I Had to Take My Dirty Panties to a Rabbi, and So Has Every Orthodox Jewish Woman

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By Katia Aryeh

Religion brainwashed me into doing irrational and emotionally self-damaging things that I would have easily recognized as primitive and harmful were it not for my indoctrination.  Of all the practices I look back on with horror, this was the worst.  By removing the veil of secrecy that keeps these practices from public knowledge, my hope is that women suffering within these communities will feel empowered to leave.

There are three key tenets of Orthodox Judaism, each associated with an array of laws that must be strictly adhered to. Of the three, people are generally familiar with two: the special dietary laws referred to as Kosher; and the rabbinical laws of the Sabbath, or Shabbat, that govern the do’s and don’ts during the day of rest between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.

The third pillar of Orthodox Judaism, family purity or niddah, is one very few people outside of that insular world are aware of.  However, if broken, the laws accompanying it carry a far greater penalty in the next world than those related to the Sabbath or keeping Kosher. The laws of family purity apply to all spectrums of orthodoxy, including the modern ones that allow women to wear trousers and uncover their hair, like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example. Even the slightest deviation from these laws would compromise a couple’s standing as practicing Orthodox Jews in the eyes of a rabbinical court.

What are these laws, you ask?

The laws of family purity revolve around the color of a woman’s vaginal discharge.

You see, beginning on the days when she anticipates her period, a husband and wife are forbidden from having any sexual relations until seven days following the end of her period. Considering orthodox law states that a period’s duration is a minimum of five days, this typically spans about two weeks or longer, depending on whether her post-menstrual discharge cooperates. In short, this means that for about half of every month, all aspects of an orthodox woman’s life, relationship, sexuality, and emotional health, are dictated by her vaginal discharge.

Except for the far left minority, most orthodox sects go even further with their adherence to the ancient laws by completely prohibiting any physical contact. Couples may not sleep in the same bed, or even hand objects to each other directly (even a baby), all to prevent the increase of temptation to have sexual contact. These laws apply even after a miscarriage, during childbirth, months following childbirth, and even if a spouse loses a family member and needs a hug from their partner. 

While the woman is required to count seven clean days before she may immerse herself in a ritual bath (mikvah) prior to reuniting with her husband, it’s not only a matter of days or time waiting. The woman must take an active role to ensure she is “clean” by wearing only white underwear and conducting self-examinations of her vaginal canal with special white cloths twice a day, every day, before sundown. The white cloth is inserted into the vagina so that any fluid or discharge is absorbed. The first examination of the seven days requires the cloth to be left in for about an hour, even if the woman is out of the house, and it is usually quite painful. Here is an excerpt from a website detailing very specific examination instructions (http://www.yoatzot.org/taharat-hamishpacha/?id=603):

 “Insert the finger deeply but GENTLY into the vaginal canal as far as the length of your finger will allow. If this is difficult for you, try to go deeply at least for the hefsek taharah [first] examination and for one of the examinations during the seven blood-free days – preferably the first.”

If during the seven days any of the examination cloths contain even a tiny spot darker than tan, or a spot on her underwear bigger than a penny and darker than tan, she must take the underwear or cloth to a special rabbi for further evaluation. This Rabbi will then examine the color to determine if it is light enough for her to keep counting, or if it’s too dark or too red tinted such that she must begin counting the seven clean days over, even if it is day 7. Seeing a spot obviously induces massive anxiety for housewives longing for any affection from their husbands, many of whom also worry that their deprived husbands will start looking elsewhere. 

Q: How do boys and girls raised in a culture obsessed with modesty accept this practice when they are made aware of what they must adhere to? 

A:

1) They are told that these special rabbis are like male OBGYNs; that there is nothing sexual about them examining the discharge, and that if someone still thinks it is inappropriate, it’s because THEY have a dirty mind and do not understand the holiness that motivates these rabbis. 

2) Engaged couples are told that if husbands sleep with their wives too much, they will grow tired of them the way a person’s love of chocolate cake would dwindle if eaten for every meal. The girls are also told that without a forced physical separation, their husbands will only see them as sexual toys and will have no incentive to talk to them and connect on a deeper emotional and intellectual level. 

3) To paraphrase what Sam Harris has said, one guy cutting off a girl’s clitoris is called a monster; hundreds of men doing the same is called culture. 

Q: Why can’t women check the colors themselves? 

A: According to Jewish law, women can’t be judges and can’t make legal rulings. Once vaginal discharge is darker than tan, a legal judgment is required. However, the minority left-leaning sect has, in recent years, certified some women to make these judgments. The center and right-leaning majority, however, does not recognize their certification because they are female judges, for all intents and purposes. 

That’s right. Women encouraging other women and their daughters to painfully violate themselves for God, instead of listening to their bodies and protecting themselves. Further, these are the least extreme of the bunch! More here: http://www.yoatzot.org/taharat-hamishpacha/?id=603

Q: Is this in the Bible? 

A: Yes, sort of. The prohibition for a man to not approach a menstruating woman is one of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament. Like kosher and the Sabbath, the specific laws governing the execution of the commandment are recorded various rabbinical writings considered as binding as the Bible itself.

The scope of this article does not include the vast laws that govern what the woman must do to her body on the night of her ritual bath, the emotional stresses put on the marriage and on the spouses by these laws, and how men who are prohibited from spilling their seed deal with so much celibacy (Hint: In Jewish law, a married man sleeping with a single woman who is not his wife is NOT considered adulterous. Adultery is defined by the marital status of the woman). 

463 COMMENTS

  1. I didn’t know menstruation was contagious.

    How do people even function in day-to-day life with all of these ridiculous rules and governances? And don’t get me started on the even-more-ridiculous “work-arounds” they have to circumvent their own rules…!

  2. @OP – The laws of family purity apply to all spectrums of orthodoxy, including the modern ones that allow women to wear trousers and uncover their hair, like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example. Even the slightest deviation from these laws would compromise a couple’s standing as practicing Orthodox Jews in the eyes of a rabbinical court.

    Mmmm! Another Trump nuttery connection!!

  3. I find this incredibly sad. After reading the article I was able to find information about this online, but it would have never occurred to me to look for it before. Aside from the incredible invasiveness of the procedures for checking for blood, the entire concept of physically limiting all intimacy, even a simple touch, for potentially weeks at a time, is horrendous and must have some strong psychological repercussions. I read about a “condition” called halachic infertility – where women are only fertile during times when they are considered unclean and so are unable to get pregnant because they are never permitted to have intercourse at the right time. There were suggestions of infertility treatments to respond to this problem! The absurdity is mind-boggling and incredibly saddening. And once again, the women suffer most.

  4. Engaged couples are told that if husbands sleep with their wives too much, they will grow tired of them the way a person’s love of chocolate cake would dwindle if eaten for every meal.

    But did not the Lord’s voice speak from out of the cloud, “I command thee to love thy wife like a person who loves chocolate cake so that you may never tire of her but always go back for seconds.”

    (The Bible is so riddled with contradictions.)

  5. To paraphrase what Sam Harris has said, one guy cutting off a girl’s clitoris is called a monster; hundreds of men doing the same is called culture.

    There is an apocryphal parallel to this phrase attributed to Stalin: “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million men is a statistic.”

  6. I think she has some options:

    leave the faith. She does not buy it.
    find a denomination that does not do this.
    humiliate the rabbi as a pervert by taking a recording video his demand to the press. Let him make excuses to the public.
    give him some freshly laundered panties.
    just refuse. Leave the ball in his court.

  7. Melissa K,
    I agree with you on all fronts. I never even thought to encroach on a woman’s dignity to this degree and as a by-product of this respect, it never would have occurred to me to even search this. AND, damn, I’d clear the history so quickly, hoping that my wife never saw the search!!!! It’s reprehensible.

    Roedy,
    I’d love to hear an updated post from Katia with her resolving to leave or walking away from this staggeringly invasive and oppressive regime of pseudo- religious, pseudo- human, pseudo-men .

    But, with a twist. Hopefully many people here have read my stuff for a while and realize that while i am content being a giant middle finger, what follows here is, in fact an attempt at being funny.

    Here’s what i’d hope she does….. It would be grand to see how many “substances” she could smear in undergarments and turn in for inspection before the “holy man” caught on. I’d relish the story of her getting one over on he sexist asshole and, by proxy, their entire sexist system.

    One final fuck you and then walk away with your finger raised.

  8. I feel bad that you had a bad experience and I understand that you want to share it and help others. for the readers of this article, they should be aware that there are millions of religious Jews who adhere to these laws, accept them and feel privileged to have them. It’s unfortunate that in every “system” there will always be some people that it does not work for. (think about school drop outs or just the way people have different tastes and music they like) and the writer of this article obviously had a bad experience. Hence the way this article is written it makes it seem that these laws are primitive and unhealthy for the women keeping them. I won’t go down the path to write why the Nidda laws can be beneficial to couples as I am sure there are many available online or at your local Jewish bookstore.

  9. Jacob Cohen #8
    Nov 30, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Hence the way this article is written it makes it seem that these laws are primitive and unhealthy for the women keeping them.

    That’s probably because they are!

    I won’t go down the path to write why the Nidda laws can be beneficial to couples

    I’m pretty sure you would struggle to make a coherent case based on biology, medicine or psychology.

    as I am sure there are many available online or at your local Jewish bookstore.

    I’m sure there are, but none of them are likely to written objectively by anyone who is an expert on psychology or health, or who has not been indoctrinated in primitive preconceptions!
    There are also many books which are written claiming the Earth is flat, or that the Moon-landings were a hoax!
    Their authors also have credibility problems when in rational company.

  10. Jacob Cohen,

    Spoken like a true “male of the religion”. Way to go. You have single handedly shown exactly why this is unacceptable. And, single handedly summarized my absolute disdain for so many religions. You couldn’t have done it better with a flaming star of david stuck in a child’s eye. The fact that you seem like a very nice and genteel human being only serves to highlight further how pernicious this collection of taboos and superstitions actually are.

    Her’s your post from my perspective:

    “I feel bad that you had a bad experience….but….” Some women like having their undergarments dug through like they are farm animals….. yeah, and some men get sexually aroused by being vomited on. And, are the “holy men” masturbating about this access to these myriad women???? Next will be, “how dare I” (self righteous indignation that I’d SAY such a thing — while your rabbis are ACTUALLY sniffing women’s soiled undergarments in real life). how about this? How dare this religion do such repugnant shit? Would you be ok with a ____________ coming up to you and asking for your daughter’s soiled panties? I WOULD NOT.

    You claim it has benefits that “you choose not to go into”… like that kid who has a girlfriend ….in Canada… at summer camp…. you wouldn’t know her. Typical mindless adherence and thoughtlessness. Reminiscent of Trump ending every statement with “everybody knows”.

    You also then cite biased insider source material… “available at a Jewish bookstore”…. Like “hey, man, EVERYBODY”S doing it”…. There’s this BOOK!!! One says that you can beat homosexuality out of your child. Another says that if you say the right prayers, their leukemia will clear up, another extolls the benefits of a vegan diet for newborns, hey, voodoo, santaria, animal sacrifice…. Oh, but they are all “wrong”, huh?

    It reminds me of when that man in Iran said that homosexuality was punishable by death in Iran….. but that’s ok because we don’t have any homosexuals here.”

    What a reprehensible thing to justify. And, again, you come off as a very nice man and I’d be glad to be your friend, coworker, neighbor even family member….. However, I’d seriously think about reconsidering when you condone such overtly heinous violating of women’s privacy rights and do so with such matter-of-fact cavalier statements and do it all in the name of some kind and loving being in the sky. It’s an offensive pile of shit.

  11. Jacob Cohen

    there are millions of religious Jews who adhere to these laws, accept them and feel privileged to have them.

    The big three monotheisms, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share the misogynistic strategy of controlling women’s natural reproductive strategy. It certainly doesn’t surprise me to read from a Jewish man who supports the bizarre level of scrutiny of women’s vaginal discharge that is explained in the article above. It also won’t surprise me to hear of the sadly brainwashed Jewish women who support this tactic as well. Every religion has its own gender traitors after all. Consciousness raising amongst them is needed immediately.

    On this website, when you post a claim you may be challenged to provide a source for that. Are you sure that it’s actually “millions” of supporters? You have stats? Of course we could never trust the answers of the women themselves. Some truly support this bizarre tactic but many will indicate support out of fear. And don’t tell me that all of the men in that community support this either. They’re all perfectly content with the practice of some Rabbi geezer sniffing their wive’s and daughter’s panties? Give me a break.

    These women are trapped in an abusive little world from which it is extremely difficult to escape. Some privilege, right?!

    Alpha males of the in-group who are absolutely brainwashed and intimidated by the prospect of women running their own lives in an independent autonomous way must find the rules and regulations of their antiquated religions to be very convenient when it comes to keeping their women on a short leash.

    …feel privileged… That is beyond the pale. The misogynistic statement of the century award.

  12. Laurie B,
    Great post. Your controlled burn is much more effective than my laser beams! I wish I had your writing style.

    But, posted to ask….

    First, are you sure that this wins the coveted “misogynist of the year award”? Because Some might proffer Trump as the current leader for the award.

    Second, and on a lighter note, what does this award look like? Is a sphincter shaped trophy too callous?

  13. crooked

    Trump as the current leader for the award.

    Well ok then, the point is well taken. I stand humbly corrected. 😉

    Is a sphincter shaped trophy too callous?

    Yes, that’s definitely too callous. The actually trophy is a six foot long dildo. The winner of the award will be bludgeoned with it at the award ceremony. For the record, just to put you in your place crooked, I can out-callous you any day of the week in three languages. So there. I could also take tea with the Queen. No problem. It’s good to be versatile in this life.

  14. @OP – like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/ivanka-trumps-jewish-faith-11-things-know-about-donald-trumps-daughter-judaism-2393299

    Ivanka Trump’s Jewish Faith: 11 Things To Know About Donald Trump’s Daughter And Judaism

    2: Israel’s supreme rabbinical court recently rejected a conversion performed by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion, but that decision does not affect her status as a Jew.

    3: Donald Trump did not attend the “bris” — ritual circumcision — of Ivanka’s son Theodore in April.

    4: The mother of three says her religion plays an important role in family life. “We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it’s such an intimate thing for us,” Ivanka Trump told Vogue magazine in 2015. “It’s been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”

    5: Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly keep kosher — that is, they follow the dietary restrictions in the Torah, eating no shellfish or pork and keeping milk products and meat products separate.

    6: Like other Orthodox Jews, Ivanka and her family observe Shabbat (the Sabbath). Kushner said the couple “turn off our phones for 25 hours.” Ivanka explained the benefits of abstaining from work for the weekly holiday. “From Friday to Saturday we don’t do anything but hang out with one another,” she told Vogue. “It’s an amazing thing when you’re so connected to really sign off. And for [daughter] Arabella to know that she has me, undivided, one day a week? We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family.”

    10: Modern Orthodox Jews tend to adhere more closely than Conservative or Reform Jews to the commandments of Jewish law, said Rabbi Leora Kaye, the Director of Programming for the Union for Reform Judaism. “In general the biggest difference between the denominations, I would say, is the way they understand the weight of what we call Jewish law.” Kaye noted that, for example, it would be unlikely for a woman to be a rabbi in an Orthodox denomination.

    11: Ivanka and her husband live in “a world that is committed to the age-old practices of Judaism, but it doesn’t mean that those practices and observances prevent the person from being fully engaged,” said Rabbi Wildes.

    There is no mention of panties in the article, but there probably would not be anyway!

  15. Jacob,

    As a woman who lived under these laws for ~17 years, I think I am qualified to address some of your comments more so than those outside this world commenting. (Though I appreciate their voices as well!

    You wrote, “they should be aware that there are millions of religious Jews who adhere to these laws, accept them and feel privileged to have them.”

    You are correct that every Orthodox Jewish woman follows these laws. There are 2.2 million Orthodox Jews in the world (obviously a lot of children and men in that number.) It’s a slight exaggeration to say “millions” follow the laws.

    However, my argument is with this bit… that people “feel privileged to have them.”

    Umm, no. Not according to any frum women I have ever spoken with over my lifetime.

    Do they accept them? Yes. They must! They truly believe it is the word and will of god. They HAVE to follow the laws. (From their standpoint.)

    But privileged to have them?? I don’t know one mikvah-going woman who feels “privileged” to have these laws, unless you’re counting the kallah teachers that teach women the rules. They may say so. But I’m sure they must convince themselves of their good, otherwise how could they tolerate teaching it to others??

    I assume you are from or in the Orthodox world, so you know as well as I do that staying pregnant and breastfeeding is as much about “pru’vu”, or the commandment to have children, as it is about staying away from mikvah. When you’re pregnant, and when you breastfeed “clean,” you don’t go to the mikvah. So, stay pregnant or nursing, and you won’t need to go much. That’s just what most Orthodox women do.

    Do you know how many dedicated religious women I know who have CRIED to me that their periods came back while breastfeeding?? They cried because they did NOT want to have to follow these laws.

    I would say hundreds of thousand “tolerate” these laws. They may justify these laws… try to rationalize them. Make up “benefits” in order to tolerate them… But that’s as far as it goes.

    And all the bullshit about how “beneficial to couples” it is, again, no. The idea that it “improves” the relationship because they have to talk to each other and not have sex — well, it’s as if the assumption is that when they CAN have sex, that’s all they do. That’s ridiculous. It is completely possible to become emotionally connected to your spouse without forced physical separation for half the month.

    And during childbirth? And after childbirth? And after a miscarriage? To not be able to be touched or hugged or anything? That is emotional neglect. Now, I’m not saying the men are responsible for it — they are as suppressed and hurt by these laws as much as the women. But not ONE expert in psychology would say it was a “benefit” to lack any physical comfort during a deeply emotional or hurtful time.

    Yes, people make up reasons it’s “good” for a couple. But these laws are not followed for the “benefits.” It’s like what one Rabbi told me once: The Torah/Bible isn’t nice — it’s just right.

    They are followed because people believe it is the word of god — and that’s it. Not because they are good. There is not one good thing about them.

  16. LaurieB,
    Duly noted!!! (and you got a huge grin and even a bit of a snicker from me on your last post). Versatility protects against extinction.

    Oh, and i have enough trouble with English…. I’ve always envied brains that can accommodate multiple languages.

  17. Rachel,
    Thank you for your post. I find so much courage and honest intelligence in what you say. As one of the “offended outsiders”, it lends credence and validity to my opinion and let’s me see that, in fact, my kneejerk reaction (even though it is a kneejerk reaction) was “kosher” — pun intended!

  18. I feel like my wife and I can comment from an in-the-middle perspective.

    Regarding my viewpoint on Judaism in short: I see it as a cultural choice that is aimed at controlling one’s impulses instead of being controlled by them EG: Shabbat, I put down my phone, don’t drive, don’t do my normal work, and spend hours in meditation, Holidays: I perform rituals to remind me what I have to be thankful for and what I should remember. Prayer is a method of meditation etc.

