I come biologically able to see myself in the Other and react accordingly whereas I am not able to share the same with the dog (unless I first anthropomorphize the critter).

          • Dina says:

            Tilde, sorry for taking so long to get back to you on this. I coined the term “scientific moral reasoning” in response to your assertion that all answers can be found within science. What I meant to say is, how do arrive at your answer to this moral question in a scientific way? Your answer, however, was entirely subjective and unscientific. You personally identify with human beings more than dogs because they are biologically more similar, so you personally would save the human. But if you could identify with dogs, well, then what?

            Let us say that Sam does not identify with others who are biologically similar. In fact, he hates people. That’s why he lives alone with his dog. He relates much better to his dog than to any other human he has ever met. So if for that reason he were to choose to save his dog rather than a human stranger, would that be immoral? Why or why not? How does science answer this question?

            Let us further suppose that your beloved pet is drowning and your neighbor who makes your life hell is drowning, and you can save only one of them. You would be lost without your dog, but your neighbor drives you crazy. He throws a fit if your dog puts one paw on one blade of his grass, but he allows his dog to do his business all over your lawn. He throws raucous parties till the wee hours of the morning, but he calls the police to file a complaint that you’re disturbing the peace because your phone rings too loudly. Would it be immoral to save the dog and leave this miserable excuse for a human being to his fate? Why or why not? How does science answer this question?

          • tildeb says:

            Dina you state I coined the term “scientific moral reasoning” in response to your assertion that all answers can be found within science.

            Now, I have to say that I find this annoying when you so poorly yet seemingly effortlessly interpret what I’ve actually said that is not reflective of either what I have said or what I think. To claim that I have asserted that all answers can be found within science is simply not true. I have repeatedly, clearly, and unequivocally said that I think claims made about reality require realty – and not someone’s incompatible and incoherent religious beliefs imposed on it – to arbitrate them.

            How you went from there to here is rather remarkable. So, if you replace ‘science’ with ‘reality’ then, yes, I think all ‘answers’ – meaning our informed understanding about it, what it contains, how it operates – lie within reality and not from people’s imaginative musings about the causal effects by supernatural agencies that supposedly exist ‘beyond’ it.

          • Dina says:

            Tilde, I am sorry–I had dropped out of the discussion for a while and was relying on my memory. I will take your word for it that I misrepresented your position and I apologize.

            But that doesn’t much change the questions. Instead from a scientific point of view, then answer the questions from a reality-based point of view. How does reality answer these questions?

            Thank you,

          • tildeb
            I would say that for good people to do bad things you need a society that has no respect for truth or for humanity – oftentimes religion supplies the recipe for such a society – but political movements and other idealisms have done a good job on this front as well
            As a scientist you need to find a theory that works with all the available data

          • tildeb says:

            This opinion about religious beliefs bringing benefits to society as a whole always reminds me of the analogy to the building a huge hospital on top of a school, crushing it, and then having the hospital supporters proudly pointing out how fortunate the squashed students were to have a hospital so close at hand.

            If religious belief widely held and supported by a population were good for society, and brought it benefits it might otherwise not have, then we should see this in real life. We don’t. We find a very strong negative correlate, meaning that the more religious and religiously cohesive a population is, the greater the societal dysfunction. This is a clue…

          • jasonannelise says:

            Rabbi Yisroel, even plants instinctually protect their own kind, which is beneficial for survival of the gene pool and mirrors the human empathy increases the more we have in common with the subject. Sharing is also a powerful instinct that precedes generosity and is found in many species, and it could be socially conditioned.

            That said, although the argument of morality doesn’t prove that there is a revealed code (considering how there will always be people who never heard of it, so it’s not unthinkable that it wouldn’t be given in words to anyone), I do think that the belief in objective goodness implies a relational custodian over objective reality. I’m not just talking rules and power, but the fact that someone is inherently valuable or that good exists aside from subjective pleasure indicates an inbuilt meaningfulness in nature.

          • jasonannelise I am talking about the desire for truth and the understanding that as humans we need to comply with truth – nothing biological about that

          • jasonannelise says:

            Do you think wisdom has innate survival value? Without valuing truth we render our senses useless and become helpless, foolish. Also, social narratives of what the right perpective shouls be can also be reinforced by the coersion of those who control what is calued {including a sense of belonging) so you might say these things become very ingrained ans sometimes appeal to morality while having other sources?

          • jasonannelise says:

            Sorry again abut typos, I’m holding the baby…

          • tildeb Take a bird feather – just one – not a flock of birds and tell me that you don’t see design. And in every other area of life – aside from the question of the origin of life – you recognize that design implies intelligence. Besides not providing and answer for the origin of life – evolution also does not explain all that it is called upon to explain – i.e. the path from reptile to mammal or bird is not something that evolution could cover according to what science has demonstrated about evolution

          • tildeb says:

            YPF, you state as if true that design implies intelligence. Once upon a time, it did. But now we know better. The design you see requires no intelligence and the natural, unguided mechanism for developing the design you see is very well known: local units obeying local rules.

          • tildeb Design implies intelligence – the fact that intelligence can be programed into a living being doesn’t change the simple fact we know to be true from observing reality

          • jasonannelise says:

            Tilde, hi,

            You have dismissed intelligent design without allowing it any defense, because you expect it to bring something that replicates within the physical world… When by nature it isn’t believed to be merely a physical process. What would you expect to see as an application of intelligent design if it is real? Why must it contribute to science?

            Regarding evolution, of course organisms evolve, but that explains neither the existence nor the complexity of the material world (let alone the immaterial). Things change and develop when they are acted upon by forces outside their selves. The abundance of physical properties and forms cannot merely have diversified out of a single thing if that thing was uninfluenced by anything beyond it. So evolution can’t account for the origins of diversity, it is only an observation about the trajectory things take within the intricate paths of nature. As for existence itself, nothing that exists in time exists in its own because the chain of cause and effect is not endless. If it were then this moment would not yet have emerged.

            Belief in God is, just like you say, something we can know nothing about! We can know something about His creation and, if we accept that He has revealed anything, we can know His revelations. But no one can describe the infinite, nor is He a thing among many in the cosmos. When we speak of God we are stepping into mystery, but also intimacy because our existence is sustained each moment beyond any finite existence and we are just surrendering to that with gratitude.

          • tildeb says:

            You’re right in a sense: ID doesn’t produce knowledge because it isn’t an explanation: it’s just another religious claim that is not supported by any compelling evidence from reality. That’s why it doesn’t offer us any insight into reality. Pretending this recent form of creationism is a scientific theory has been debunked repeatedly but the religious insist the claim be equivalent to a scientific theory because it sort of looks like one. The problem is that it isn’t. It cannot be tested, cannot be verified, cannot be falsified and is utterly worthless as an explanation… except to those who don;t really want one if it doesn’t support a favoured religious belief.

            Trying to make evolution about origins is another standard deflection by creationists who think if evolution has nothing to say about origins that it’s then fine and dandy to substitute some version of Oogity Boogity exercising POOF!ism as a reasonable alternative to the hypothesis of self-organizing and replicating chemicals.

            The metaphysical argument about first causes doesn’t reflect anything from reality, doesn’t point us towards a better understanding of how things have come to be as they are. These arguments start with premises that have nothing to do with describing reality but are statements that can be logically presented and then – Presto! – arrive at deduced conclusions as if these magically describe reality. They don’t. That’s why Aristotelian physics fail to explain how reality actually operates. It’s a broken methodology that assumes things have natures requiring agency. We know this isn’t true.Sticking with the form of argument that requires metaphysics is a guaranteed way to fool yourself. You can ‘prove’ anything you want to believe this way, which is very handy for religious believers, but again utterly fails to accurately describe reality. If it did, we’d have evidence of that. All we have is a significant historical record of utter failure to accomplish this task of gaining knowledge about reality. It doesn’t work.