    My personal method is fairly common in Judaism, it’s based on rational, psychological and scientific facts. Ah, but what happens when scientific facts collide with the bible? We find a rational psychological, physiological, or anthropological reason for them. Niddah – or the family purity laws do have some good points in them, but the corruption of these laws comes from within Judaism and a fair bit of “Sheeple,” behavior.

    Niddah is a period of separation for 8 days (I know 12 is mentioned here, but I personally disagree with 12 and so do many others). This time is a time of separation and rejoining to renew the sexual bond between husbands and wives – I dare you to look at the statistics of most marriages outside Judaism and the non-vibrant sex-life they boast. After the woman’s immersion in the Mikva (which I said to my wife, if she doesn’t feel like doing it or feels negatively about it, then water is water, take a bath), it is traditionally accepted to have sex. Once every 8 days? that’s pretty good for a few years down the line.

    The 12 days is keeping a law that makes the Niddah law fuzzy – Zava. Due to the fact that the Sheeple of the Rabbincal age of Judaism couldn’t distinguish between uncommon uterine bleeding and a normal period, they set all future religious Jews to follow the laws of Zava. Zava is the irregular bleeding after a period, a time in which most doctors will encourage you to not engage in sexual relations and to remain vigilant for signs of bleeding or spotting for more than a week. I personally don’t agree that we should keep Zava, as we are able to determine ourselves what a normal period is and what irregular bleeding is.

    Furthermore, if Zava is kept for a minimum of 12 days – this can cause a couple to not conceive and need to receive special permission to shorten the period of separation to allow for conception. Also, the psychological effects of the separation, physiological harm a woman can cause herself with frequent checking, and frustration with the complexities of keeping a law that is designed in the event of irregular bleeding and not to celebrate the rejoining of husband and wife (EG the writer of this article) are reason enough to return to the original laws of Niddah.

    Your frustration is shared by many and there are aspects of Judaism that are misogynistic. What I ask for is the appreciation for the aspects in Judaism that aren’t misogynistic – EG, contracts that guarantee a woman’s livelihood in the event of divorce, a law impeding the taking of concubines in warfare, the inclusion of women and their powerful roles throughout Jewish history, and the honor given to women which quite a few other religions don’t share.

    I won’t exonerate Jewish tradition, but I fully believe that misogyny in Judaism is the result of influences to our tradition that stem from other cultures or religions. One example is sex: The bible is pretty damn forthcoming about sex, the prophets are too – who believes sex is sinful? Christianity and Islam primarily. There is no basis in the bible or debatably afterwards to taboo sex – yet today in the ultra-orthodox communities, it is tabooed and considered impure. The laws of purity and impurity referred to a spiritual condition that only occurred in the times of the Jewish temple – they occur in situations when the mind is affected and it detracts from the service of God – EG. Coming in contact with a dead body, blood, sex, warfare, leprosy (in some cases). In these cases you need to undergo an ancient ritual of purification. Today – we don’t keep these laws, but our tradition is influenced from them (hand washing, kashrut) and in the case of the Ultra-Orthodox, are still kept.

    We agree that no woman should be forced to send her underwear to a Rabbi, and that Rabbis (unless they have medical degrees), are not qualified to determine health aspects as a result of examining dried blood, nor can they double as a financial adviser or medical adviser in the case of bearing children (unless, once again, they have a degree in Micro-Econ). We encourage couples who read this to be open with each other about this issue, and to research the plethora of debate surrounding this issue.

    Good luck.

  19. I have been to three bar mitzvahs and enjoyed sitting with two different men showing me who was shagging who in extra marital affairs. I personally listened in on a 76 year old rich guy telling a woman half his age how much he fancied her and watched them behave like naughty children all evening thinking they were the only ones in the know.

  20. Rachel, the point of my comment was for “outsiders” to realize that this article was written by someone who is upset and has had a bad experience. There are two sides to every story and specifically with these laws it has its benefits. It was not to argue the validity rather, to make readers aware that there are many hundreds of thousands of Jews who adhere to them and have a good experience.

    To learn more and come to an educated conclusion, readers should do their own research.

    As a side point I remember as a teenager listening to Dr. Laura and on many occasions, she would ask the caller “when was the last time you had sex with your spouse” I was shocked when many would respond with a period of longer than 6 months. Any religious Jewish couple will not have this issue due to the laws of Nidda. In addition, during the menstruating cycle couples are supposed to be schmoozing, dating, hanging out etc. and working on their relationship in a non-sexual way. If a woman does not feel emotionally well then it is her husband who is not doing his job as a caring spouse.

    You are correct when saying that “They are followed because people believe it is the word of god — and that’s it” I would add that for many, there are additional benefits.

    @crookedshoes, I lost you with the farm animals 🙂

  21. Jacob,

    You said: “I was shocked when many would respond with a period of longer than 6 months. Any religious Jewish couple will not have this issue due to the laws of Nidda.”

    There are Jewish couples who don’t have sex for months, who keep the laws of niddah. That’s a thing, and a myth that mikvah “prevents” this.

    In fact, there are women who just don’t bother to go to the mikvah for months due to friction in the marriage. This isn’t common, of course! (Not common in Jewish marriages, and not common in non-Jewish marriages either.) But it happens. (And yes, it is forbidden by Jewish law but it still happens.)

    I wouldn’t take callers on a talk show as a reference for the general public… I’m sure those people are more likely to have issues. That’s why they are calling into a talk show.

    I will also add that the “obligation” to have sex on the mikvah night is a huge stress for many women. While it is not “required-required” to have sex that night, there is a very strong push that it should happen… and many women don’t feel like it after all the preparation and stress of mikvah. That brings up strife in a marriage, too. This, “Well, it’s our mikvah night, we have to have sex tonight. It’s a mitzvah,” thing… How is that good?

    The “Jewish couples who keep taharas mishpacha have better sex lives” refrain is repeated often… but as far as I know, there’s been no actual research on the topic. (I imagine finding frum people willing to share with a professor how often they have sex would be difficult.)

    I agree people should do their own research… BUT that is going to be really difficult to find, if you’re looking for sources that are not already strongly biased towards keeping the rules. I actually don’t know of a neutral source to learn about these things.

    Rachel

  22. So far on this thread there have been appeals to accept and overlook, even appreciate the negative aspects of Judaism because there are a number of positive aspects of the religion that are supposedly serving a couple million believers well.

    Here are some of the aspects that are reported as positive:

    14

    Rules serve as a “blueprint” for family connectivity

    Phones turned off for 25 hours

    From Friday to Saturday do nothing but hang out with each other. Play and hang out with daughter.

    19

    Controlling impulses

    Rituals for giving thanks and remembering.

    Dietary Restrictions

    Niddah family purity laws based on ancient superstitions force couples to reject sexual contact. Forcing couples to only have sex on schedule, according to an arbitrary ancient, man-made schedule leads to postponement of marital ennui for decades.

    Ok, here’s the thing. Some of these are positive and some of these are not considered positive at all, even by members of the religious in-group, as commenters have indicated. But the point that the secular community would make, if I may speak for us here, is that these are all items that anyone could incorporate into their own lifestyle if they choose to do so! Why is it necessary to force these rules on a large group of people, two million if the figure is correct, when they could easily adopt them if they desire but reject the items that they find to archaic, perverted or harmful in some way?

    That’s the complaint here with orthodoxy, it forces many people to comply with the bad just so that a few good things will be observed as well. This is unacceptable and it’s too tied in with indoctrination of children when they have no ability to consider whether or not they want to comply. They must comply because they have no choice. They grow into adults who are either in compliance through force or through brainwashing. How can anyone defend this? It’s monstrous.

    Abe Truitt

    What I ask for is the appreciation for the aspects in Judaism that aren’t misogynistic – EG, contracts that guarantee a woman’s livelihood in the event of divorce, a law impeding the taking of concubines in warfare, the inclusion of women and their powerful roles throughout Jewish history, and the honor given to women which quite a few other religions don’t share.

    Secular law provides protection now for women in divorce. Many women want to access that for the protection it provides and reject religious “law” for being based on old misogynistic ideas that are predatory. I believe there are rules of war that are recognized by the international community and as for appreciating the role of women in Jewish history, I’m all for that but that’s something that everyone can do without giving in to old bad ideas that the rest of the religion forces on people.

    When we talk about the good things that religion makes us do, ask yourself if you could do it yourself without religion at all. If so, then what good is it to put up with the bad aspects of religion at all?

  23. Jacob Cohen,

    This is the writer. I am not angry and I didn’t have a bad experience. You saying so as a matter of fact is not only wrong, it’s an ad hominem attack meant to distract from the issue at hand as well. Falicious arguments abound in your world, but they don’t fly here.

    What horrifies me when I look back was that I thought what I was doing was good when I engaged in this uncomfortable, violating, and sad practice. Further, I find it horrifying that I almost brainwashed my two daughters to think this was normal and good for them. THAT is what is horrifying now that I have objectivity and have been out of the fog for some time. I wasn’t horrified at the time because I was brainwashed, which is entirely the point: I SHOULD have been, but wasn’t.

    It’s also quite sexist to assume that if a woman writes a blunt informative piece without dancing around the issue and sugar coating it like the demure damsel an orthodox girl is expected to be, you automatically think she’s angry. More misogyny.

  24. She’s right- no good reason that women can’t be trained to examine their own panties. Period.
    Sex abstention improves the sex life according to plenty of Gentile mental health professionals. Period.
    The ultra orthodox community has many idiosyncrasies that are bizarre. It’s not normative Judaism. It’s intellectually dishonest to characterize Orthodox Judaism according to what they do.
    Plenty of women love the Mikva experience. Especially converts. Many don’t. So what.
    The rules described here are not from Moses from Sinai. It’s mostly rabbinic. Feel free to follow what makes sense to you. TRUST ME– GOD DOESNT CARE. HE GAVE US THE TORAH FOR OUR BENEFIT, NOT HIS. Do as many mitzvot as you can. The only purpose of the mitzvot is to get close to God. Do what you can and what generates that closeness. It doesn’t help to make fun of anachronistic OCD obsesssed Jews.
    Instead of this rant, let the author go to a modern orthodox egalitarian synagogue and enjoy life.

  25. Ari #25
    Dec 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Instead of this rant, let the author go to a modern orthodox egalitarian synagogue and enjoy life.

    Or they can just circulate socially in secular society, and enjoy life without rituals, quaint taboos, and superstitions.

  26. @ Jacob Cohen,
    You’ve gone on to clearly demonstrate how likable you are. If you were an actor, your “Q” rating would be way way higher than mine. The farm animal rant, although brusque and perhaps brutish, is simply words. I use them with force sometimes and sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong. These practices are actions and well… one speaks louder than the other.
    The idea that I “lost you there” is not surprising as it is true tangential thinking and I feel no compulsion to rehash any of it. It stands. If you care to reread it, I wouldn’t change a word.

    **** not true….. I regretted one word in the diatribe and that is when I said “even” (a family member). I wish I hadn’t said “even” there. It doesn’t convey what i meant and has the added crapful byproduct of being easily misinterpreted. Anyway, your posts are appreciated and I think, honest from your perspective and i thank you for them.

    @ SuperKatGirl,
    What is most heartening is when you say “Further, I find it horrifying that I almost brainwashed my two daughters to think this was normal and good for them.” This makes me feel great. Because of your strength of both character and mind, you have provided your daughters with the most important thing (IMO) a child can see: a strong parent. Further, you’ve made the “score” 2 million MINUS three. And, that’s remarkable. I do not know if this matters one iota in your world but Bravo from crookedshoes (and I am sure many many others here).
    Respectfully,
    Jim

  27. Thank you Jim. I appreciate that. 🙂

    For anyone who is interested, I’m good and well and my girls and I are living happy secular lives and have been for about 4 years. Needless to say it’s been the best four years of our lives and it just keeps getting better and better!!!

  28. It simply amazes me that anyone follows these ridiculous rules. I took a look around the linked web site and found one instance of breathtaking made-up idiocy after another. These are perhaps best represented by this:
    Wait required after bowel movement?

    Wait required after bowel movement?

    Question: With regards to finding a kesem on toilet paper, I was
    wondering if the rule of waiting more than 15 seconds only applies
    after urinating or for a bowel movement as well? Thank you Answer: It
    applies specifically after urinating, as urinating may mask a
    sensation of menses. A bowel movement’s sensations are in a more
    clearly distinct region of the body. In practice, a woman who has a
    bowel movement after urinating generally waits fifteen seconds for
    that reason alone.

    I thank my stars that I was never involved with any of this foolishness!

    Steve

  29. I’m coming late to this thread – sorry if everyone else has moved on, but I feel I need to say a few things. I learnt something new from this post. It was not, I can say, something I particularly wanted to learn but nevertheless …

    @Jacob
    A quick question, do you have actual blood in your veins? I’m asking because your reply, to a women recounting a deeply humiliating and traumatic time in her life, was the measure of cold, clinical indifference. When I read Katia’s post I felt sadness and compassion, but, I must admit, I felt just a little bit of rage reading your reply. You said you were “sorry (she) had a bad experience”. Really? As if it were a trip to the dentist, just a little more painful than it should have been. Perhaps you think most women are OK with all of this? Perhaps Katia is just being a little sensitive?

    In the context in which it was written, I would be hard put to recount a more callous and cold-blooded statement than this remark of yours.

    Funnily enough, despite the immense hurt she suffered, Katia’s reply to you was noble and dignified. I am neither of these things however, so I ask again, Jacob, do you in fact have veins full of icewater? And for a follow up question do you, in your sick little world, (@mods sorry – personal attack, I would hope you let this one go), do you, Jacob, actually believe that this is the will of God? That the Almighty, creator of all we see, the alpha and omega, that this omnipotent being has decided, in his infinite wisdom, it’s a good idea for a bunch of old men to go around inspecting young women’s undergarments? Again – really?

    Judaism is not the only religion to treat women shamefully and you Jacob certainly and sadly are not the only adherent who believes that this is all correct and proper, that God intended women to be second-class citizens. I am nevertheless greatly encouraged by brave people such as the poster, who despite the best efforts of others to brainwash them and inculcate them into going along with their despicable practices and traditions, summon up the courage and say “enough”. Katia you have my immense respect. Good luck, and thanks for having the guts to write this.

    (ps my wife is Colombian and Colombians have fire in their veins. She’s catholic, but if any priest ever asked to see her panties she’d kick him where it really hurts – and good job too!)

  30. @OP
    I read these posts just after lunch usually so I got as far as vaginal discharge.

    I can guess the rest reading the title.

    It does not actually matter about the detail or why for me.

    Its just another a mindless, tribal religious practice that subjugates, humiliates and takes away the dignity/privacy of women.

    That some rabbi or cleric may get a power rush or perverse sexual gratification from?

    Why am I not surprised? (but still disgusted)

    There are positives from each culture and maybe even a few from some religions but this is clearly not one of them.

  31. Just another example of how the men of religion have set their minds to dealing with what they see is ‘the problem’ of womankind and how to keep them in their place. There has been an obsession with virginity and menstruation in the abrahamic religions that is fanatical, bizarre and perverse.

  32. this BIG commandment too, to me, is a clear indication, that the Bible was written by a collection of people, possibly just men only. “I am your God and you shall have no other God but me”. Now if you think for a moment, if you were the God of everything, would there be any need to state the obvious? I mean, if there was a God of everything then everything would know, instinctively, who this God was. However, if you were not a God of everything then of course this would be the ultimate commandment to make, wouldn’t it?

  33. ray stasionis #35
    Dec 16, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    “I am your God and you shall have no other God but me”. Now if you think for a moment, if you were the God of everything, would there be any need to state the obvious?

    Ah! But this comes from the time before Israelite monotheism and the killing off of the other gods and their priests, if you read history rather than listening Bible ranters!

    El, who morphed into Yahweh, Jehovah, and “God”, was the chief god, and ruled along with his wife Asherah.

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Canaanite_Religion

    Canaanite religion describes the belief systems and ritual practices of the people living in the ancient Levant region throughout the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
    Until recently, little was known of these traditions outside of the Hebrew Bible, which denigrated them as idolatrous and licentious. Twentieth century archaeological excavations, however, unearthed several texts, as well as many artifacts, which provided previously unknown details and insights into the nature of Canaanite religion.

    Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing worship on ancestral household gods and goddesses, while honoring major deities such as El, Ashera, Baal, Anat, and Astarte at various public temples and high places. Kings also played an important religious role, especially in certain ceremonies, such as the sacred marriage of the New Year Festival, and may have been revered as gods.

    The Canaanite pantheon was conceived as a divine clan, headed by the supreme god El; the gods collectively made up the elohim. Through the centuries, the pantheon of Canaanite gods evolved, so that El and Asherah were more important in earlier times, while Baal and his consorts came to fore in later years.

  34. At the very least, every month a Rabbi should bring his dirty panties to a select jury of women within his community, for them to deliberate on the relationship between the color of his discharges and his fitness to serve as judge on the color of their discharges.

    It would be only fair.

  35. Hey, so I stumped on this article and thought I would give my own insight.

    First of all, a point of halacha: the stain on the examination cloth doesnt have to be bigger than a penny to make you nidda, nor does it have to be darker than tan. The tiniest tiniest stain, in any shade of red (from light pink to black) is considering invalidating. The under-penny-sized stain is acceptable only if seen on a white or light-coloured or coloured pant. On a coloured underwear, it doesnt change one’s status unless it’s a real flux.

    This is only a preview of all the complexities of these laws. sometimes you see an light orange coloured stain, you have a doubt: is there some red in there? Is it more orange or red or yellow? It is in those case, when you’re unsure, that you’re heading to someone which studied the matter at lenght.

    Contrary to what is written in this article, it is not a “minority left-leaning sect” that “has, in recent years, certified some women to make these judgments”. A rebbetzin, which studied these matters, is as qualified as anyone to determine the nature of the stain. In my community, we have a rebbetzin which is very competent and I assure you my community is more of the right-leaning type.

    I read a couple of things that surprised me:

    1) I was NEVER told I had a dirty mind for being uneasy with the fact a rabbi was checking my bdikot/underwear O_o
    And I have really read a lot of books on the subject of nidda, spoke with yoatzot, etc etc and every time the subject was brought up, the response was that it was frequent to feel weird the first few times you give the envelope to the rebbetzin (so she can check it or give it to her husband to check) or put it into the malbox, but that it was simply a matter of checking if everything is alright and that it’s not disrespectful to the rabbi and that, like you said, I didnt have to feel any worse than when I go to an OBGYN
    I’m sorry you obviously went to an incompetent yoetzet, this is the first time I hear of such a rude teacher. My friends and I talk about our yoatzot and no one ever told me hers was telling her that (the go-to-a-rabbi being a touchy subject for a bride to be, I would have heard of a yoetzet being that mean with one of my friends)

    2) It’s true that rabbi Meir praises those laws for allowing a couple to reconnect in a way other than touching each other and for making the wife more desirable to her husband. But sex is still a mitsva during pregnancy and after menopause, which are times during which couple dont have these monthly interruptions, and no one seems to be concerned that husband will be disgusted of their wives. The “reconnecting” aspect is seen as something positive that can be obtained through these laws, not the reason behind them. I have never been told, in the numerous occasions I have learned about Nidda, that my husband would be disgusted by me if I had too much sex with him.