            Your suggestion that this notion of a divine creative agency active in the universe causing effect we can know something about but is a “mystery” when it comes to actually producing insight into how reality operates is an avoidance tactic from dealing honestly with the fact that such a claim does nothing to further our understanding of how reality operates and by what causal mechanisms. The god hypothesis is a dead end. But religious folk don’t want to accept that reality either and so we get dead end notions like creationism and ID and other superstitious nonsense popping up and polluting the minds of the young to the approval of believing parents everywhere. I think that is a vice that embraces ignorance and is used to indoctrinate young minds and then dares to call it a pious virtue. Surrendering our autonomy to such despotic notion I think is the height of folly that causes ongoing yet unnecessary pernicious effects… not least of which is the rejection of available scientific knowledge. Creationism, no matter how benign or well hidden it may be, is still a doctrine antithetical to the understanding we have and utilize that accurately describes the reality we share.

          • jasonannelise says:

            Origins aren’t just about beginning of time, but pertain to all the physical structures and ‘laws’ in which all things are sustained and unified continually.

            Also, calling that a “mystery” is not an avoidance tactic but an observation!

          • tildeb says:

            The properties of matter belong to matter itself. This is why we find these properties stable over time and not because they are sustained by some external organizing agency.

            Your human-centric approach to matter reminds me very strongly of Douglas Adam’s puddle analogy and the reasoning you use similarly constrained ( “. . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’).

            We – like everything else in the universe – find ourselves subject to these properties of matter because everything is made of it. Why wouldn’t the forces they produce be the same everywhere all the time? It is the believer who then steps forward and tells us that this isn’t really so, that these properties can be altered by some divine will because they are product of it.


            And there’s the introduction of something supposedly real, supposedly causal, supposedly an agency that has no properties in this universe but creates it all and then sustains it even though it must be outside of time and transcendent to do so! Well, of course it must… to account for the lack of any evidence for it! The very stability you raise demonstrates no external and arbitrary agency supporting the properties of matter but you’ve turned this fact around in order to maintain a belief that the evidence against your claim is actually evidence for it. And that’s a nifty bit of puddle rationalization.

          • jasonannelise says:

            The idea of matter having “properties” (plural) shows the only point I was making there to be true: that evolution doesn’t account for all variety.

            We don’t think of God as a thing, like a rock or a unicorn about whose existence you can debate. When we speak of Him we just mean reality, the truest reality from which what is finite emerges and in which all fleeting or partial things are held as a part of one universe. We don’t think of anything as being truly separate from Him. We pray and consider ourselves known just because that One is the source of all that is smaller and because gratitude seems to us an appropriate response for receiving something. So it’s not that the puddle says the world was made for it, but that all things can recognise a common “existing place” and that is what we surrender our hearts to; we think that we have an intimate connection with that Place.

          • jasonannelise says:

            Also, matter doesn’t exist autonomously. You can’t say there is infinite space-time before getting to today. Also, all parts of matter, energy etc. don’t exist on their own, they are connected. While we can’t describe anything beyond, there is mystery of the kind into which I put my soul because it’s what already holds our being.

          • jasonannelise says:

            PS Do you think that all events in nature are a matter of cause and effect? You deny both metaphysics and first cause so I’m curious.

          • tildeb says:

            Do think a circle has a beginning? Well, in nature all material is in a constant state of change, constantly undergoing degradation and renewal. We have to be careful with such words as ‘beginning’ and ‘end’, ’cause’ and ‘effect’, and so on because what we really want to know is how change occurs over time. These terms muddle how reality operates but are very handy for us to come to understand specific causal links and processes and the effects they produce that are ongoing but may appear to satisfy our curiosity about how selected things start and end in specific examples.

            So, to answer your question, yes, I think cause always precedes effect but effect institutes cause. Clear as mud, right?

          • jasonannelise says:

            “Effect institutes cause”… Neither English grammar nor the scientific paradigm can support a phrase like that.

          • tildeb says:

            Yes, I could have said that better. What I mean is that the changed conditions – what we call the ‘effect’ lays the necessary groundwork for more change – what we call the ’cause’. I hope that clarifies.

          • jasonannelise says:

            Oh yep, I see what you meant.

          • LarryB says:

            You might go here
            Three of the current commenters are authore there. They are very activist.

          • tildeb says:

            Well someone has to try to respond to the vilification of non believers and challenge the spread of really poor religious ideas that cause such widespread pernicious effects. You’re not willing to be part of this solution but seem dedicated to promoting the spread of the problem. Maybe that’s why you make these efforts and explanations sound like a bad thing under the term ‘activism’.

          • tildeb This blog is dedicated to combating bad religious ideas that vilify innocent people.

          • Dina says:

            Tilde, this website is not devoted to vilifying atheists. At all. A bunch of atheists came here of their own volition and started mocking us and spewing hateful comments. The purpose of this website is to defend Judaism from Christian missionaries. So why did they come here?

          • Dina says:

            Actually four, Larry: Arkenaten (is that supposed to be Ahkenaten the Egyptian pharaoh?), John Zande, Makagutu, and Tildeb.

            I noticed that the ones who use their real names are the most polite.

          • tildeb says:

            And I’ve been rude how, Dina?

          • larryb says:

            May 16, 2014 • 7:07 pm
            “I have to disagree with you, Steve; there’s a reason New Atheism is capitalized and it isn’t because atheism is being spelled anew. As a proper noun, New Atheism isn’t a kind of New Non Belief, which is the way you are caricaturing it.
            Sure, non belief in gods or a god isn’t new. The four horsemen have never pretended otherwise. What is new is a movement to publicly challenge religious privilege whenever and wherever it can be found, to spread the word and get people thinking critically about the role religion plays in the public domain.
            New Atheism is a direct response to 9/11. We need to achieve an end to publicly respecting faith as a way to legitimize belief. This is the purpose of New Atheism, and anyone who works towards ending public respect for faith aids this movement.”
            I get a sense of what your after but what do you have to offer in return? What proof if we just believe in science that their will be no corruption?

          • larryb If I may answer for tildeb – tildeb believes (as I do) that falsehood in all of its forms is harmful for us and it is for this reason that he does what he does. I can respect him for this although I disagree with him and although he sometimes overstates his case (as I am sure I do myself without realizing it) I think we can all agree that an honest and open discussion will lead us all closer to the truth

          • tildeb says:

            what do you have to offer in return? That’s easy.

            Not only respect for reality to arbitrate claims made about it but holding beliefs for the merit of good reasons. Not only respect for Enlightenment values but a means to become autonomous and morally responsible individuals in law and social standing. Not only doing good because it helps others but respecting the need for sustainable practices in our shared environment.

            In every case, scientific and critical thinking enables a practical, responsible, and ethical response and frees the imagination to consider new and creative solutions rather than confidence in doing the same thing and expecting different results because of misplaced, misguided, and delusional trust in magical thinking and waiting for some savior to show up to save us from ourselves.

            Why, it’s almost like growing up.

          • tildeb says:

            What proof if we just believe in science that their will be no corruption?

            Although science is far from perfect, it seems to be the only one that is open to self-correction. One doesn’t believe in science the way one believes in religion; one grants a certain amount of confidence and this can shift based not on doctrine or dogma but on better explanations, better results, increased knowledge, new technologies, applications, and efficacious therapies. It is the METHOD of science that is worthy of respect and increased authority when followed with discipline. That’s why science is hard. But the reduction of gullibility and credulousness is a strong correlate to the quality of what the method produces.

            Because science is done by humans and humans are open to corrupting influences, we must always be on guard for being fooled. That’s why there’s a strong push on right now for journals not to publish until peer review and double duplication is completed. In the meantime, local rags will continue to churn out stupid headlines as click bait and create the impression that the products – no matter how ridiculous the claims may be – from scientists are equivalent to the method they are supposed to use. That’s why so many people can be relied upon to confuse these headlines with good science when they rarely are.