    3) I dont think it is honest or fair to compare nidda laws with excision. The last destroys one’s sex life, induces a great amount a physical pain, increases mortality, etc. Nothing, comparing to simply having to put an envelope into a mailbox with your telephone number on it.

    And the women are totally competent to make legal rulings (see Dvora). Not that deciding if a colour is permitted or not falls under the “legal rulings” description anyway. But if we were considered incompetent to apply the legal rulings made by the heads of our religion, we would have to bring every single one of our bdikot to the rav.
    Jewish women and men all the time use their judgement to determine if something is permitted or not. You’ve seen your mother doing chabbat, accomplishing mitsvot, cooking, casherizing meat, etc etc. Some people become so competent they can give chiourim, and I’m sure your already went to those women teachers to ask a question about a tricky point of halacha. So why exactly do you think examining bdikot is any different?

  36. I am an Orthodox Jew, going on 30 years of marriage. My wife and I faithfully observed the laws of taharat hamishpachah (family purity) from the time of our wedding until she experienced menopause. Neither of us would have had it any other way! While the article and some of the responses to it betray an inherent bias against any religious practices, I will nonetheless assay to explain the Jewish perspective.
    We view the laws of family purity as God-given, no different than the laws of Shabbat, or the laws related to thievery, or the laws related to giving charity! There is, essentially, no difference, and just because some “moderns” do not understand a law does not mean that the law is flawed.
    The article criticizes family purity on several grounds, and i will address these:
    1. Katia Aryeh is uncomfortable that women have to take their “dirty panties to a rabbi.” Well, actually, not usually the case. A woman having a discharge of questionable color usually has several options. First, to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation, the woman can have her husband bring the panties to a qualified rabbi (for the record, no, the “panty viewer” does not have to be a rabbi, and in actuality, the viewer can be a woman, if she is qualified). Second, in my community and many others, methods have been developed whereby a woman’s discharge can be judged anonymously.
    Now it may happen that a woman may have to go directly to a rabbi (and yes, generally rabbis are the qualified ones, by virtue of their rigorous study of the applicable laws). Life is sometimes uncomfortable! But their is nothing sexual about the encounter! Believe me, I have looked at panties and cloths, and it is not at all arousing! The perverted ones are the commenters who somehow want to see sex in everything. Which leads me to point two:

    In olden times, MEN ALSO HAD DISCHARGES THAT NEEDED TO BE ASSESSED! Yes, this is not well known, but in the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the laws of purity and impurity had ramifications for men and women. Certain penile discharges also had to be viewed and evaluated. Today the male aspect is moot, and it will remain so until the rebuilding of the Temple, but back in the day, this was an everyday occurrence. It may not have been a comfortable experience, but again, life is not always comfortable.
    It seems that Aryeh has decided for herself that no logical woman would accept these laws. I challenge readers to read! Read articles written by women who find that the laws of niddah elevate them. Women are not sex objects to be used by men as it suits the men. A woman is entitled to her personal space, to a time when she and her spouses explore the non-physical parts of their relationship. Is this good for a marriage? I think that today, the divorce rate in the Orthodox community at large is probably a stratospheric… ten to fifteen percent! Yes, too high, but nowhere near the percentage in the country at large. What explains this low rate? Part of it is that yes, by separating periodically (pun intended), a husband and wife maintain their desire for one another. Non-stop accessibility is not ideal for a marriage.
    So yes, “Engaged couples are told that if husbands sleep with their wives too much, they will grow tired of them.” True!
    Aryeh states that women can’t check the colors themselves because “women can’t be judges.” It is true that that in Jewish law, women cannot generally be judges in a court of law, but ruling on a “bedikah cloth” does not require such a judge, and if a woman (or her husband) is competent to know the various colors and shades that determine a discharge’s status, she may rule upon it herself. However, knowing the colors is a complicated skill that involves significant study under the tutelage of one who already has studied. Generally, it is rabbis who study this matter along with their other studies of ritual law.
    Aryeh decries women who encourage their daughters to “painfully violate themselves for God.” I know, from speaking with my wife, that the procedure of “checking” vaginally may occasionally be painful. (It depends on the woman; responses vary.) When this is the case, Jewish law allows for less frequent checking; there are ways to minimize the discomfort.
    While Judaism has laws that may seem irrational, we accept the laws, recognizing that we don’t necessarily understand the Divine Will. For example, we don’t wear garments that have a mixture of wool and linen; boy, is that irrational! But the laws of niddah are not irrational at all. They may perfect sense, and for the record, sex after separation is amazing!

  37. To complete my last thought in the previous post: I am not commenting on marital relations after separation from a strictly personal perspective. The Talmud itself states that after a woman goes to the mikveh (ritual bath) and returns to her husband, their experience simulates their wedding night (presumably when they had sex for the first time). I think that most Orthodox men and women will concur that just as continuous eating of chocolate will lead to a disdain for chocolate, the same goes for other physical pleasures, including intimacy.
    Orthodox Jews strive for modesty, but this does not mean that Jewish laws shies away from discussing pleasure. The Talmudic Sages were well aware of the powerful sexual urge, and Jewish law seeks to direct that urge, not to discourage it! We view sex as good, healthy, and part of normative life. Within the marital context, as long as the wife is tehorah (meaning she has gone to the mikveh), there are practically no constraints on what she and her husband can do in bed.
    Looking back, if I were given the choice, I would do it all over again. Keeping the laws of niddah is a wonderful experience.

  38. Avi Goldstein

    We view the laws of family purity as God-given, no different than the laws of Shabbat, or the laws related to thievery, or the laws related to giving charity! There is, essentially, no difference, and just because some “moderns” do not understand a law does not mean that the law is flawed.

    You must be aware of the fact that the regular readers and contributors to this website are well aware that those people who are still under the effects of their childhood indoctrination into whatever religion it happens to be, believe that the ideas of the ancient desert semitic tribes are of paramount importance in living correctly in this current time. We already understand that the orthodox, evangelicals and fundamentalists of all stripes are under the influence of their religious ideology and can’t seem to think their way clear of it.

    When you state that “moderns” don’t understand a religious law, consider that we moderns actually understand it perfectly and may have read the ancient texts that it came from. You assume that you and your “tribe” are the only ones who are in possession of the absolute truth and that if only everyone else would just read this ancient material then they would immediately respect and admire your lifestyle and devotion. I hope you will not be surprised to hear that every devout Muslim on the face of the earth believes the same thing. Then what happens is predictable; the outsider to that religion spends a few minutes reading the Koran and is immediately shocked at the brutality, sexism and every other moral failure that is recognized by all of us moderns who are not brainwashed from childhood to admire these writings and opinions. Try to understand that the Jewish holy writings are no different whatsoever than those of the Christians and Muslims. They are the same.

    Advice to all orthodox and fundamentalists: Do NOT recommend to secular “moderns” that they need to read ancient “holy” books so that the moderns can come to love the barbaric cruelty contained within them. You will definitely achieve the opposite result. These books inspire disgust in us moderns.

    One thing that every secular person is proud of is our ability to leave behind the bad old ideas that come from religion and that come from any other source as well. It takes a flexible educated mind to analyse ideas and run them through the filter of modern ethics. All of the freedoms and equality that we in the West appreciate and maybe take for granted too, come from the great thinkers of the Enlightenment and everyone who had the opportunity and courage to move us forward to our current position. The very person who started this website, Richard Dawkins, has done so much to boost the position of all secular people and has no doubt suffered great aggravation in all of these years because of it.

    So you see Avi, when you ask us here to respect your tired old ideas concerning the management of your women’s vaginal discharge and ritual bathing to return them to a state of purity and cleanliness from the state of filth that they previously experienced from completely natural biological processes, can’t you recognize that we actually do understand what you are participating in and in fact we find it to be misogynistic and repulsive? Your control of your women’s reproductive behavior is unacceptable in the current century. We say the same about the Muslims, your cultural cousins. Unacceptable.

    I think that today, the divorce rate in the Orthodox community at large is probably a stratospheric… ten to fifteen percent! Yes, too high, but nowhere near the percentage in the country at large. What explains this low rate? Part of it is that yes, by separating periodically (pun intended), a husband and wife maintain their desire for one another.

    Ten to fifteen percent divorce rate? I’m sure that the fundamentalist Muslims agree with your assessment as they have told me many times but this is laughably flawed analysis. The real reason your divorce rate is so low is because your women are trapped and can’t get out. All fundamentalists keep their women uneducated and block them from having good money making careers. When women have the law on their side, state safety nets and their own money to spend then they have the power to get up and take their children and leave men who don’t treat them well. You flatter yourself to think that your women are happy when they and their children are under oppressive control. You think that a few days of no sexual contact will refresh her interest in you? No wonder fundamentalists control their women so closely. With that kind of dull sex and display of disgust over the state of female genitals I pity any woman who has to perform her marital duty for the rest of her life in these conditions.

  39. So, Laurie, let’s see: Only people who have rejected the “bad old ideas” are capable of displaying logic. Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.
    But this is quite beside the point. To a carefully worded, gentle post, you responded with an invective. I will not stoop to your level, but I will respond to your points:
    1. You have somehow figured out that our low divorce rate is do to our women having no careers and no outside life. Neither is the case. Today, most Orthodox women have careers outside the home. Many are lawyers, doctors, or even Ivankas (well, maybe not that rich!). In the home, they and their husbands work together to raise their families. You, as an outsider, have no right to tell us whether we are happy! But you are welcome to interview my wife and ask her.
    2. It is an ontological fact that familiarity breeds contempt. The reason for keeping niddah IS NOT that one keeps that feeling of newness in his/her sex life. The reason we keep the laws is that God commanded us to do so. But freshness is a great byproduct! And in truth, as one gets older and one has a somewhat lower sex drive, this particular benefit of separation recedes, which coincides well with women reaching menopause and not needing to separate. But I will tell you, Laura, once in a while I do miss those times of separation and renewal!
    3. Without getting graphic, I can assure you that we do not have “dull sex” and we do not consider genitals (male or female) to be “disgusting.” Quite the opposite; I don’t know where you are getting your mis-information. When you don’t know about something, kindly don’t comment on you; you just come off sounding ignorant.
    4. Not sure what you mean by “modern ethics.” Oh, are those the scientific ethics that led to the Holocaust?
    5. I don’t comment on other religions. I do believe there is good to be found in Islam and in Christianity.

    3.

  40. Avi Goldstein #40
    May 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

    The Talmudic Sages were well aware of the powerful sexual urge, and Jewish law seeks to direct that urge, not to discourage it!

    The need for fundamentalist religions to intrude and dominate people’s sex lives as a method of subjugation and domination, is well understood.

    We view sex as good, healthy, and part of normative life. Within the marital context, as long as the wife is tehorah (meaning she has gone to the mikveh)

    Breeding large numbers of new cult child members as a method of sustaining and spreading the meme, is also a feature – regardless of the poverty which can be produced as a result of large families where resources are limited!

  41. Avi Goldstein #42
    May 23, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    So, Laurie, let’s see: Only people who have rejected the “bad old ideas” are capable of displaying logic.

    Logic is a process of deduction and induction – (usually starting with physical evidence), NOT a badge to be stuck on to asserted preconceptions about conjured-up magical creations.

    Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.

    Err no! That is a strawman claim and an unevidenced assertion!

    The evolution of the Earth following its formation, is explained by the Giant impact hypothesis, as most astronomers and educated people know. This is an evidence based logical understanding of accretion events which are still observable and on-going in the Solar System!

  42. Alan, one is quite welcome not so subscribe to our attempt to “intrude and dominate people’s sex lives.” Just as the writer of the article did, one can choose not to follow the laws. But you are totally ignorant of Judaism if you think that we use sex as a method of “subjugation and domination.” Judaism views sex as a right for a woman, and it is her husband’s obligation to satisfy. If he refuses to, that is grounds for divorce (and the converse applies as well). Sorry, not like you moderns, with your “Fifty Shades of Subjugation.”

    The second statement is simply racist; I do not respond to racist comments.

    As for poverty, those who opt in to Orthodox Judaism know that birth control is allowed, depending on circumstance. Poverty is absolutely a circumstance that comes into play when deciding whether birth control is allowed.

  43. Avi Goldstein #45
    May 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    <em.Breeding large numbers of new cult child members as a method of sustaining and spreading the meme, is also a feature – regardless of the poverty which can be produced as a result of large families where resources are limited!

    The second statement is simply racist; I do not respond to racist comments.

    Really? The comment is about a number of religions (such as Catholicism), which discourage birth control! A religion is not a race – and religious conflicts may or may not be between groups of the same of different races!

    As for poverty, those who opt in to Orthodox Judaism know that birth control is allowed, depending on circumstance. Poverty is absolutely a circumstance that comes into play when deciding whether birth control is allowed.

    I’m glad to hear it as far as it goes , – but that has no bearing on my comment about some and religious groups or cults breeding large families in poverty!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_views_on_contraception

    The Jewish view on birth control currently varies between the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism. Among Orthodox Judaism, use of birth control has been considered only acceptable for use in limited circumstances.

    Many modern Jews feel that the benefits of contraception, be they female health, family stability, or disease prevention, uphold the commandment in Judaism to “choose life” much more strongly than they violate the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply”.

    But you are totally ignorant of Judaism if you think that we use sex as a method of “subjugation and domination.”

    A you saying your lives are not dominated by reporting your sex lives to rabbis, following particular dress codes, and carrying out strange behaviours or abstaining from various activities during the Sabbath?

    Observations of religion related behaviours on this website, are not confined to any one religion or sect of it!

  44. Modern ethics implies Holocaust, check.

    Fundamentalist religion comment implies Racist, check.

    This attempt to imply general criticism as anti-semitism is a poor show and needs to stop. It is not.

  45. Alan, “racism” usually is used in a broad sense, whether talking about a race or an ethnicity. However, if you would prefer to use the term “anti-Semitic,” that is fine.
    All I know is, if someone would say, for example, that blacks are “breeding” too much, the person would be deemed a racist. nuff said.

  46. Avi Goldstein #52
    May 23, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    The comment is about a number of religions (such as Catholicism), which discourage birth control!
    A religion is not a race – and religious conflicts may or may not be between groups of the same of different races!

    Alan, “racism” usually is used in a broad sense, whether talking about a race or an ethnicity.

    Perhaps you could explain the “race” or “ethnicity” of the Catholic example I gave? As I stated – a religion is not a race!

    However, if you would prefer to use the term “anti-Semitic,” that is fine.

    Is this an example “badge logic” in the absence of a reasoned response?

    All I know is, if someone would say, for example, that blacks are “breeding” too much, the person would be deemed a racist.

    This is a science site where biologists know the meaning of the term “race”! We also know the meaning of the term “religion”. The two are not interchangeable!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

    Race is the classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, ancestry, genetics, or social relations, or the relations between them.[1][2][3][4][5] First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations, by the 17th century race began to refer to physical (i.e. phenotypical) traits. The term was often used in a general biological taxonomic sense,[6] starting from the 19th century, to denote genetically differentiated human populations defined by phenotype.

    I have not encountered the “black religion” which disparages birth control and promotes large families! Perhaps you could explain which one it is?
    As far as I am aware people with black skins believe in a wide range of religions, and hold a diversity of views on contraception, just as the diverse religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, are followed by the the Semitic races of the Middle East!

    nuff said.

    It probably is if that’s your best attempt at producing a reasoned comment!

    @#42 – I don’t comment on other religions.

    It seems that because you don’t discuss them, you have difficulty in comprehending comments about them, and fail to see in them, the parallels with your own!

    It is quite common for those isolated in fundamentalist beliefs, to be unaware of the wider range of viewpoints held by the peoples of the world outside of their own limited religious circle!

  47. Avi Goldstein #57
    May 23, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I have been termed a “fundamentalist.”
    Would someone kindly explain what is meant by this word?

    Perhaps this will explain it, but it does cover a spectrum of religions, rather than just some sects of Judaism.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

    Fundamentalism is a movement to recapture an ideological “purity” within a religion, that supposedly has been lost by mainstream adherents of the religion at large.
    Fundamentalists often assert the primacy of their own idiosyncratic interpretation of religious texts over centuries of acquired knowledge and practice.
    This puts them at odds not only with the secular world and members of other religions, but also with their less zealous brethren.

  48. Avi Goldstein #56
    May 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Olgan, I don’t understand what she is saying; something about female witnesses and salesmen?

    She is talking about homosexuality, arranged marriages, and her personal situation!

    Olgun asked you what advice you would offer to her.

  49. Avi. Your use of terms implying anti-semitism from others here is wrong and must stop.

    Two classes of people breed unsustainably, the very poorest who need kids to help them survive better through illness and old age and the fundamentalist religious breeders, Catholics, Quiver-Full folk, and yourselves. Most other Christians and Muslims with high total fertility rates are simply dirt poor.

  50. Avi

    Only people who have rejected the “bad old ideas” are capable of displaying logic. Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.

    I expect you and everyone else on the face of this earth to challenge yourself to rethink all ideas whether they’re old or new. I expect you to realize that you’ve been indoctrinated into the religion that you currently defend and then do the best you can to recognize that most people on this earth have also been brainwashed into any number of diverse religions out there in the marketplace of ideas. Children believe anything but as an adult you have the freedom and obligation to pull forth all of these ideas and filter them through the framework that ethics provides. Is there harm? Based on the ethical obligations (I will present them if you would like that.) what is good and what is bad, valuable and not valuable and what is right and what is wrong. This is what I mean by modern ethics. This is training for the mind.

    If you’ve spent your entire life enclosed in an orthodox (fundamentalist, evangelical) bubble then how in the world can you understand how abysmally dark your understanding of morality must be? Yes there are a few old ideas that I have kept. There are aspects of traditional lifestyles that I retain but this is only after I have given them years of consideration and observation of their consequences. I’m prepared to defend, say, extended family living as I have on this site before. Not that it’s a perfect system but some of the trade offs are beneficial to women although there are a few downsides as well. But the bulk of the bad old ideas that were meme dumped into my brain by people around me when I was a child and the hours every week that I was forced to spend at the Methodist church were judged by me to be either useless or harmful.

    There is nothing good in that Bible or in the minds of those Protestants that I couldn’t have come up with on my own or from a secular source. In fact, it took me years to review those stupid memes and dispose of them with better replacements. I lost too much time. This leaves me very bitter.

    As for the physical world coming into being by itself, I have no problem with that statement but I don’t have the academic background to engage you in this discussion. If you think that there is an all powerful entity in the sky who snapped his fingers and designed a universe perfect for our existence then I’ll assume that you don’t have the chops for that discussion either. I will refer you to a book by Lawrence Krauss on this subject or any other
    qualified person. My field of study at University was experimental psych and I added a couple semesters after that with classes in the bio department, anthropology, etc. These classes were necessary for me to have some basic understanding of the discussions that take place here on this site. There’s no reason to beat around the bush with this though; I understand that science answers the questions of how this world came to exist, how life came to exist, how life came to take so many diverse forms and all of the anatomical and physiological processes that present in these myriad forms. There are still many mysteries to be solved. I’m not in a rush for these to be solved. The beauty is in the quest. I’m so lucky to be part of it.