            We reduce corruption by more of us joining the ranks of critical thinkers and not being so credulous and gullible.

  10. jasonannelise says:

    Your opinions are presented clearly, Ark, but you aren’t giving evidence or argument. Whether or not you are right, it would be more effective to stay in the realm of discussion instead of insults.

    • Arkenaten says:

      I spent too much time on this conversation.

      And yet, here you are once again.
      Your god, ripped-off from the Canaanites, and shaped to fit the Torah, first appears as an Israelite deity in the Pentateuch, which we already know is a work of Historical Fiction. Only the indoctrinated or willfully ignorant would deny this.

      Which are you?

      Do you have any other pertinent verifiable evidence to bring to this discussion?
      If not, we will simply declare your belief is based on faith and call it a day.

      • jasonannelise says:

        I too have no interest in a conversation where you seem to show up purely to antagonise. Why should I bring up new points if you haven’t responded to the old ones and act as if I am speaking random babble?

        • jasonannelise says:

          I won’t be replying to your posts anymore unless I feel convinced that you have read and engaged with mine. I think you must be a good person in your own life with many good values, actions, and fittings, but personally I just feel trapped in an endless spiral of insults and I’d rather not subject myself to that when they aren’t substantiated.

        • Arkenaten says:

          You haven’t made any points, simply spewing nonsense.
          So … make a point already and I will respond.

  11. Fred says:

    Just took a quick scroll through the responses. Out of 165 posts, only ONE ( by jasonannelise, unless I missed one) even made mention to the article or the topic of the article. So here is a blog article written about archaeological evidence, and not a single person who insists on that kind of evidence has anything to say about it, no refutation, no agreement, nothing.

    • tildeb says:

      Ark does exactly that. And it’s questioning the validity of other comments that I have responded to. That’s what a commentary blog offers… a conversation not necessarily only about the starting point but a linked dialogue. Ark’s point remains undisputed: there is no evidence for any mass exodus.

  12. Fred says:

    >>>>Ark’s point remains undisputed: there is no evidence for any mass exodus.<<<

    Only so long as nothing that supports it is considered evidence. Cognitive dissonance.

    • Arkenaten says:

      There is , of course, evidence of gradual integration. Maybe you have heard of the term, Settlement Pattern, Fred?

    • tildeb says:

      Oh rubbish.

      Any significant migration cannot help but leave all kinds of mutually supportive physical, cultural, and linguistic evidence… all of which is missing in Toto. The only evidence supportive of the story is the religious necessity for it to have happened and the widespread belief based on that need that it must have, leading us to accepting the kind of weak rationalizations used in the post that because some populations elsewhere increased, the migration may have occurred.

      This is exactly what confirmation bias looks like in action when compared to much better contrary evidence that certain listed towns did not even exist at the time, have since produced no archaeological evidence for a massive infusion of a transitory population, that there is no linguistic influence between the ‘slave’ group and the ‘master’ group that inevitably happens in all other migrations, no absorption of certain cultural practices between them, and so on. What we find makes better sense fitting into the narrative of local knowledge used by the Pentateuch writers at a much later date trying to create an earlier story. The physical, archaeological, cultural, and linguistic discrepancies can be better explained if we approach these stories as a means by which the writers of the OT try to take disparate groups and recast their history into a ‘shared’ story that supposedly unites a scattered people. That’s where the evidence is strong and cohesive, where no cognitive dissonance is in play.

      • tildeb Perhaps you can say that you would like to have more evidence – but to say that there is no evidence is patently false. There was an influx of people into the area that the Bible said that the people moved into – these people were obviously of a different culture than the surrounding population – they did not eat pig meat – the writers of the Bible had intimate knowledge of ancient Egyptian protocol. These I mentioned in the articles posted here. I did not mention that the theory propounded by those posting here (and presented in academic circles) about a pro-Judean faction authoring the Bible is faulty for many reasons – and if you are familiar with the Bible some just jump out at you – for example Genesis 28 is a real thorn in the side of the Judeans and something that the Israelites would have invented if they could have – how did this get into the Judean Bible? Why is Joseph given all the blessings in the book of Deuteronomy if this is supposed to be a “Judean” book? – amongst several others

        • jasonannelise says:

          Also, the houses in the Israelites’ settlements are often structured quite differently. You can find Egyptian loanwords in Hebrew too, though I haven’t studied into this.