    To a carefully worded, gentle post, you responded with an invective.

    By invective, do you mean the general tone of my comment or is there an ad hom in there somewhere? Of course an ad-hom demands an apology and if this is the case I will put that forth but surely you don’t expect a feminist, atheist, materialist to offer you up some smarmy smiling approval for ideas that I find repulsive, do you? You must realize which website you have wandered onto, right? I mean, you can write any vile ideas in gorgeous prose but if the ideas are rotten to the core then what I will offer you is the truth of my opinion. The ideas that you defend are ones that are disgusting to anyone who is not completely brainwashed in your ancient ideology.

    You, as an outsider, have no right to tell us whether we are happy!

    For women who are trapped in fundamentalist communities I hope they can find happiness somehow somewhere. I don’t even dare to tell them to leave. They rarely have the means to do so and I would never ask them to leave their children behind. You seem very confident that your little world is happy and stable. If I ever get one of your women aside in a one on one conversation I’ll bet my bottom dollar I’ll hear a different story. Don’t suggest that I have no business worrying about women from your community. That’s not how it works. When women suffer from oppression here or there or across the globe, I feel that. All women feel that and yes indeed, we are judging you.

    As a member of a community that has been persecuted relentlessly, surely you can identify with this.

    It is an ontological fact that familiarity breeds contempt.

    Thank you for providing an example of how we take ideas and churn them through some skeptical analysis. Let’s get rid of the ontological right off the bat. It adds nothing. I don’t believe that familiarity breeds contempt. That’s very harsh, don’t you think so? I think familiarity breeds a little ennui here and there. A little taking the other for granted. It’s not good. If the familiarity begins as children then the familiarity breeds Westermark’s effect…then there’ll be no breeding at all!! Haaa! Just a little evo-bio-psych joke there. Come on Avi, lighten up a little, will you please? That was wicked funny. But seriously, I’m trying to illustrate how these old memes need freshening up so fire up those old neurons and set them to the task. I know you can do it.

    once in a while I do miss those times of separation and renewal!

    Now Ari, this is purely lack of imagination. A little advice, book yourself and the Mrs into a cute little seaside resort in the South of France for as much time as you can afford. This will have wonderful effect that a dreary religious rite could never compete with. Make her feel special and ravish her for christ’s sake. She’s probably just as bored to death as you are. She’s a female of the species and that’s what’s wanted here. Now get that charge card out and take action instead of droning on about your tired rituals. What are you waiting for.

    When you don’t know about something, kindly don’t comment on you; you just come off sounding ignorant.
    4. Not sure what you mean by “modern ethics.” Oh, are those the scientific ethics that led to the Holocaust?
    5. I don’t comment on other religions. I do believe there is good to be found in Islam and in Christianity.

    I don’t need to be a scholar of the Talmud to discuss these simple ideas. I don’t have to respect these ideas just because they are old or held by many people or for any reason whatsoever. ALL ideas are fair game! Of course since you’ve incorporated some bad old ideas into the framework of your worldview you will have hurt feelings when I point out that they are harmful and unethical. I understand that your first impulse is to lash out with insults but please try not to do that right away. Think it through. I do know how difficult this process is. We all get our backs up over assertive challenges to what we hold dear. I do give you every credit for having the guts to venture forth here (even if we never agree on a single thing) when you must have known that there are readers who disagree with you. I don’t think you’re a bad person, just one who is under the influence of a powerful indoctrination, much of which isn’t your fault but now that you’ve engaged us here I will be very interested to see what you can do with the interaction that is provided.

    Also, I do believe that chucking around accusations of anti-semitism is a lazy and predictable tactic. Please Avi, don’t be predictable. 😉

  51. Alan, from the responses I have been getting, it seems that you folks, not we, are the intolerant ones. You cannot stand the fact that someone holds different beliefs than you (although, lacking any moral barometer, I am uncertain how you have any beliefs at all).
    But to address the part of your post that at least is somewhat sensical, no, we do not “report” our sex lives to our rabbis. Au contraire, our sex lives are private! Unlike your world, where everything goes and there are no moral restraints, we believe that a sense of modesty has value!
    Yes, we believe that on the Sabbath, we are restricted from certain activities. Thank God, I do not have seven days in my week. I have six days plus one entirely different day. I am thrilled every time the Sabbath commences and I am saddened when it ends. What a beautiful thing to be able to take one day off from the rigors, physical and mental, of the week! I recommend you try it.
    As for the “strange behaviors,” I am not certain which you mean.
    But yes, some things we do may seem strange to you. You have no concept of Judaism. You have no experiential evidence upon which to rely. You examine everything by your narrow-minded, anything goes barometer. That is truly sad.
    I am kind of surprised (well, not really) that an organization claiming to support open-mindedness is so closed-minded to others!

  52. Laurie, if you used the term “breeding” for blacks, you would be termed a racist, and rightly so. If you use that term with us, then yes, it is anti-Semitic.
    As for the rest of what you said, it is not I who has “lashed out,” it is you. I have maintained an even, reasoned tone. Others (perhaps not specifically you) have been much more ad hom; a sign, I believe, that they have no argument!
    I have addressed most of your points, but let me assure you, Laurie, one can faithfully observe our rituals and still check into a romantic resort, with whirlpool for two, and thoroughly enjoy themselves. there is no contradiction here.

  53. Avi

    What are you selling. Your wonderful life full of whirlpools and sex or the religion? If it is the latter then it clearly is not working for all and in particular women. Do you care or are you going to carry on ignoring people like that woman in the link. Bit much telling others their world is narrow when when you ignore whats going on around you.

    Please stop the victim stuff. Ive lost count. You are killing the conversation.

  54. Avi Goldstein #62
    May 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Alan, from the responses I have been getting, it seems that you folks, not we, are the intolerant ones. You cannot stand the fact that someone holds different beliefs than you

    On the contrary!
    I have studied many different beliefs and world views, and have evaluated them in terms of their long and short term effects on people, and the capability of people to cope with the problems of life.
    There are, and have been, literally thousands of religions and cultures in addition to yours.

    (although, lacking any moral barometer, I am uncertain how you have any beliefs at all).

    I don’t do beliefs from assumed preconceptions!
    I collect evidence based ideas which have been tested and shown to work, and then up-date them when valid new information becomes available.

    But to address the part of your post that at least is somewhat sensical, no, we do not “report” our sex lives to our rabbis. Au contraire, our sex lives are private!

    I thought this discussion was about women regularly consulting rabbis about sexual discharges! Did you miss that point? In the secular world they consult doctors if they think there is a problem.

    Unlike your world, where everything goes and there are no moral restraints,

    You clearly have no concept of secular morality or codes of conduct which involve empathy, reciprocal altruism, and consideration of other people. Humanism is about respecting humans, not gods.

    we believe that a sense of modesty has value!

    Modesty is a cultural concept frequently with indoctrinated shame about a person’s body image. The taboos come in many forms.

    Yes, we believe that on the Sabbath, we are restricted from certain activities. Thank God, I do not have seven days in my week. I have six days plus one entirely different day.

    I quite like days off work and weekends too, but I don’t need gods to arrange them for me or organise my activities.

    You have no concept of Judaism.

    There are considerable numbers of orthodox Jews living in my area.

    You have no experiential evidence upon which to rely.

    There are also quite a few secular Jews who participate in discussions on this site, although they usually base their comments on their associations with Jewish family members and evidence, rather than just making wild assumptions about the knowledge of others in discussions.

    You examine everything by your narrow-minded, anything goes barometer.

    You have no basis for thinking I accept an “anything goes” philosophy!

    That is truly sad.

    It is sad that you do not know how to seek out real information about other viewpoints, but are left looking at a blank when others say they do not accept all of your personal beliefs.

    I am kind of surprised (well, not really) that an organization claiming to support open-mindedness is so closed-minded to others!

    I think this psychological projection of your own lack of an open minded view of the world outside of your own belief bubble. You exhibit a lack of awareness, and seem to be struggling to even discuss other viewpoints.

    an organization claiming to support open-mindedness is so closed-minded to others!

    Unlike fundamentalists, those who embrace critical rational thinking and science, are very open minded, but examine ideas for evidenced support and validity before accepting them. Lack of acceptance does not imply a lack of knowledge or understanding.
    They are not open to having any old long refuted garbage poured into their heads.

    Sometimes when examining the stories in “holy books” they check and compare these with scientific or archaeological evidence and historical documents, rather than simply uncritically accepting the traditional folk-law versions.

  55. Avi Goldstein #63
    May 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Laurie, if you used the term “breeding” for blacks, you would be termed a racist, and rightly so.

    That is of course (once again) an irrelevant strawman diversion from the original issue of religious discouragement of contraception for the purpose of creating large families of believers.

    If you use that term with us, then yes, it is anti-Semitic.

    Nope! Arguing a false equivalence is a fallacy!
    Gratuitous allegations of anti-Semitism, are just a mentally lazy way of dodging answering valid criticisms – usually criticisms of:- damaging or repressive religious beliefs, the government of Israel, or Zionist literalist claims to be entitled to steal land from the previous owners whose families have lived on it for decades or centuries!

    That is one of the differences between the inflexible fixed preconceptions of fundamentalists, with their non-thinkers’ dogmatic answers, and those who are prepared to rationally debate issues and the interests of various parties, on their merits!

  56. Hey Avi,
    I have skimmed this thread so forgive me if someone has asked you this and you’ve already answered.

    First, may i say that I am perfectly accepting of you and your wife’s relationship, marriage, and the things that the two of you have consented to and loved and valued through out the course of your marriage. My take is as long as both consent and what manifests is strength and love, have at it.. and to me your methodologies are valid and seem very suited for you and your wife’s needs. I applaud you for finding such harmony and adopting practices that (again, due to your words) seem to heighten and deepen your love for each other.

    My questions. If your daughter-in-law did not want to adhere to your practices (after initially “believing” in them) would she be ostracized? Would you speak harshly to her. about her? How about your brothers children? Would there be gossip? If your grandson wanted to be baptized christian, would you disown him?

    If your daughter or son were gay, would they be “welcome” in your paradigm? If any of your family members identified as atheist, would it be a crisis?

    If you answer even “maybe” to any of these or if your answer is not a hardy and cheery “it would be fine”. Then, you are doing EXACTLY what LaurieB proffered above. See, pressure to conform is not always overt and obvious. It is not always actually verbalized. Sometimes menace can simply be shadowy and amorphous.

    So, tell me, are you inadvertently (I am sure) pressuring your family members into conformity? Are they truly free without risk of disowning and/or excommunication? I eagerly await your answers.

  57. Avi

    I have maintained an even, reasoned tone.

    Do you realize that you have lobbed a few insults at the regulars here? When you imply or state that non-religious people have no moral compass and are immodest and are illogical because we favor an explanation for the creation of the universe and life that is entirely science based, can you see that this can’t be interpreted as reasoned in tone? This is what the negative reactions are about.

    Even if you never change your religious worldview, aren’t you even slightly curious to know how we, the secular community, create a morality, a worldview and a whole community without the slightest need for a supernatural being?

    Here’s your chance to find out.

  58. Olgun, can’t take a bit of the truth? Can’t accept that people cannot be happy within a structured (somewhat) society?
    i am not “selling” anything. I am not trying to convince you or any other critic here. Judaism does not need excusing. We have a tradition, coming from God, that is thousands of years old. Our tradition has withstood the test of time. If you don’t like our rules, that is not our problem.
    But you are certainly guilty of engaging in ad hominem attacks, rather than addressing the issues at hand. How unfortunate.

  59. Laurie, I have not lobbed insults at anyone. If you took any of my words in that fashion, I apologize. To the contrary, it is I who have been called “illogical,” a “cult” member and worse.
    I did not say an atheist cannot be moral, but even if I did, that would not be an ad hominem, it would be an observation based on an assessment of atheism as a philosophy.
    Here is what I mean, and of course i welcome a reasoned response: When one believes in God, especially in an all-encompassing religious construct such as Judaism has, at least one has a basis for their moral views. For example, I believe that murder is wrong (I am referring to a classic case of, say, John murdering Steve because John decides he wishes to kill someone). The reason I believe John would be wrong is that I believe God commanded us not to murder.
    It is fair (not an ad hominem) to ask you, as an avowed atheist, whether you believe John is being immoral in murdering Steve, and if yes, why do you believe this. I think, Laurie, that this is a fair place to start, and I look forward to your response. Thanks. Avi

  60. Crookedshoes, sorry for the delay in responding. Thanks for your input, and indeed these are good and serious questions.
    if my daughter-in-law (just got my second one!) wished to opt out of the niddah laws, well, first of all, she would have to deal with my son, who would not continue in such a marriage. The penalty for having relations with a niddah is the same as for eating on Yom Kippur! But if, God forbid, I had a child who became not religious, I would be very saddened. However, gossip is not permitted in Jewish law, except in very limited circumstances. Simply to talk about someone is forbidden.
    If a child of mine were to become Christian, that would be another story. This is considered absolutely horrible. Not so long ago, such children were indeed “disowned,” and one would “sit shivah,” as if the child died. Today, while the sin remains a terrible one, we are cognizant that there are so many outside influences on even the most insular communities that the apostate’s fault is not entirely his/her own, and that it is better to maintain a connection.
    If my daughter or son chose to become gay, that too would be terrible, but i would not break off my connection with them, at the same time not welcoming a same-sex partner into my home.
    I doubt you will like these answers, but i think they are an accurate depiction of how most Orthodox Jews would react.

  61. at least one has a basis for their moral views

    Really? What would you do without your religion? Do you see non-believers killing and raping because they don’t have any morality?

    99 percent of inmates are “christians”.

  62. Avi #72

    can’t take a bit of the truth

    I have taken great care in claiming that religion doesn’t work for SOME people but you seem to have missed that.

    I am not trying to convince you or any other critic here

    But you come to an atheist site expecting a hallelujah and a praise the lord for every one of your posts. If not then….claim victim hood at every difficult question.

    I have no reason to attack you, though you tried rile me by deliberately misspelling my name in an attempt to divert attention from my question. That part actually showed me how far my internet savvy has grown as these sort of attacks were and are still being used by trolls on the net. Starts with a nursery school name calling followed by diversion and then, this-

    Others (perhaps not specifically you) have been much more ad hom; a
    sign, I believe, that they have no argument

    -covering your behind for anyone else that might ask why you didn’t answer the question. You are behaving exactly like a troll even if you are not or realise you are doing it. It is evasive and adds not a jot to the conversation.

    I am genuinely happy that you are happy within the structure of your choice but not to acknowledge those that are not is immoral. What does your religion say about those less fortunate than yourself? Ignore them? Feel anger at them because they dare speak up?

    Those are the truths Avi but you are not interested in that.

    Now, again, what advise will you offer this woman , who is of your own faith, based on what you know your religion requires of you in these circumstances. If you are following religious lines in ignoring her suffering then do you have a moral opinion outside of it, like the rest of us here.

  63. Avi Goldstein #71
    May 23, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Laurie, I have not lobbed insults at anyone. If you took any of my words in that fashion, I apologize.
    To the contrary, it is I who have been called “illogical,”

    Logic is a description of arguments. If you make claims your assertions are “logical” as a badge of “authority”, when they are purely assertions with no deductive process included, that is illogical!
    Statements of fact about the structure of arguments, are not insults! Being wrong is not being insulted!

    a “cult” member and worse.

    Are you suggesting that your religious group is not a denomination, sect, or cult of Judaism? That would be a position which is rather hard to support!

    I did not say an atheist cannot be moral, but even if I did, that would not be an ad hominem, it would be an observation based on an assessment of atheism as a philosophy.

    There is no such thing as “an atheist philosophy”!
    Atheism is an absence of belief in gods, so any supposed supposed “observation” of some imagined “atheist philosophy” is purely in your imagination. Atheists hold a diversity of philosophies as do the followers of various religions.
    There is no “standard” atheist or “religious” philosophy, except in the imaginary, self deluding, dichotomous bubble, of “mine and the wrong ONE”!

    Here is what I mean, and of course i welcome a reasoned response: When one believes in God, especially in an all-encompassing religious construct such as Judaism has, at least one has a basis for their moral views.

    Actually all one has is the opportunity to copy the tribalist “moral views” which have been passed down in folk-law from the warring bronze-age tribes!

    For example, I believe that murder is wrong (I am referring to a classic case of, say, John murdering Steve because John decides he wishes to kill someone).

    “Murder” is a crime defined by state laws enacted by whatever legislative regime is in power locally. Killing is quite often approved by states when they want soldiers or rebel groups to do their dirty work.

    The reason I believe John would be wrong is that I believe God commanded us not to murder.

    If you are taking this from the Bible/Torah, “murder” would be killing a fellow member of the tribe. The texts are full of applause for killing people from other religions or other tribes.
    That is the “in-crowd” – “outsiders”, divisive dichotomy of most religions.

    Most atheists would comply with state laws to respect their fellow man, but there could be exceptions in militaristic repressive states, where state elites abuse the general population or particular minorities.

    The fundamental difference between secular states and theocracies or political ideological states, is that secular states generally seek equality before the law for all, whereas theocracies seek privileged positions for the followers of particular religions or ideologies.

    That is why there are mass killings in religious wars between theocracies based on different religions!

    @#72 – If a child of mine were to become Christian, that would be another story. This is considered absolutely horrible. Not so long ago, such children were indeed “disowned,” and one would “sit shivah,” as if the child died.

    . . . and you suggest that it the atheists who accept civilised debate between differing world views, who are “intolerant” of others!

    Today, while the sin remains a terrible one, we are cognizant that there are so many outside influences on even the most insular communities that the apostate’s fault is not entirely his/her own, and that it is better to maintain a connection.

    That is the problem with the mind-slavery of sects and cults.
    There is no respect for rational debate or toleration of other viewpoints. That is why the antiquated ignorance-based on bronze-age preconceptions of dogmas resist up-dating in the light of new evidence-based information.

    If my daughter or son chose to become gay, that too would be terrible, but i would not break off my connection with them,

    This is simply an assertion of bigoted ignorance!
    Children do not “choose” to become homosexual, trans-sexual, intersex or hermaphrodite! This is a medical condition derived from their embryological development in the womb. As biologists know, the dichotomy of male and female is not absolute – neither in humans nor in other organisms. Some species of fish for example, often change sex at some stage in their lives.

    at the same time not welcoming a same-sex partner into my home.

    If you had a disabled child who was a wheelchair user, would you also refuse their fellow wheelchair using partner admission?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38730291

    Intersex people are born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics.

    According to the United Nations, the condition affects up to 1.7% of the world’s population.

    These are the sorts of issues where atheists challenge the bigoted ignorance-based bronze-age pseudo-morality of religious dogmas which go in for abusive victim blaming!