          The population increase has to have come from somewhere, whether there are a lot of traces or not. You haven’t proven it impossible.

          As to the similarities between Israelites and Canaanites, keep in mind that they were supposed to have originally come from that area; the claim is that they generally didn’t destroy the old cities but lived in them; and most of their implements were rudimentary. The Temple bears Egyptian architectural elements, though.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Citation, please.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Baruch Halpern, Professor of Jewish Studies of Pennsylvania State University. “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land.”

            ”Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,” declared famed Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University.

            Christianity Today’s Kevin D. Miller conceded: “The fact is that not one shred of direct archaeological evidence has been found for Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob or the 400-plus years the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt. The same is true for their miraculous exodus from slavery.”

            “Defending a rabbi in the 21st century for saying the Exodus story isn’t factual is like defending him for saying the Earth isn’t flat. It’s neither new nor shocking to most of us that the Earth is round or that the Torah isn’t a history book dictated to Moses by God on Mount Sinai,” espoused Rabbi Steven Leder of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

            (Rabbi David) Wolpe, importantly, was also a contributor to the Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary; the first authorised commentary on the Torah since 1936. Published in 2001 by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (in collaboration with the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Publication Society) the 1,559 page long Etz Hayim concludes with 41 essays written by prominent rabbis and scholars who admit the Pentateuch is little more than a self-serving myth rife with anachronisms and un-ignorable archeological inconsistencies, and rather than triumphant conquest, Israel instead emerged slowly and relatively peacefully out of the general Canaanite population with monotheism only appearing in the post-Exilic period, 5th Century BCE. “Most people just don’t want to hear all this and are not comfortable with it,” explained Israel Finkelstein, adding, “For scholars the matters are clear enough, and they know where there is, and is not, agreement, but they cannot compel the public to listen.”

            Rabbi David Wolpe said: “A tradition cannot make an historical claim and then refuse to have it evaluated by history. It is not an historical claim that God created us and cares for us. That a certain number of people walked across a particular desert at a particular time in the past, after being enslaved and liberated, is an historical claim, and one cannot then cry “unfair” when historians evaluate it.”

            ”By reviewing the new data, we wish to question the notion that pork consumption is away to distinguish Israelites/Canaanites from Philistines. In this essay, we demonstrate thatpigs do not appear (or appear in small number) in Iron Age I Canaanite centers in thelowlands as well as in non-urban settlements within the presumed territory of the Philistinecity-states. Yet, the data collected demonstrate that dichotomy in pig consumption did occur –between sites located in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah during the Iron Age IIB. The data,presented here for the first time, call for a reevaluation of the origin of the biblical taboo on the consumption of pork.”


            My thanks to John Zande for much of the resources.for this post/comment.
            John spent the better part of a year corresponding with a great many professionals in the relevant fields and still corresponds with several individuals from universities in Israel.

            Two of his excellent, thoroughly referenced posts on this issue ( and others) can be found below.



          • Arkenaten I find it interesting that those who believe in unguided evolution believe in the existence of missing links – such as the gap between reptiles and birds – which supposedly took billions of years, included billions of trial and error mutations and covered the globe – yet left not a trace – while an event that took forty years and left some traces (as I spoke of in my previous comment) cannot be believed in

          • Arkenaten says:

            Evolution is attested, thought I fully understand how difficult it must be for someone like yourself who is not only willfully ignorant but also has cotton wool in your ears and a paper bag over your head – metaphorically speaking, of course.
            I am simply just amazed that you are not acutely embarrassed by writing such stupid nonsense.