  64. Avi Goldstein #70
    May 23, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Judaism does not need excusing.

    Some of the actions of its followers do – unless those involved take the simplistic view –
    actions of my tribe – right or wrong = good.
    conflicting actions by others- right or wrong = bad.

    We have a tradition, coming from God, that is thousands of years old.

    The origins and evolution of this god from the polytheistic Canaanite pantheon, are being progressively researched by archaeologists and anthropologists.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Canaanite_religion

    However thousands of other religions can make similar claims, and have, or have had, followers making similar claims to yours!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_deities

    Do you have some evidence that your claims have any more substance than theirs?

  65. @#75 – The fundamental difference between secular states and theocracies or political ideological states,
    is that secular states generally seek equality before the law for all,
    whereas theocracies seek privileged positions for the followers of particular religions or ideologies.

    Here is an example of this:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40012047

    Taiwan’s top judges have ruled in favour of gay marriage, paving the way for it to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions.

    The highest court ruled that current laws preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated their right to equality and were unconstitutional.

  66. All this seems far afield from the original topic, which was Katia Aryeh’s misrepresentation of Orthodox Judaism. But strayed we have. Rather than respond to some of the more silly asides, I will focus on two issues: the morality of murder and the issue of homosexuality.
    Re murder, rather than addressing my crystal clear question: Does an atheist believe John can kill Steve simply because John feels like it, and if not, why not, Alan chose to dodge the issue, in the interim misrepresenting the Torah (no, Alan, according to Jewish law, the rule against murder IS NOT limited to one of the “tribe.” He also introduced other non-related issues (e.g., the nature of the particular state.
    I am asking a simple question. As an atheist, do you believe John can kill Steve for no reason, and if not, why not?

  67. Regarding homosexuality, the fact that in the past couple of decades advocacy groups have managed to convince many people that sexual “orientation” is inborn does not make it so.

  68. Oops, I clicked Send too early!
    From a traditional Jewish perspective, the question of sexual “preference” or “orientation” is irrelevant. One can feel something and not act upon it. I may be born with an innate sense that I need to steal things. My goal in life would then become to restrain myself so that I don’t steal. That is part of the challenge of life.

  69. Avi Goldstein #80
    May 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Regarding homosexuality, the fact that in the past couple of decades advocacy groups have managed to convince many people that sexual “orientation” is inborn does not make it so.

    However – a study of biology and embryology clearly identifies a range of intersex conditions! – which is why those using evidence and reason are prevailing over those dependent on bronze-age prejudices and assertions!
    (You see I am a biologist who reads medical text books and biological studies, rather than bronze age-guesswork wearing a god-badge!)

    Could I recommend some study of the actual subject at a top international medical reference site!

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003269.htm

    Ambiguous genitalia is a birth defect where the outer genitals do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl.

    The male and female reproductive organs and genitals both come from the same tissue in the fetus. If the process that causes this fetal tissue to become “male” or “female” is disrupted, ambiguous genitalia can develop. This makes it difficult to easily identify the infant as male or female. The extent of the ambiguity varies. In very rare instances, the physical appearance may be fully developed as the opposite of the genetic sex. For example, a genetic male may have developed the appearance of a normal female.

    You seem to have missed answering this question.

    Alan @75 – If you had a disabled child who was a wheelchair user, would you also refuse their fellow wheelchair using partner admission?

    Avi Goldstein #81
    May 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

    From a traditional Jewish perspective, the question of sexual “preference” or “orientation” is irrelevant.

    It is however not irrelevant to those born intersex, and who see no particular reason to live sexually repressed lives, simply because some religious groups embrace bigoted dogmas and feel an urge to interfere in other people’s sex lives!

  70. Avi Goldstein #79
    May 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

    I will focus on two issues: the morality of murder and the issue of homosexuality.
    Re murder, rather than addressing my crystal clear question: Does an atheist believe John can kill Steve simply because John feels like it, and if not, why not,

    First of all, people who are not psychopaths do not casually kill people anyway. Usually they need a strong motive!

    Your problem in understanding a secular morality, seems to stem from an indoctrinated version of “morality”, which says you must behave in certain ways, because a vengeful big-brother god, is watching you, and without this oversight, believers will run amok!
    A secular humanist view, is that societies need to establish laws and manage their own moral codes of conduct, based on equality of rights, mutual co-operation, and altruism. with individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.

    Alan chose to dodge the issue, in the interim misrepresenting the Torah (no, Alan, according to Jewish law, the rule against murder IS NOT limited to one of the “tribe.”

    Perhaps you could explain the various accounts of acclaimed killings and genocides against rival states, rival tribes, and rival religions.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/genocide.html
    And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. Deuteronomy 2:34

    He also introduced other non-related issues (e.g., the nature of the particular state.

    I tried to give a vague meaningless question some context.
    When discussing the legal term “murder”, the local state laws are relevant. – Particularly where military activity is involved.

  71. Avi,
    I do not like your answers, you are correct, but I do like you and if you were my son and (my family is devoutly catholic) YOU decided to convert to your orthodox Judaism, I’d not only support you, but I’d try to use reason to convince anyone in the family that had a problem with your choice to support you in your strides toward happiness to rethink their stance. We are fundamentally different on this point, you and I. And, in my system of morals, you are extraordinarily morally corrupt on this point.

    More importantly, I also find your other answers deeply, deeply immoral. So, the high ground that you feel you come from because “you have a tradition thousands of years old, dictated from god” is an illusion. Sadly, of the two of us, I am the only one who can see this illusion and you are not only living as if it is absolute truth (and to you it may be, and I support you in your acceptance of it as YOUR absolute truth), but you are clearly being “kindly tyrannical” to your family and friends.

    So many of your answers, although accepted and routine in your perspective are exactly the smiling hate we all have come to expect from folks who purport to be “doing god’s work”.

    ie. “She would have to deal with my son….”

    you are awfully confident in your son’s reaction. What if HE surprised you?

    There is this song called “I’ll follow you down”, I don’t expect everyone has heard it but the basic premiss is that the singer loves this girl enough to fall from grace for her… (hence follow her down)… Do you have love like that? I DO. I DO > I DO> I DO>>>>>>>>> I sing my happiness with my wife and my life.

    It makes me happy and I have a right to it. But see I’ve supported you and your happiness and you’d EXPECT me to lose mine if I were your son and that is nonsense. And, that is precisely where your beliefs hurt others. you have a right to your happiness but you most expressly do not have a right to interfere with anyone else’s ANYONE else’s. And my sentiment (of not judging others) is clearly stated in your own Holy books and YOU choose to flout them…

    Here’s a bit to chew on:

    Our sages ask, when are you allowed to judge another person? The
    answer: Never. The explanation given is as follows: Who says your
    blood is redder than his? (Talmud – Sanhedrin 74a)

    In my opinion, the exact thing you’ve lost sight of is that it is the HAPPINESS your belief system brings you that should be what you urge others to seek and pursue in their lives, NOT THE BELIEF SYSTEM. If these scenarios I’ve presented make the individual HAPPY, and as HAPPY as your belief system makes you, then why why why do you think you have the right to judge and pressure a person to fit their “happy” into your mold?

  72. Avi Goldstein #70
    May 23, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    We have a tradition, coming from God, that is thousands of years old.

    No you don’t. You have a tradition that came purely from men inventing stuff to suit themselves and ascribing it to an imaginary god, and I mean men in the male sense because almost exclusively women had little say in the origins of the ancient religions which is why they are so discriminated against in them. There is no more evidence for the existence of your particular imaginary god than there is for Shiva, Ra, Thor, Zeus or any of the other thousands of gods who have come and gone but you believe in yours because that’s what you were indoctrinated to believe in because of who your parents were and where you were born. End of.

    If you had been born in Saudi Arabia you’d be a Muslim, India probably a Hindu, China an atheist, The USA probably a Christian. You are just a product of your particular childhood brainwashing.

    You can happily disavow all those other religions, current and extinct, as made up, inventions of man, no real god involved but yet you can’t see the same must surely apply to your own imaginary god. However childhood brainwashing is very hard to overcome. We understand that and are saddened by it. Where it becomes obnoxious is when you pontificate that atheists can’t have any moral compass because they don’t have an imaginary sky pixie telling them what to do. I don’t need one of those to tell me that pulling the wings off butterflies is cruel any more than I need one to tell me that murder of a human being is wrong. I simply think it’s right to treat everyone else, animals included, as one would wish to be treated oneself. No imaginary god needed for thinking that’s so simple and straightforward.

  73. Hi Avi. I am one of the secular Jews Alan mentioned and a semi regular contributor here. A few of the people that were kind enough to engage with you here (I generally don’t have the patience for these kinds of discussions seeing early on, as the others certainly did, that we would not be able to make any headway when the dogma is so thick) have done so, I assure you, in a measured, mannered way. They have the patience of Job if that makes you more comfortable. You have also conducted yourself this way, just with a message we cannot rationally appreciate. I use the word rationally on purpose. I will remind you again of where you are choosing to post. I have a feeling that if one of us chose to post our atheistic/humanistic beliefs on an Orthodox Jewish blog I am not sure the reception would be quite so warm. Clearly you are not taking the time to peruse the links you’ve been provided or truly consider the information kindly being shared. You need to understand that we are as incapable of believing in your sky god as you are in his absence. But let me be clear on this point: we are NOT incapable of considering it rationally however. It’s just that it doesn’t take that much consideration to come to the conclusion that there are far better rational explanations for these things, much elucidated from my patient fellow posters. I’m not sure you’re considering any of the concepts being presented to you rationally. That seems anathema to your dogma. And regarding morality, anyone who needs a sky god dictator to keep them in line, lest they succumb to the latent immorality apparently brimming right beneath the surface, is no one I’d want to spend any time with. We would never have evolved without an innate morality. This much is clear.

    @crooked – smiling hate. I love that. And I shall steal that with attribution (with your permission).

  74. Yes, “smiling hate”. Love that. I’ll coin one of my own. “Spewing venom in calm measured tones”.

    I remember Richard debating with some bat shit crazy blonde American woman years ago who spoke in the quietest calmest voice that nothing could upset but everything that came out of her mouth was pure poison. Also Ted Haggard raging against gays whilst paying male prostitutes for sex and calling the police against Richard because he discussed evolution (he accused me of being a monkey).

  75. Alan, “intersex” is already covered by our Sages in the Talmud, with the laws that particularly pertain to them, given their uncertain status. Of course, if you don’t believe in the laws, they are irrelevant, but we are well aware of this nature and have dealt with it.
    It has nothing, however, to do with homosexual conduct!

  76. Steven, the only reason I posted was because Katia Aryeh’s article was so misleading. It was not my intent to seek out a secular site just to post! However, I will note that it seems you prefer insularity, that is, you prefer not to engage in discussion with those who disagree with you.
    I have no such issue, I am much more open-minded.

  77. Alan, you wrote: “A secular humanist view, is that societies need to establish laws and manage their own moral codes of conduct, based on equality of rights, mutual co-operation, and altruism. with individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.”
    Now we are talking! We all agree that societies need to establish laws. As the Sages put it (and we can all agree on this, I think): If not for a stable government and laws, “people would eat each other alive.” Not all people, not most, but enough to rip society apart. So we agree, we need laws.
    The laws against, say, murder, are meant so that society is not destroyed. And indeed, if someone murders, we put him/her in prison so that society’s safety is assured.
    But this has nothing to do with morality! When you say that society’s mores should be founded upon equal rights, cooperation, and altruism, why? What makes you think these are positive values? Indeed, what makes you think there are values at all? It is this issue that particularly interests me.
    By the way, this has nothing to do with the original posted article. Obviously you would (or should) agree that a self-managing group (such as Orthodox Jews) can have its own rules, as long as it is not forcing others to keep those rules. I would fully agree with that notion. I await your response. Thanks.

  78. Avi Goldstein

    I am asking a simple question. As an atheist, do you believe John can kill Steve for no reason, and if not, why not?

    Hello,

    I, like Steven 007, am a secular Jew – or a “Jewish” atheist. I would say that I am absolutely prohibited (from within!) from committing murder. And as I have never been religions and come from a family of non-religious people and have had very little contact with orthodox Jews and no very little about Judaism. I can only assume that that feeling of murder (and rape and stealing, and hurting people) being wrong does not, cannot come from any God. God to me and to many compassionate and humane agnostics and atheists is simply Nothing. This sense of prohibition does not come from the State either, i.e., the fear of punishment.

    It is not an easy thing to explain; these are complex questions, and they should be asked. Empathy, being civilized, caring about others… All those things have developed willy-nilly over the centuries, but not enough, as violence and hate and cruelty is still so prevalent, prevalent among religious Jews and Christians and Muslims (and their non-believing counterparts as well). But what can be established beyond a doubt is that that profound aversion to killing that I referenced, along with the sense of right and wrong and the sense of justice, and the appreciation and concern (empathy) for other people’s right to live (a natural right) which I and so many other non-believers feel and have a sense of, must be, if logically considered, something quite independent of your lawgiving deity.

    Moreover, if the only thing that prevents “John” or yourself or anyone else killing “Steve” or anyone else, is a God that you know nothing about and that has no qualities at all, is immaterial, is little more than a word, an idea, then please stay religious. We have enough homicides in the world. The prisons are filled with homicidal maniacs. So for all of our sakes, stay religious until you figure out how you as a man, an individual with your own set of values and sensibilities, feel about killing – and not a child or soldier taking orders from Big Daddy in the Sky. (Yes, I am expressing some disdain.) If “God” is the only thing that can hold you back, in the heat of passion, from wielding the knife or the sword, then stay religious, please.

    Many Holy Books do advocate killing. Must people put themselves in a position where they have to pick and choose which laws God meant and which ones he didn’t or which ones he might not care as much about and go through life that way? Did you read what someone had written above about all the different religions all saying different things? No. Religion cannot possibly last; no lie can live forever.

    Those are some of my thoughts.

    Regards,

  79. Avi Goldstein #88
    May 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Alan, “intersex” is already covered by our Sages in the Talmud,
    with the laws that particularly pertain to them, given their uncertain status.
    Of course, if you don’t believe in the laws, they are irrelevant,
    but we are well aware of this nature and have dealt with it.

    Perhaps you could explain how this is dealt with.

    It has nothing, however, to do with homosexual conduct!

    Actually it does, because the brain development governing sexual attraction, is similarly affected by hormonal effects on the embryo in the womb.

    Avi Goldstein #45 – May 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Alan, one is quite welcome not so subscribe to our attempt to “intrude and dominate people’s sex lives.”

    I recall this earlier comment, but it appears when it comes to homosexuals and intersex people, you express an urge for friends and family to bring pressure to bear on then in exactly that way!

    You went on to say you regard one of your children being a homosexual “would be terrible”.

    But you are totally ignorant of Judaism if you think that we use sex as a method of “subjugation and domination.”

    and you say that you would discriminate against any partner they lived with!

    So which is it? Is sex “a private matter” between partners, or are homosexual relationships to be intruded upon and harassed?

    Then there are these conflicting claims:

    Just as the writer of the article did, one can choose not to follow the laws.

    It seems that children can’t mature and decide to grow out of ancient beliefs without being disowned or ostracised as apostates – as you explain in this comment!

    If a child of mine were to become Christian,
    that would be another story.
    This is considered absolutely horrible.
    Not so long ago, such children were indeed “disowned,”
    and one would “sit shivah,” as if the child died.

    There seem to be conflicting claims and compartmentalised thinking in your comments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_(psychology)

    Perhaps there are some reasons here in threats to apostates, why you seem to have mental blocks making you unable to follow the reasoning which challenges some of your mistaken preconceptions.

  80. I am much more open-minded.

    Ha! Well Avi I appear to have underestimated your smiling hate and condescension. It’s rich assuming that you’re the one with the open mind. And if I preferred insularity I would not have posted. What I disdain however is arguing with a dogmatic close minded person which you quite clearly are. There’s a great big world outside the shul and your kosher home. This world is no less valid than yours. Indeed it allows yours to exist by several means I’ll allow you to presume. I won’t hold my breath.

  81. Avi Goldstein #90
    May 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Alan, you wrote: “A secular humanist view, is that societies need to establish laws and manage their own moral codes of conduct, based on equality of rights, mutual co-operation, and altruism. with individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.”

    These are of course worked out by people making informed judgements on predicted outcomes and balancing the interests of various parties.
    For example professions such as doctors have codes of conduct, which most follow voluntarily, but which include sanctions against rogue individuals.

    Now we are talking! We all agree that societies need to establish laws. As the Sages put it (and we can all agree on this, I think): If not for a stable government and laws, “people would eat each other alive.” Not all people, not most, but enough to rip society apart. So we agree, we need laws.

    However laws as I explained should be based on evidence and predicted outcomes, not ancient superstitions.

    The laws against, say, murder, are meant so that society is not destroyed. And indeed, if someone murders, we put him/her in prison so that society’s safety is assured.

    Actually no! Most systems are less than perfect, and many are corrupt! That is where the objective evaluation of various political systems comes in.

    But this has nothing to do with morality! When you say that society’s mores should be founded upon equal rights, cooperation, and altruism, why? What makes you think these are positive values? Indeed, what makes you think there are values at all?

    The values are chosen by the people of the community. Those law makers who honestly take responsibility for their legislation, and seek expert science based advice, are to be preferred to those who try to stick badges of “authority” onto unevidenced preconceptions, ideological notions or superstitions.

    It is this issue that particularly interests me.

    All laws and codes of conduct are the work of humans, including those which some try to enhance by sticking a god-badge on to them.

    By the way, this has nothing to do with the original posted article.

    Actually, it does because it looks at the sources of ideas and mental processes directing the behaviour patterns under discussion.

    I recognise god-beliefs as a mental delusion created by childhood indoctrination. “God-did-it” explanations are simply a patch which is put over personal ignorance of the workings of the physical world. These are sometimes referred to as “God-of-gaps” explanations. In science, if we don’t know, we say we don’t know, but hope to investigate and find out.
    In theology the claims are made to know the unknown by claiming “god-did-it”!

    That is why I referred you the the evolution of the Earth @#44, when you raised the issue.

    Obviously you would (or should) agree that a self-managing group (such as Orthodox Jews) can have its own rules, as long as it is not forcing others to keep those rules.

    Groups form their own rules, but it is perfectly reasonable to evaluate the effects of these on members, relations of member, friends of members, children of members and members who wish to leave the group.

    As with politics in general applications of rules are open to abuses, so criticism and in extreme cases actions are justified. There are many examples where authority figures in religions (sometimes in league with politicians), abuse their positions to the detriment of their members.

    I would fully agree with that notion. I await your response. Thanks.

    Not only are many regular posters on this site well read, but many are ex-Christians, from Muslim families or are secular Jews. There is a wide ranging understanding of religions and their effects in societies.

  82. Alan, you wrote:
    “The values are chosen by the people of the community.”

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter). Would that be okay with you?
    I think we are centering on the problem!