            But I suppose god-belief will do that to some people; and dont feel too bad, you are not alone. A great many Christians and Muslims think just like you.
            It’s probably just coincidence that you all worship the same god – more or less. .
            The god news is, such ignorance and stupidity is eminently curable.
            Should I pray for you do you think? 😉

          • LarryB says:

            I have not read all your post I’m sure. so I hope my question is not a repeat. Anyway, if only 1 percent or less of Egypt has been excavated does that not leave the door open for a lot of information to be discovered? And why would Egypt allow anymore excavations?

  13. Arkenaten says:


    Anyway, if only 1 percent or less of Egypt has been excavated does that not leave the door open for a lot of information to be discovered?

    Exactly what are you expecting to find? Perhaps an inscription on a wall of an ancient Egyptian bordello stating Mo was here. ?
    Truly, are you not able to process the fact that even with the fact there is no evidence in the of any sojourn in the desert, there would be ample evidence of such a massive influx of people into Palestine.
    And of course this would have left a marked impression on the Egyptian economy as well.
    Not to mention the ensuing slaughter supposedly enacted by Joshua and his barbaric hordes.
    It would have been worse that encountering an uncircumcised Genghis Khan.
    Now, at this point, believers love </em. to smugly trot out the worn out trope of Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence.

    But the problem in this instance is there is evidence of what transpired in ancient Palestine – it’s called the Settlement Pattern and nowhere is there any evidence of a couple of million former Hebrew Slaves with sand in their underpants who had just spent 40 years wandering around the Sinai desert simply because they had a crappy sense of direction and no GPS.

    And the thing is, archaeologists have known this for several generations, and it’s only fundamentalists who wish to hang on tooth and nail to a load of religious nonsense and seem to act as if there is some sort of global conspiracy to discredit the Pentateuch?
    Which is nuts, especially when those who are the forefront of the archaeological and scientific community who state that it is all bulldust are, by and large, Jews?

    Are you beginning to see a pattern here, perhaps?

    • larryb says:

      I simply tend to look for holes in arguments. Although a bit slower than others here.
      “are you not able to process the fact that even with the fact there is no evidence in the of any sojourn in the desert, there would be ample evidence of such a massive influx of people into Palestine”
      Lets forget Palestine for a minute because I have no idea how many people ended up there after the 40 years, so my simple answer to that question would be – I would expect a 99 percent chance that yes I would find evidence if the story is true. 40 years in the desert is a long time even if you consider they were, I believe the term “nomadic” is used here. Remember this is the first time I have looked at this at all and thanks to you I have not slept much in about a month. But, I am not willing to kiss the ring and bow down in front of any PHD anymore than I would be willing to kiss the ring and bow down in front of the pope. Like the conversation you have had with CR there are things you do not consider as evidence or proof that I would consider.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Then I wish you well in your journey of enlightenment.
        What you will notice is this: the only ones ( as far as I am aware) who rigorously defend the biblical tale are generally religious, and usually fundamental as well.

        I believe the term “nomadic” is used here.

        I believe it is. However, remember that the wandering Jews also pitched their tent at Qadesh-Barnea. And there was no evidence found for the traditional time of the Exodus.Unless you want to re-date the entire episode but this then creates a whole host of other problems

        The real problem is not finding evidence that might reveal the Exodus but all the other aspects of the story would than have to be examined for historical veracity.
        So, perhaps the first thing you ( or anyone who is serious about digging up the truth) should ask is:
        If evidence is found of an Exodus involving around 2 million people, do I honestly believe all the other aspects of the tale?
        Parting of the Red Sea, Manna from Heaven, Yahweh giving some bloke called Moses Ten Commandments on stone tablets, and the genocide of the local Canaanite population.
        And of course all the other heinous atrocities on the way?
        Not to mention what happened prior to departure in Egypt, of course.
        You see, you can’t really expect to find evidence of the Exodus if you are not prepared to accept the rest of the story, now can you?
        Well …. what do you think?
        Still confident there is ”truth” in the bible?

  14. Pingback: Random Reality – An Open Letter to Tildeb | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

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