  83. My set of questions sure seems to have exposed the closed mind and smiling hate (trademark pending). Let’s recapitulate the past few days:

    Avi would regard his son being homosexual as terrible.
    Avi’s clear bullying of his son has resulted in a child who would divorce the love of his life if she dared DARED to drift away from AVI’s beliefs (which of course MUST be his sons) — so YES she would be ostracized.
    Anyone wishing to worship in a different way or pray different prayer would meet harsh nastiness AVI was not clear as to exactly what he’d do, but he’d react somewhere in the continuum between “maintain contact” and sit shiva and act LIKE THE CHILD DIED.
    To AVI “gay” is a choice and just because a few “fringe groups” (kettle, black much?) have LOBBIED to change everyone’s mind doesn’t make it true…. wow. The cognitive dissonance and absolute lack of self awareness is staggering.

    He has also managed to evade my last exchange that ended with:

    In my opinion, the exact thing you’ve lost sight of is that it is the
    HAPPINESS your belief system brings you that should be what you urge
    others to seek and pursue in their lives, NOT THE BELIEF SYSTEM. If
    these scenarios I’ve presented make the individual HAPPY, and as HAPPY
    as your belief system makes you, then why why why do you think you
    have the right to judge and pressure a person to fit their “happy”
    into your mold?

    And, i fear that evasion was/is willful evasion because the point is very very hard to argue. AVI would rather block his family member’s happiness here and now to “force them to do what’s right in his eyes” so that they qualify for an afterlife that Jewish scholars have serious doubts even exists.

    In my lifetime of experience with people of all stripes (21 years working in public schools, 12 years working in public prison, 15 years working in private hospitals, 4 summers working at private universities) and all the people I’ve met as a gregarious, outgoing “friend maker”–extrovert…. the really badly behaving and really mean, bully children/adults never ever look like what you’d envision.

    Sometimes/many times:

    Guy with his hair parted on the side, accountant, clean shaven, neat orderly???? Serial killer. (see: Dahmer)
    Guy with tattoos, long hair, pockmarks, and a scowl… would give you the shirt off his back. (see: most bikers)

    This is a clear case of that phenomenon.

  84. Re my comment 91

    And as I have never been religions and come from a family of non-religious people and have had very little contact with orthodox Jews and no very little about Judaism. I can only assume…

    Corrected sentence:

    And as I have never been religions and come from a family of non-religious people and have had very little contact with orthodox Jews and know very little about Judaism, I can only assume…

    I would also add that as the atheist Dr. Jonathan Miller admitted, we do owe religion, the Christian religion in particular, a certain debt of gratitude; it helped to move the evolution of our moral idea of brotherly love along. But morality is not from God.

  85. Avi—

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter). Would that be okay with you?

    No, that would not be okay with Alan or with any of us. It would be dreadful. But that is the world we live in and the struggle for humane laws and justice is continuous, and cruelty and injustice and bigotry, etc. is something we must contend with.

    But let’s say that God (that celestial dictator), that a Holy Book (written by men and disguised as Holy) – perhaps one that hasn’t yet been written yet – decides what is moral or not moral, who we should kill or not kill. That is far, far more dangerous, far more insidious – and you know it. Yes you have centered on a fundamental problem.

  86. I wrote:

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter). Would that be okay with you?

    Dan responded:
    No, that would not be okay with Alan or with any of us. It would be dreadful. But that is the world we live in and the struggle for humane laws and justice is continuous, and cruelty and injustice and bigotry, etc. is something we must contend with.

    Dan, what I am asking is: Why would it not be okay with you? I am not seeing an answer to this question.
    I will note that I had the same discussion recently with my brother, a practicing, believing Orthodox Jew who maintains that one can devise a moral code without religion. But my brother, along with all the posters on this site, has been unable to logically explain why this moral code would have any standing or any validity. What makes something right or wrong? To this, I have not heard an answer from the atheists on this site or from my believing brother, much as he wants to side with you.

  87. To clarify further:
    I am not saying that there CANNOT be a system of morality devised by atheists. I am saying that as of yet, I have not heard a cogent rationale for it. I am open to suggestions!

  88. Avi Goldstein #95
    May 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Alan, you wrote:

    “The values are chosen by the people of the community.”
    >

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians

    That is why I mentioned state laws in my earlier comment on murder which you seemed to miss!

    Avi – He also introduced other non-related issues (e.g., the nature of the particular state.

    Would that be okay with you?

    Of course not – I explained secular values earlier. There needs to be various bodies to hold those in authority accountable.
    When particular religions dominate the local legislatures national legislatures, police and the courts, actions of religious authorities are looked at through rosy spectacles, and we get the sorts of covered up abuses, such as Catholic priests raping children with impunity.

    We also get abusive religious customs such as female genital mutilation, “honour” killings, and assassinations of apostates.

    I think we are centering on the problem!

    Not really! I think you are still having a problem with:- “If big brother is not watching you, why don’t you run amok”?

    It’s like comparing the evolution of the solar system with “God-did-it-by-magic-in-7-days! The former view require a LOT more study!
    It is the same with making the effort of developing the ability to work out your own code of conduct, V copying a simplistic one which is spoon-fed to you.

    (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter).

    Those who talk about “unborn babies”, usually don’t know the biology of zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and foetuses.

    Science based decisions on abortions are determined by survivability without debilitating complications affecting the baby or the mother, and the later potential life quality of the infant.

  89. Avi #100

    You are going to have to stick around and join in with discussions on how the brain works, evolution and animal behaviour, to name a few, and be as open minded as you are to suggestions, if you want an answer that you might be happy with. Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.

  90. Avi Goldstein #100
    May 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    To clarify further:
    I am not saying that there CANNOT be a system of morality devised by atheists.
    I am saying that as of yet,
    I have not heard a cogent rationale for it. I am open to suggestions!

    No systems are perfect, and all systems are devised by humans – past or present.

    Atheists take responsibility for theirs, work to improve them, and learn from any mistakes.

    Theists pretend theirs come from their gods, and that the inadequacies or negative effects in these, are “the divine will”, nothing to do with them!

    ” Mine is better and unchangeable because it is wearing a god-badge”, is really rather childish! – especially when we look at all the conflicting doctrines and dogmas of the numerous religions, sects, and cults, and the huge range of god-badges involved!

    Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!

  91. Olgun #102
    May 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.

    Reciprocal altruism – “The Selfish Gene” – Richard Dawkins – Chapter 10, Page 183 to 188.

  92. Avi #99

    Why would it not be okay to kill people in a given secular community? That’s a very good question, and a tough one, Avi. I think every individual and every community, every culture, and every epoch, develops it ideas of what is permissible and what isn’t? These ideas and arguments are debated and it is rare to find a society where there is universal agreement about what should be considered right and proper and what is considered wrong and improper. And it is not always certain why truth is to be preferred to lies and why compassion, justice and mercy is to be preferred to their opposites; an argument can conceivably be made that killing the “feeble minded” or the sick is a practical necessity which may “benefit” the state as a whole, in spite of the suffering those unfortunates would have to endure, etc. With regards to the State, I would say that in a democracy, where people are allowed to worship as they wish and to speak their minds and be who they are, its citizens should be able to enjoy their natural right of freedom to exist (assuming that they are able to obey reasonable laws), to live their lives, without fear of being arrested or persecuted or punished, without being criminalized. Dictators are always capricious and always impose their paltry will upon the freedom and the pursuit of happiness of others, trample on that right. Democracy is a state of grace, easily lost; laws concerning justice are a delicate thing too, based often on consensus. But that is the nature of morality with regards to the State. (Perhaps this basic uncertainty as to why one must not do this or that has given rise for the need on the part of many for some kind of ultimate authority on these matters.)

    “I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”
    ― Norman Mailer

    Murder as a way of life is not an isolated issue; it is bound up inextricably with such things as justice and truth. To condone murder is to deny justice and to affirm lies (such as those based on prejudice or a false sense of moral superiority).

    Why is it better not to kill? Because we as individuals have risen above the egotism of brutes, because we regard indifference to human life as depraved. Persecution and murder based on capricious laws or the need to control in order to maintain power is not only impractical, it is based on a system that is unsustainable as it is based on lies and on vice – and all lies and all vice eventually do harm and destroy those who engage in them in the end. From a mere pragmatic point of view such a way of life where killing is considered lawful or acceptable would make life impossible. But more importantly than any pragmatic reasons why an individual shouldn’t kill, we as individuals must all develop our own sense of moral values; I regard indifference to the suffering or unjust, unreasonable persecution of others, as depraved, contrary to what is good, right, decent, and proper. I get these values from many sources, from what I have been taught by those around me, moral philosophers, and most importantly, from within myself, my own nature; it is, finally, the ability to feel another’s pain as if it were my own, to identify with others, which prohibits me. (The question as to whether this is learned or not does not belong here; let us assume it is learned, for clearly it can be.) The opposite of this is base egotism. It comes from no law although the laws are a practical necessary to keep selfish men from preying on others which is no basis for organizing a civilized society that aspires towards the (cultural and aesthetic) Good or that has any affinity with Beauty.

    Thou Shalt Not Kill is a flimsy thing indeed designed, presumably, for criminal-types and accepted by malleable, pathetic, hoodwinked half-men and half-women who have no sense of their own personal dignity or the dignity of others, and would or might be inclined to kill or do harm without such messages of prohibition, sent by a man-made God. The strength of the prohibition is proportionate to the latent desire to commit the crime. Gods are made in the image of Man and his laws cannot be relied on. Moral goodness is good if you value the well-being of others as you value your own well-being, and that is, finally, something one must develop feelings about and come to one’s own decision about as one moves through life; but the affirmation or denial of such goodness or the rejection of the very idea of goodness itself even, are feelings and decisions generated by human social life and by individuals in their relationships to themselves, each other, and those in power. Gods and goddesses belong to the realm of mythology.

    One last thought, the quintessence of existentialism:

    When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
    —Abraham Lincoln

  93. Alan, you quoted your god as saying: “Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.”
    That’s pretty shallow; you cant do better?

  94. Alan, you wrote (sorry I don’t know how to get this into orange type, as you guys are doing):
    “Theists pretend theirs come from their gods, and that the inadequacies or negative effects in these, are “the divine will”, nothing to do with them!”

    Not true, at least for Judaism. We believe that while God guides many things, we have the free will to do good or evil. We believe we can overcome our inadequacies.

    You wrote: “Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!”

    Knowledge is not the issue here, any more than you “know” that there is no God (which of course is wrong, so you can’t possibly “know” it). At best you can say you don’t believe there is a God. Surely you must admit that you may be wrong, because you have no experience to dictate otherwise. I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

  95. Avi

    To make a block of text orange just add a right arrow directly in front of the first word. > and leave no space between arrow and first letter of first word. leave a couple lines clear before you continue typing rest of comment. Try that and see if it works.

  96. Avi Goldstein #107
    May 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Alan, you quoted your god as saying:

    “Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.”

    That’s pretty shallow; you cant do better?

    Actually I quoted Olgun #102 saying that and posted the the chapter in the book giving depth of explanations on the evolutionary genetics of altruistic interactions in populations.

  97. Alan, you wrote:
    “Those who talk about “unborn babies”, usually don’t know the biology of zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and foetuses. Science based decisions on abortions are determined by survivability without debilitating complications affecting the baby or the mother, and the later potential life quality of the infant.”

    Actually, not far off from how Judaism thinks, although there is a wide spectrum (Jewish law is very complicated, much more complicated than civil law, and different experts hold different views, all based on their incredible knowledge of the subjects at hand).
    But “science” cannot make a moral judgment. Science is a mostly objective discipline, it has no feelings and no moral contours. People make moral judgments, and I still await someone who will answer my core question: How does an atheist determine what is moral?

  98. Avi
    In your comment 108 you are sure to run into trouble with this communication. The problem is that the science community has one thing in common and that is how we think and talk about probability. Anyone here who has a college degree in science or math processes certain statements and assertions in the same way due to the training and education that we have. We entertain hypotheses and think about how to test them. We collect, organize and analyse data. We make conclusions based on those analyses and then consider the implications of those results. When in the company of my fellow science majors this is something I count on them knowing. To me, everything is a probability equation. Some things are more probable or less probable than other things. Sometimes there are propositions that are so minutely probable that we agree to say – it’s impossible, but in our minds, we have a p-value sitting there that indicates – yes there is some extremely minute possibility but let’s not waste our time with that.

    This is how we view the probability of the existence of a god or collection of gods or any other supernatural creature. The probability that there is an omniscient, omnipotent being that has created this universe and all of the life in it is in fact, so absolutely minuscule as to be for all intents and purposes – so close to the number zero that we will all now say – the probability that this entity exists is ZERO. The end. We will no longer waste our time speculating as to its nature and properties and we will move on to more interesting hypotheses.

    When religious people try to insist that their favorite deity exists because their old sacred texts say so, or because they feel the “presence” of their deity intensely and personally, this is where we run into trouble. We will end up talking past each other forever if these two very different ways of understanding reality are maintained.

    What any science major will require and what anyone who relies on logic and rational thinking will require is for you to present a hypothesis – God exists, and then explain how you will collect data and move to a conclusion one way or another, that will satisfy us that this is truth or not truth.

    So this statement you made above:

    I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

    This cannot possibly be processed by us and it makes no sense whatsoever. It is only a feeling stated with emphasis. We can’t work with it. My field is psychology and I can tell you that emphatic statements that are based on nothing but feelings are very common and are often completely false. Too many of these curious statements in too short a time and your shrink will be reaching for his prescription meds pad, pen in hand. Not good.

    You will notice that regular contributors here don’t hesitate to make fact based statements. When they do this they usually include a link to the evidence for their assertion. If they fail to do that you are within your rights to ask for their evidence. This is how science and rational thinking works. If you can incorporate these standards into your comments then we won’t be talking past each other quite as much.

    I hope you will try to talk to your brother again about his ideas on secular morality. Reading between the lines, I think this is something he’s put a good deal of thought into. Could you try again and based on what we’ve all discussed here, try to listen with a more neutral mindset? Your religion, like all of them, include a little subroutine that kicks off a fierce defensive reaction. Yes, they all have this feature. Can you suppress this reaction long enough to give his ideas and the ideas presented here a fair trial? Also, you are perfectly capable of reading some entry level science and material on ethics, humanism, etc. I do realize that it’ll take some deep breaths and the courage to entertain information that you’ve actively blocked in the past. Even if it never changes your mind, there is some credit to you for making an honest attempt to try to understand how many other good people create a worldview that is moral and good with no reference at all to a supernatural all powerful being. Or, you could double down on the substantial defense systems that are evident in all of your comments here. If that’s your choice I will feel very sad for you. Life is short and there’s so much to learn. I’m aware of this every day.

  99. Avi Goldstein #108
    May 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    You wrote:

    “Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!”

    Knowledge is not the issue here,

    The unevidenced claims to knowledge are the issue.

    any more than you “know” that there is no God (which of course is wrong, so you can’t possibly “know” it).

    You are correct that I cannot know with absolute 100% certainty that no god entity exits anywhere in the universe.

    At best you can say you don’t believe there is a God.

    I can do much better than that! I can say there is no evidence for the Abrahamic god of the Bible ( which is the one usually spelt with a capital “G”).

    I can however point out the history of the origins and evolution of this monotheistic god-belief from the Canaanite pantheon of gods, through the forms El, Yahweh and Jehova, to the “God” of the tribes of Israel. (see #36 and #77).

    I can also point out the thousands of believers in other gods with conflicting properties which are followed by believers who are equally certain their their versions of gods are THE correct ones, – and finally I have the mounting evidence from psychologists and neuroscientists that god-delusions are a feature of believers brains which dominate their core beliefs.
    These “core beliefs vary and are grouped geographically and temporally throughout history – being fully coincident with the indoctrinating populations of believers, and absent in populations isolated from these.

    Surely you must admit that you may be wrong, because you have no experience to dictate otherwise.

    Not at all! – Furthermore, I am aware of the vast scale of the universe, many of the physical laws which operate it, and the absence of any need for miracles or supernatural stunts for its operation.
    Theistic attempts at explanations, such as the book of Genesis, are utterly incompatible with scientific evidence of the Earth’s formation.

    I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

    Yes! God delusions dominate the subjective thinking and blank out perceptions of reality, which might lead their host brains to apostasy!
    It is how the religious memes are preserved, copied, and passed on as comfortable certainties devoid of any supporting material evidence.

    However as all the various god-delusions (see list of deities @#77), produce claims which are in conflict with each other, there is no reason to think any of them have any material basis beyond the illusions in the brain chemistry and circuitry of their believers.

    They can’t all be right, and none have supporting material evidence of their external existence, so the obvious conclusion is that they are specific to particular illusions in the minds of individuals in particular cultures.
    They are “beliefs” which only exist in the brains of believers.

  100. Avi Goldstein #111
    May 24, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    But “science” cannot make a moral judgment. Science is a mostly objective discipline, it has no feelings and no moral contours.

    That is correct. Science informs moral judgements which can then be made on the basis of reliable information and predicted outcomes.

    People make moral judgements,

    They do indeed, but if they use guesswork or dogma in place of science, their judgements will most probably be flawed due to a lack of proper evidence-based information.

    and I still await someone who will answer my core question: How does an atheist determine what is moral?

    While there is no “universal atheist philosophy” (any more than there is a “universal religious philosophy” embracing all religions), a very high proportion of scientists are atheists, and I think the earlier part of my post [below] which you quoted, shows the process of evaluation of the interests of involved parties, and prediction, generally used by scientists and humanists.

    Alan, you wrote:

    “Those who talk about “unborn babies”, usually don’t know the biology of zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and foetuses. Science based decisions on abortions are determined by survivability without debilitating complications affecting the baby or the mother, and the later potential life quality of the infant.”

    Other issues are dealt with in a similar manner on their merits.

  101. Avi is getting a lot of attention. I’m jealous.

    Btw, speaking of morality, I was just having a bite to eat on 84th and Third Avenue. I noticed a crowd outside. A young man had collapsed and was foaming at the mouth. The ambulance came. My point; everyone was standing around, concerned, on their cell phones. I thought about Avi’s question “why do we care if someone is killed in a Godless universe? Because people are good; that’s why; we have developed the capacity to empathize. How? Don’t know but it’s not from God, and we don’t all have it either. Some people are cruel. But most of us have empathy to some degree, and that is just the way it is. It is possible to imagine a world without empathy. HG Welles described such a world. Whether empathy is more natural or not is an open question, but we have it and all I can do is hope that we as a species never lose it. That would be contrary to my values and would not be a world that I would choose to be part of if I found myself transported to such a world and had the ability to decide my own fate.

    Life is what we make of it, our experience is what we interpret, our values are what we form and what we develop. We create all of it – and it varies.

  102. Avi,

    Yes, yes, there might be a God. We can’t prove that there isn’t. You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist. But the burden of proof is on you to prove that something does exist. Do you comprehend that?

    As for morality without God, it isn’t moral to do something moral unless it arises from a genuine desire to alleviate the suffering of another. So even if there is a God there is no value in pretending to do the right thing when your heart, so to speak, isn’t in it, but you just want to please that God. That’s just like trying to curry favor with the boss. It’s dishonest.

    Thinking about God all the time is a wasted life. You are thinking about nothing. You don’t know what God is as you say you do because you have no experience of Nothing; and God cannot be said to be something rather than nothing. If it were something you’d be able to say something about it. You only know what you feel, and that is not objective truth; No one can know nothing, and that is why you cannot describe him. Nothing to describe. And that is all God is: Nothing. And you have no answer to that, cannot say anything at all about this God of yours. So why should I respect your faith when you have nothing to tell me except that he is real or that i can’t prove that he isn’t real. This is madness and imbecility. You think Judaism is profound but are in denial; Judaism is based essentially on nothing. Don’t waste your life. Go help someone. Quit thy childhood and wake up.

  103. HG Wells. Not Welles; that’s Orson Welles. Sorry.

    (Laurie, pssst, come here for a second. How’s Dombey and Son?)

  104. Dan

    Started with my copy in my Dickens collection – the print is so tiny I almost went cross-eyed. Switched to the free Kindle edition. Easier on the eyes. I’m at about 20% Dombey is a hopeless asshole. I feel a pall over my life because of him. If I plunge into a deep dark depression it will all be your fault. frown 😉

  105. Avi Goldstein #108
    May 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm
    At best you can say you don’t believe there is a God. Surely you must admit that you may be wrong, because you have no experience to dictate otherwise. I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

    And there we have it finally, the arrogance of surety that always comes out in the end when believers talk about their non existent deities. LaurieB has already given you an excellent riposte which I could not hope to improve on which explains exactly why “believers” can’t communicate rationally with scientists which is what most atheists are. We are not so arrogant as to claim surety in anything. Only the delusional do that. We don’t even use the word “believe” which implies making a choice in the absence of sufficient evidence. We talk about probabilities and evidence. It is irrelevant what in in our gut or inside our own heads. Only reproducable evidence matters. Evidence that can be demonstrated to a third party with no axe to grind and which produces the same results every time.

    There is no evidence for the existence of any god that has ever been postulated or worshipped. Not a single shred of proof, no miracles, no healings that couldn’t have happened some other way. In the absence of such evidence we simply decline to accept the postulation that such a god exists and leave the burden of proof back where it belongs – on the believer. However it is not just a matter of the situation being a 50/50 chance either way as theists like to try and claim. When we factor in the thousands of gods that humans have invented over the millenia and no proof for any of them, when we factor in the laws of physics which make omniscience and omnipotence impossible. When we factor in that we already have robust scientific explanations for most of the things that religion has turned out to have been wrong about such as the earth being the centre of the universe, how planets and solar systems form, the age of the earth and the universe, evolution rather than creation myths. When we look at all of this we can say with high probability that at best only one of the conflicting religions might be true or have some grains of truth in it, that there’s no reason to pick any of them as candidates for this and that to all intents and purposes it’s a pointless debate with almost zero chance of any gods existing.

    In short we have almost 100% certainty that you can pray to your sky pixie until you’re blue in the face but he’ll never appear, never do anything that only a god could possibly do and which couldn’t have happened any other way and he’ll definitely never answer any of your prayers because there’s nobody listening.

    However, and here’s the very core of why atheists (scientists) and faith believers are so different. Ask any atheist what it would take to make him change his mind about the existence of god and he’ll say just show me some incontrovertible evidence. I would suggest something nice and easy for an omnipotent god like moving mount Everest to the sahara desert and leaving a glowing message in the sky saying “Hi folks, god of the bible here. have a nice day”.

    Now ask any hard core theist what it would take to change their own mind about the existence of their god and they’ll say “nothing could ever do that”. Their faith is unshakeable despite zero evidence to support it. That’s not rational or logical or evidence based. That’s pure delusion and sadly that’s all you and people like you have.

  106. Ask any atheist what it would take to make him change his mind about the existence of god and he’ll say just show me some incontrovertible evidence.

    An uncharacteristically weak comment, Arkrid. And it doesn’t apply to me, a non-theist.

    It would not take incontrovertible evidence to inspire faith in me. Moreover, as soon as there is evidence of God’s existence faith vanishes and we have no God anymore but scientific truth in its place!

    Religion is based on faith, not reason. (That is why people like Avi get under my skin; they are sure of something that one can not possibly be sure of; that is fanaticism, as defined by Kant. That is why I said that the God he “knows” is nothing. If he had said that he has faith, and admitted that faith is non-rational, I wouldn’t have said he had faith in nothing.)

  107. Avi Goldstein #90
    May 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Obviously you would (or should) agree that a self-managing group (such as Orthodox Jews) can have its own rules, as long as it is not forcing others to keep those rules.

    You seem to be very sure what ought to be obvious to other people which is more of the arrogance I mentioned in my previous post. What if that self regulating group practices cannibalism, female genital mutilation, paedophilia? Do we just let them get on with it because they aren’t forcing anyone else to do the same? Hell no is the answer.

    As far as religions go if that’s what you mean by self-managing groups, I think they do harm to all of us even if they keep themselves to themselves. The reason is that believing in, and worshipping, that which does not exist is delusional. Essentially a form of mental illness and that reflects poorly on all of humanity and any aspirations we might have to one day be able to call ourselves civilised. If aliens visited this planet I’m sure they’d wonder why half of its 7 plus billion inhabitants believe in invisible sky pixies and whether that meant all of us were a bit nuts. I’m also sure that if they had a Federation of planets they wouldn’t want us joining for the same reason until we’d put such stupidity behind us.

  108. The reason is that believing in, and worshipping, that which does not exist is delusional.

    I guess you’re right, A.S. I have trouble making up my mind about all this. Faith is just as nuts as claiming to know that which can’t be known, I suppose. I take back what I said in comment 121. Yup. I want evidence. Faith in God is faith in nothing too.

    Next week I might say something different. That’s okay; I’ll probably be grappling with this stuff my whole life.

  109. Avi Goldstein #108
    May 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    “Theists pretend theirs come from their gods, and that the inadequacies or negative effects in these, are “the divine will”, – nothing to do with them!”

    Not true, at least for Judaism.

    Judaism is really no different to any other faith-based perception.

    We believe that while God guides many things,

    But have yet to produce ANY evidence of this happening or any mechanism showing how gods are involved in this working of nature.

    we have the free will to do good or evil.

    In religions “evil” is defined by “holy texts” so references to “evil” are circular thinking from a god-based definition, so cannot be used as evidence of a god.

    We believe we can overcome our inadequacies.

    As can all people, but that has nothing to do with gods, or the inadequacies of dogmas and doctrines.

    You wrote:

    “Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!”

    Knowledge is not the issue here,

    I explained the nature of theist unevidenced “faith-claims” to “knowledge” about the unknowns, and about god-fantasies @ #113.

    A claim which you confirmed is your position, in expressing your unevidenced “certainty” to “comfortably assert surety*, based purely on confident “faith” in your indoctrination into the “right” religion!

    any more than you “know” that there is no God (which of course is wrong, so you can’t possibly “know” it).

    Actually, once theists stop making vague suggestions that some obscure god-thingy exists somewhere out of sight, and list the claimed properties and activities of their gods, these are easily and rapidly debunked by scientific and historical evidence.
    They are shown to be myths and folk-law from the imaginations of people in the past.
    They were used as manipulative tools by elites seeking power over local populations, and organising tribal followings to attack rivals and rival populations. Today they still are!

    https://www.thoughtco.com/roman-equivalents-of-greek-gods-4067799

    https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=List%20of%20Canaanite%20deities

    https://www.thoughtco.com/deities-of-mexica-mythology-170042

    http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/incan-mythology.php?list-gods-names

  110. Thinking about God all the time is a wasted life. You are thinking about nothing.

    (Thanks, Laurie, it worked; reminds me of my days in publishing when I would do a bit of coding.)

    Ideally, one indeed should keep God in mind all the time; this is the essence of life! When we don’t put God at the forefront, that is when things start to go wrong! Yes, it does seem we are talking past one another (as someone said in a post). The problem is that I am perfectly logical while you folks are not.

  111. The problem with what you call the “science community” is not science itself. God created the amazing thing we term “science,” and of course it is wonderful!
    But I digress. Let’s see if we can sum up what you have said regarding morality:
    Somehow people have “evolved” and can “figure out” what is “good” or “evil.” The further we get away from the apes whence which supposedly evolved, the better we are.
    The logical conclusion is that as society advances, we will become ever more good (a term you cannot even explain, but so be it). Then why, my friends, have the last 100 years featured more evil than at any time in history? Why aren’t we becoming ever better, ever (ooh, don’t like the term!) more humanistic?
    The answer is that the natural world has nothing to do with good and evil; it is simply the setting in which good and evil and neutral acts take place!
    I repeatedly asked for a definition of good. Dan responded with a story about bystanders having concern for someone who was ill. Dan, you are right; people have good within them, because God put good within them! (God and good are, as far as I know, of common etymology.) But no one has managed to define “good” or “evil” in a remotely satisfactory way.
    You all know the story of Leopold and Loeb and the (im)perfect murder. Leopold and Loeb held themselves, by virtue of their intellects, to be superior beings who had the right to do whatever they wanted to those they held to be inferior. What a perfect demonstration of how amorality leads to evil. Of course, none of you can say Leopold and Loeb were wrong; they held themselves to be scientifically superior!
    And the Nazis did the same.
    No, I am not saying you are Nazis! (I am sure someone will jump on me for invoking the Holocaust.) But it is indisputable that the Nazis believed themselves to be biologically advanced. They held Jews, Romas and others to be biologically inferior.
    Do you believe that similar abominations cannot be repeated? What about euthanasia in supposedly civililzed, advanced, secular societies? Need I say more?

  112. Also, I have not written about evolution, your sacred touchstone, and the truth is I have no problem accepting a God-guided evolution (Jews are not fundamentalists and we don’t necessarily read all parts of the Torah literally). But since we are talking about science, can someone please explain how and why we would develop two eyes?
    and while we are at it, can someone explain why a snake is not poisoned by its own venom?
    And I am still waiting an answer to how matter appeared.

  113. Dan wrote:

    Religion is based on faith, not reason. (That is why people like Avi get under my skin; they are sure of something that one can not possibly be sure of.

    Dan, I can say the same about you; you are so certain about your beliefs that you cannot imagine anything else being correct.
    And on that subject, you put enormous “faith” in the power of reason. Why? How do you know that our logic (even commonly shared logic) is reliable? What makes you think that your thinking process is a valid one? How, indeed, do you draw conclusions about anything?

  114. Avi Goldstein #125
    May 25, 2017 at 6:30 am

    The problem is that I am perfectly logical while you folks are not.

    As I explained in an earlier post, logic a deductive or inductive process, not a badge to be stuck on to assertions which endorse your preconceptions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_reasoning

    Unless the starting premises are evidence based, anything built on them will be hypothetical fantasy!

    Logical reasoning from evidence, is one of the key skills of scientists in their investigations seeking understanding of the workings of nature.
    That is one of the reasons why the majority of top scientists are atheists.
    “Faith-thinking” (belief without evidence of proof) – uses no testing or checking methods, so has nothing to contribute to science, or scientific understanding.

    Ideally, one indeed should keep God in mind all the time; this is the essence of life!

    Not really! The majority of species on this planet have no concept of gods, and the majority of humans on this planet have no belief in your particular version of a god.
    There is no evidence to suggest this causes them any problems. (Although beliefs in some other gods certainly do!)

    When we don’t put God at the forefront, that is when things start to go wrong!

    I can assure you I have had no need of gods since I matured to the formal operations stage of mental development as a teenager.

    While strongly indoctrinated theists are dependent on their god-delusions in a similar way to drug addicts (the opium of the people) who are dependent on their regular fixes, free-thinking atheists have no such needs, and can manage life perfectly well without gods, worship, or priests – in the open-minded wider world outside of the restricted “in-groups” of closed “faith” communities.

  115. Arkrid Sandwich #122
    Ask any atheist what it would take to make him change his mind about the existence of god and he’ll say just show me some incontrovertible evidence. I would suggest something nice and easy for an omnipotent god like moving mount Everest to the sahara desert and leaving a glowing message in the sky saying “Hi folks, god of the bible here. have a nice day”.

    Arkrid, while Jews do not rely on supernatural evidence for our beliefs (Maimonides, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, is quite clear on this subject), God DID leave a glowing message in the sky. He spoke to us at Mount Sinai.

  116. Avi Goldstein #127
    May 25, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Also, I have not written about evolution, your sacred touchstone, and the truth is I have no problem accepting a God-guided evolution

    The problem with “god-guided evolution” (known as Theistic evolution which is not in itself a scientific theory), is just a fudged attempt to graft theological beliefs on to modern science.

    Theistic evolution has no explained mechanism and the mechanisms of evolution have NOTHING to do with being guided towards particular objectives. None of its advocates have produce anything which credible resembles science!

    (Jews are not fundamentalists and we don’t necessarily read all parts of the Torah literally). But since we are talking about science, can someone please explain how and why we would develop two eyes?

    Eyes have evolved many times n the evolution of life selective pressures in evolution promote replication of mechanisms which work or work better than the competition, bin ocular vision give a greater depth of perception of distance or a wider field of vision – depending on the placing of the eyes on the skull. Insect vision sees a wider range of wavelengths and can ultraviolet light which humans cannot. Spiders have numerous eyes and more than one type of eye.

    This is detailed biology which requires study, but it is well understood.

    and while we are at it, can someone explain why a snake is not poisoned by its own venom?

    Clearly any individual snake which was poisoned by its own venom would not live to reproduce, so only those with immunity would develop the venom and the immunity together over many generations. Many predators of venomous snakes have also evolved immunity to their prey’s venom.

    These are the sorts of questions which come from students on beginner courses in biology.

    And I am still waiting an answer to how matter appeared.

    Atoms formed from sub-atomic energy particles during the Big-Bang!

    Some of the processes are not yet known, but “god-did-by-magic” is gapology, – not a scientific answer!

  117. Avi Goldstein #126
    May 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    And the Nazis did the same.
    No, I am not saying you are Nazis! (I am sure someone will jump on me for invoking the Holocaust.)

    I think that person would be Dan – given his family’s involvement in the holocaust!

    But it is indisputable that the Nazis believed themselves to be biologically advanced. They held Jews, Romas and others to be biologically inferior.

    Creationists love to pretend to associate NAZIs with science.
    NAZI social Darwinism was a politically ideologically motivated pseudo-science perversion of Scientific Darwininian evolution, just as theistic evolution is a pseudo-science religious perversion it!
    Having said that, like tyrants throughout history, they invested heavily in the development of weapons technology, and made huge advances in that area.

    It is also worth noting that the Aryan assertions of superiority and anti-Semitism were rooted in the German Protestant churches of the time!

    Have said that, delusions of Aryan superiority have parallels with Zionist claims to be “Gods chosen people”!

    BTW: Hitler was brought up a Catholic and was initially supported by both Protestant and Catholic churches before he fell out with them when he no longer needed them after achieving power.

  118. Avi Goldstein #125
    May 25, 2017 at 6:30 am

    The problem is that I am perfectly logical while you folks are not.

    Ok, now I know you’re just a troll taking the piss and not worth bothering with.

  119. Avi Goldstein #127
    May 25, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Also, I have not written about evolution, your sacred touchstone, and the truth is I have no problem accepting a God-guided evolution

    This comment along with you “logic” claim, indicate that your education has been sadly neglected in the areas of logical thinking and science!
    This is quite common in closed communities where “faith-beliefs” are defended from the evidence-based imported knowledge of the outside world.

    When talking about the stages of evolution, we need to be clear about time frames covering millions or billions of years, when dealing with the evolution of our Universe, the evolution of galaxies, the evolution of stars and planets, the evolution of our Solar-System, the formation of the Earth, the evolution of early life, the evolution of complex life, the history of humans, and the on-going features of these processes.

    These evolutionary processes are the key features of cosmology, astronomy, physics, geology, climatology, and biology.

    sacred touchstone

    They have absolutely nothing to do with sacred beliefs or your preoccupation with sacred beliefs!

    If you really want to learn about these subjects, you need to engage and follow up on the answers and links you have been given, rather than constantly throwing in new topics to change the subject!

  120. Avi

    That’s pretty shallow; you cant do better?

    I am barely out of the shallows myself but it would be pointless enticing you any deeper. You can’t swim and won’t wear floats relying on faith instead.

  121. And on that subject, you put enormous “faith” in the power of reason.
    Why?

    Avi (trust me, I realize I’m talking to a stone wall at this point), the reason you’re able to communicate with us, from either your phone or some PC, is due to reason. If you have a car, it’s not a faith built car. A cascade of scientific discoveries and inventions culminated in this modern mode of transportation. Ditto your PC/phone which began largely with Alan (not our Alan) Turing who of course built upon the ideas of many other giants in the field. And so it goes as Vonnegut would say. I know, your god “created science” whatever that means, and so it’s in that phantom cloak that you’re able to agree with me about these wonderful things that science has given us. None of us is capable of changing your mind because it is closed to your dogma. But in engaging with us we hope you’ll concede that atheists/humanists are a congenial lot (we’ve been at least as congenial as you). Not only that, many here have genuinely tried to teach you something. That is a rare gift horse you shouldn’t look in the mouth.

  122. Avi Goldstein #126
    May 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    The problem with what you call the “science community” is not science itself.

    You do not specify any particular problem with the scientific community, but it appears your problem with the scientific community, is that you don’t understand how it or the science works.

    God created the amazing thing we term “science,” and of course it is wonderful!

    Well actually no! – “God-did-it” is the assertion of the ignorant, pretending they have knowledge they do not possess!

    The term “science” and scientific methodology, was invented by talented humans fairly recently!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science

    The English word scientist is relatively recent—first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century.[1]

    Previously, people investigating nature called themselves “natural philosophers”.

    While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example, by Thales and Aristotle), and scientific method has been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham and Roger Bacon), modern science began to develop in the early modern period, and in particular in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe.

    Relying on “god-did-it” as an answer, also has the unfortunate side effect of giving a false sense of knowledge and understanding, which discourages the further investigations which could provide real knowledge, and then locks the individual into a cycle of ignorance and pseudo-answers.

  123. Olgun #138
    May 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Alan

    Was there something wrong in that statement given the circumstances?

    No – I gave the reference to the relevant depth of explanations of evolving reciprocal altruism @#102 and #110. These supported your statement.

    The claim that your comment was supposedly being “shallow”, is (in the light of other comments), a projection of the depth of perception of Avi in these subject areas.

  124. Olgun, I think Alan was just propping it up. I said something similar in #86 –

    We would never have evolved without an innate morality. This much is clear.

  125. It is somewhat aggrieving I have to say that once again, as so many times before, we give someone coming in here the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just a wind up, spend a lot of time answering their points and then it turns out to be just more trolling. Perhaps I’m just cross with myself for breaking my rule about engaging with people I know from the outset it’s pointless debating which is why I try not to get sucked into these type of threads.

  126. Arkrid Sandwich #143
    May 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I know from the outset it’s pointless debating

    I don’t think so.
    There is more to a debate than convincing a particular individual.
    A change of mind-set is going to take more than a few days.
    There are other readers of these threads who benefit from studying different mind-sets.
    I think some of the reduced activity on this site lately, can be attributed to a lack of theist input drawing out answers to basic questions which most educated atheists understand, but they don’t.

  127. I agree with Alan. On religion Atheists have nothing new to say to me. But I am continually amazed at lives free floating of facts because they think it more rooted! I never tire seeing the fatal sophistry and marvel at how so simple an idea defeats its victim the Pre Frontal Cortex.

    Missing is that single inoculation before 7 years of age that sets you free time and again.

    Doubt.

    I am impressed by how this latter gets injected later say at fourteen as an idea to confound doubters and falsely present them as lacking this important attribute.

  128. Arkrid wrote:
    It is somewhat aggrieving I have to say that once again, as so many times before, we give someone coming in here the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just a wind up, spend a lot of time answering their points and then it turns out to be just more trolling.

    Wow, talk about arrogance! You “give someone the benefit of the doubt”? You are so full of yourselves! And you are afraid to engage in meaningful debate.
    Today I attended my daughter’s graduation from Yeshiva University, which combines the highest in Jewish learning with the best in secular education. I watched old and young, rabbis and lay people, extolling the virtues of higher learning and a live grounded in God-given morality. The focus of many speakers was how to live a truly moral life, and at the last minute (at my behest) we inserted a moment of silence in prayer for the injured in the Manchester terrorist attack (an attack you cannot even denounce, since you have no barometer to judge it).
    Folks, the level of intelligence among the speakers, including the lay people, is so beyond what you exhibit that it is not funny. One-quarter of Nobel Prize winners have been Jewish, a staggering statistic. But what is even more staggering is that these are not even our best and brightest. Our best and brightest are studying and teaching Torah at incredibly profound levels.
    Because of your collective ignorance (this is not to fault you, ignorance is not a sin), you are unaware of just how profound and difficult Torah study is. We do not simply read the Torah (best example: we do not believe, and have never believed, in “an eye for an eye”); we expound upon it, based on the principle of study given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai. Even secular Jews, when exposed to true Torah study, tend to be deeply affected, even if they are not observant of the laws.
    The Jewish people have given the world the highest in intellectual achievements, and that is not because of any innate ability; it is because Torah study trains one to think logically and rationally. A (non-Jewish) college professor (boy, was that a long time ago!) once, out of the blue, asked me if I study Talmud. I was perplexed by the question, till he explained that my questions in class differed substantively from the questions posed by the other students. This was a TV/Radio class, as I recall, the point being that once the mind is trained, it applies itself to any discipline.
    Our religious basis is of course faith, faith whose truth has been borne out through generations of survival in a mostly hostile world. But we spend very little time talking about faith! Most of our study time is devoted to Jewish law, including non-ritual parts such as civil law. Yes, Judaism has a remarkably detailed civil law! I doubt any other religion can make this claim. The closest is probably Islam.
    My point here, as I sum up (because I have made my point, and I think I shall declare victory and run), is not to demean science or reason. You all prejudged me, thinking I accepted everything I was taught without question. Quite the contrary: I was brought up in a home where we were encouraged to think for ourselves, and (just ask my wife) I continue to think matters through carefully. If I hear about a rabbi who I believe has made a mistake in Jewish law, I will proudly announce my disagreement! And in truth, that is what Judaism is about.
    But at the end of the day, we accept and (hopefully, usually) keep the myriad commandments. We do so with perfect faith. As Maimonides, the rationalist par excellence of Jewish philosophy, states, “I believe with perfect faith that the Creator created and leads all who were created.”
    If any of you are ever in Far Rockaway, look me up, and I will be pleased to continue the discussion over some (kosher!) cake and coffee. All the best, Avi

  129. Avi

    the injured in the Manchester terrorist attack (an attack you cannot even denounce, since you have no barometer to judge it).

    This is the cruelest statement you’ve said here. I’m very shocked to read this. You can’t possibly believe that people outside of your own religious group have a lack of morality to this degree. Of course we are all disgusted by these acts of extreme violence. Everyone on this website comes from a different location in the world and from families of many different faiths or no faith at all and still, we feel pain of people wherever they are. Orthodox jews don’t have a monopoly on morality. You accuse us of arrogance but what you’ve said about the entire secular community is the height of arrogance. I really think you should apologize for this cruel insult. You are convinced that we have no moral compass but what are you doing about learning more about how others arrive at their moral position? I think you’re afraid to learn about other paradigms because you’ve staked your entire being on the one that you were indoctrinated into many years ago. I’m sure there will be a discussion thread here at some point on the Manchester attack and we will have the opportunity to express our feeling about it then. It wasn’t mentioned previously because it was not the topic of this discussion. Please think first before making accusations about people that have different ways of thinking than you do. Also, we all recognize the intellectual contributions of Jewish scholars. This was never called into question. It’s a given.

  130. I saw post #147 last night but was too shocked and angered to respond to it. I thought that sleeping on it might be prudent but to be honest it has made little difference. What a disgusting diatribe of smug arrogance and hubris. What dripping contempt for anyone who doesn’t believe in his particular imaginary sky pixie and the made up laws he thinks make only his own people the smartest on the planet. How dare anyone tell me I’m not even qualified to feel the pain I feel for the children who died in Manchester because only his people have a moral compass.

    This is how religion poisons everything. This is how it infests and infects the minds of the brainwashed, the morally bankrupt, the purveyors of smiling hatred for anyone not quite like themselves. The contempt here is almost like the rest of us are not even quite human. Clever monkeys maybe who gesture and make some intelligible sounds but have no soul, no morals, no logic, no insight into the supposed truths that only the chosen ones are clever enough to study and debate and pat each other smugly on the backs about over their kosher cake and coffee. This is the exact same mindset that led the Nazis to try and exterminate the Jews. The belief that others are genetically, physically, morally, mentally inferior, subhuman even.

    However I take back what I said about it not being worth debating people like this because it’s revealed the true disease inside. The sickness that pits faction against faction and has done for millenia; the “chosen” ones against everyone who supposedly isn’t. How much more of a step is it from this when you’ve already dehumanised the infidels in your own mind to strapping on a bomb and killing their children?

  131. Avi Goldstein #147
    May 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Wow, talk about arrogance! You “give someone the benefit of the doubt”?
    You are so full of yourselves!
    And you are afraid to engage in meaningful debate.

    Alan4discussion #133 – While you would probably benefit more by spending time reading the links on this discussion, if you are interested in the evolution of eyes, there are articles and discussions in the RDFS archives.

    Alan4discussion #135 – If you really want to learn about these subjects, you need to engage and follow up on the answers and links you have been given, rather than constantly throwing in new topics to change the subject!

    There seems to be some psychological projection here regarding who is “not engaging in meaningful debate”.

    Pretending to be insulted by facts or reasoning, as an alternative to engaging in a meaningful debate, – as you are discovering, does not impress on a site dedicated to science and reasoning.

    Today I attended my daughter’s graduation from Yeshiva University, which combines the highest in Jewish learning with the best in secular education.

    Neither do appeals to authority!
    I can appreciate your pride in your children’s achievements and your daughter’s educational achievements, but they really are just as irrelevant to this topic – as are the qualifications of my graduate children who hold positions as head of development at an IT company and as a lawyer, – or the qualifications of posters here who work in universities.
    On this site arguments are looked at on their merits alone, regardless of who posts them!

    So if you would like to engage in following up on some of the issues you have raised, rather than flip-flopping from one topic to another, I would be happy to continue this discussion.

  132. Avi Goldstein #147
    May 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    The focus of many speakers was how to live a truly moral life, and at the last minute (at my behest) we inserted a moment of silence in prayer for the injured in the Manchester terrorist attack (an attack you cannot even denounce, since you have no barometer to judge it).

    I think the involvement of the certainty associated with the god-delusions of a “moral monopoly” of a fundamentalist religious sect, is a key factor in these sorts of jihadist suicide bombings!

    Our best and brightest are studying and teaching Torah at incredibly profound levels.

    Unsurprisingly, the fundamentalists of Shia and Sunni Islam, make similar claims for the Quoran and hadriths with similar certainty in their unevidenced beliefs!

    You claim a monopoly on morality, show no understanding whatever of rationally-based secular codes of conduct or those of other religions, and then accuse others of arrogance?

    BTW: My brother – also an atheist, lives in Manchester, and has educated amiable Muslim friends and associates! – But then my family has respect for people who hold many different world views, and is not constrained within one isolationist social bubble which claims a monopoly of knowledge and morality derived from the bronze-age!

  133. Avi Goldstein #62
    May 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    But to address the part of your post that at least is somewhat sensical, no, we do not “report” our sex lives to our rabbis. Au contraire, our sex lives are private!

    So let’s get this straight! Women take their vaginal discharges to the rabbi, and couples are told when they can and can’t have sex or intimacy, and presumably are pronounced to be sinners for non-compliance, – But this is not “reporting” (allegedly)! Your sex lives are private and your religion does not intrude or dominate!! ! 🙂 (Check out “cognitive dissonance”)

    Yes, we believe that on the Sabbath, we are restricted from certain activities.
    Thank God, I do not have seven days in my week.
    I have six days plus one entirely different day.
    I am thrilled every time the Sabbath commences and I am saddened when it ends.
    What a beautiful thing to be able to take one day off from the rigors, physical and mental, of the week! I recommend you try it.

    Sure – Like I don’t already change my routines at week-ends, because religion does not intrude in my life or impose silly stunts on me! 🙂

    As for the “strange behaviors,” I am not certain which you mean.

    This is evasion! – I don’t believe you are really that dumb!

    But yes, some things we do may seem strange to you.
    You have no concept of Judaism
    .
    You have no experiential evidence upon which to rely.

    Ah! the wonders of “knowledge” gained from faith-thinking! –
    I mean – I couldn’t possibly have researched information or discussed this subject before!

    https://richarddawkins.net/2014/03/sabbath-mode/#li-comment-146915

  134. Unfortunately, we are not on an even playing field. I have studied sciences and philosophy; I doubt any of you has studied Judaism in depth. I can speak and argue meaningfully because I understand both sides, while you dont.
    I just want to make a note concerning science and God. I do understand that you have made science your god (which just goes to show that as Bob Dylan sang during his thankfully short-lived Christian fling, “Everybody’s gonna have to serve somebody.”
    The big problem for you is that science cannot even to begin to speak regarding God. Science makes observations about the natural world (by the way, observations that change frequently, each claiming to be the new “truth”). Science cannot explain the why: why the world came into being. There is no answer for the “first cause” except for God. And there is not answer for the marvelous universe (cacophonous as it may be at times) except for God. There is no answer for the development of the eye except for God. Indeed, there is no answer for the development (whether evolutionary or spontaneous) of anything except for God.
    There is no answer for the development of our moral sense except for God.
    None of the above has to do with a particular religion; that is a separate issue. But that there is an Almighty God is beyond dispute. Unfortunately, you are so married to your faith and to your physical desires that you wish not to have the lattter tempered in any way. Have pleasure, and then die, because what it the difference anyway? Kill, steal, rape, whatever: it’s all okay! Euthanasia? Why not, if your societal mores have decided that is “good.” And why not legalize the destruction of Jewry? Perhaps that too is good. How terribly sad!

  135. Steven said:
    If you have a car, it’s not a faith built car. A cascade of scientific discoveries and inventions culminated in this modern mode of transportation. Ditto your PC/phone which began largely with Alan (not our Alan) Turing who of course built upon the ideas of many other giants in the field.

    True, Steven, people built and create, because God has given humankind incredible abilities to be creative, to perfect His world by adding to it!

  136. Laurie said, regarding my comment that atheists cannot morally denounce the Manchester attack: This is the cruelest statement you’ve said here. I’m very shocked to read this. You can’t possibly believe that people outside of your own religious group have a lack of morality to this degree. Of course we are all disgusted by these acts of extreme violence. Everyone on this website comes from a different location in the world and from families of many different faiths or no faith at all and still, we feel pain of people wherever they are. Orthodox jews don’t have a monopoly on morality. You accuse us of arrogance but what you’ve said about the entire secular community is the height of arrogance.

    I don’t know why you (and others) are taking this personally. First, I did not say that only Orthodox Jews have a monopoly on morality, and you know I did not say that. What I said was that without a God-driven moral system, there is no mechanism by which to decide right and wrong. No one has reasonably explained how there can be morality without God. And if that is the case, then while of course you and I recoil equally from the Manchester horror, I don’t believe that you can denounce it on moral grounds. You can denounce it because sure, we all feel terrible when people are senselessly killed and maimed. But no one has succeeded in clarifying how an atheist can make a moral judgment. As a thinker, I am sure you understand the difference between the two.
    As for the commenter who talked about my “cruel” post, I did not engage in a single ad hominem in any of my posts. On the other hand, I have been subjected to needless personal attacks (would you like the list?). Yet I choose not to take it personally. Each and every one of you is, to me, a treasured human being who would be welcome in my home, and I present the invitation with all seriousness.

  137. Avi Goldstein #153
    May 26, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Unfortunately, we are not on an even playing field. I have studied sciences and philosophy;

    I have yet to see any depth of study in your posts.

    I doubt any of you has studied Judaism in depth. I can speak and argue meaningfully because I understand both sides, while you don’t.

    If you knew anything about religion or philosophy, you would know there are many more than two sides or two viewpoints!

    “Mine, and the ONE(s) I know nothing about”, does not cover human knowledge of major subject areas.

    I just want to make a note concerning science and God. I do understand that you have made science your god

    Which illustrates your psychological projection of faith-belief thought systems and shows a lack of understanding of scientific reasoning and methodology.

    The big problem for you is that science cannot even to begin to speak regarding God.

    The big problem is that science is ignostic, and theists not only usually don’t have a credible argument for “god”, but they are vague, and don’t even have a credible definition of “god” or an agenda for an evidenced discussion!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ignosticism

    As with any topic, and especially in the realm of the supernatural and woo, the subject of any debate should be coherently defined. If one offers a clear definition of an entity, then in order to take a position whether it exists or not the definition of the entity must be one in which its existence can be falsified (there is a rational and logical method by which we can test the existence of the subject as it has been defined). Few theists ever offer a clear definition of God. The few who do offer a definition almost never offer one in which the existence of that God could be tested. The rare falsifiable definition offered regarding God’s existence is easily falsified.

    Ignosticism goes one step further than agnosticism; while agnosticism states that “you can’t really know either way” regarding the existence or non-existence of God, ignosticism posits that “you haven’t even agreed on what you’re discussing” (see Concepts of God).
    The term was coined by Sherwin Wine, founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

  138. Folks, I came to the realization that it is not always helpful when one presents drastic examples, such as murder, to assess morality. Of course, most of us do feel that wanton murder is wrong. I would argue that even atheists feel this way because God implanted a sense of morality within us; you would disagree. Fine.

    I want to try a different, less extreme example, and hear your responses. A father is sitting at his dining room table. Dad calls out to his son, “Frank, can you please bring me a cherry” (my bias: I think cherries are God’s best fruit creation!). Frank looks up from his monitor and replies, “Sorry, Dad, no, I won’t bring you cherries, because I want to play a video game.”

    What do you think about Frank’s response? Is he right or wrong? This is a straight-forwarded, non-loaded question. There are no mitigating circumstances. Frank is an able fifteen-year-old with easy access to the refrigerator.

  139. Avi Goldstein #153
    May 26, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Science makes observations about the natural world (by the way, observations that change frequently, each claiming to be the new “truth”).
    Science modifies and up-dates its views in the light of new evidence, but these are modifications – not throwing everything out!

    When Einstein up-dated Neuton’s physics, that did not mean Newton’s physic stopped working on the mechanisms it described.
    It meant that Einstein made additions to the formulae to cover different aspects of forces and motion through space time.

    Science cannot explain the why: why the world came into being.

    There is no “WHY?”, but science gives details of HOW?
    Science gives very detailed accounts of how stars come into being, how solar-systems come into being and how planets come into being ,and the approximate time-scales and sequence of events in the formation and evolution of the Earth.

    There is no answer for the “first cause” except for God.

    Gapology 1.01 ? ” I have absolutely no idea about any of this – so god-did-it-by-magic-and-I-have-all-the-answers”!

    Science does not have ALL the answers, but it has a great many which are confirmed by substantial evidence, and which go back in time to within seconds of the formation of our universe.

    And there is not answer for the marvelous universe (cacophonous as it may be at times) except for God.

    At least in the minds of those profoundly ignorant of science, astronomy and cosmology who prefer bronze-age pseudo-knowledge to seeking to educate themselves.

    There is no answer for the development of the eye except for God.

    This is laughable ignorance.
    Eyes have evolved many times in many organisms, with evidence of the succession of forms from simple light sensitive spots, through to those sensitive to a wide range of wavelengths with focussing lenses, evident in both fossils and in present-day life forms. In some species organisms (such as spiders) have more than one form of eye on the same individual

    Indeed, there is no answer for the development (whether evolutionary or spontaneous) of anything except for God.

    Oh! dear! and you claimed to understand science!!
    This is a fail at school-level biology!

    There is no answer for the development of our moral sense except for God.

    Have a look at earlier comment and links on this discussion! You seem to have missed them!

    None of the above has to do with a particular religion;

    Of course it does!
    All you are saying is that you are clueless about all the other forms of gods apart from your own mental perception of one.

    that is a separate issue. But that there is an Almighty God is beyond dispute.

    Err no! As I explained @#156, Could we start with a coherent falsifiable definition, and identifiable properties and activities, to actually put something on the agenda, to debate or dispute!

    Perhaps it would be related to comment and links to the history of the evolution of Jewish god @#36, or #77, although there is no evidence of any understanding of cosmology or planet formation in those myths.

  140. Avi, this is a non sequitur having nothing to do with the OP or any of the other things you and others have been speaking of. I’m guessing this is a moral question since you seem to think atheists are amoral (or simply too unenlightened to know true god given morality) unless you explain it’s something else. The problem with a question like this (which I’ll answer from my perspective) is of course, there is no right or wrong answer. Why? Because we’ve been given very little to go by aside from the basics. There is always more to it. Is the father infirm or is he able bodied? If the father is injured it changes the equation obviously. Ditto the boy. If the boy has a sore knee from gym class (but is able) and the father is lazy it’s callous of him to ask don’t you think (but not necessarily “wrong”)? Assuming that everyone is able bodied (which still leaves a lot to conjecture):

    What do you think about Frank’s response?

    On a basic level I think it’s disrespectful for him to speak to his father like that (and dad asked nicely) and if he were my son he would have never uttered it because respect, especially from teens is very important to me and this was made clear at a very young age, with due respect because I believe that children deserve that. But they are children nonetheless. That said unless I were otherwise tied up I would have gotten the cherry myself because why wouldn’t I?

    Is he right or wrong?

    I think I covered this above. I believe one of the things the torah teaches is that there are absolutes (feel free to correct my assumption). Behavioral dynamics states that when the present determines the future, the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. This is an example of chaotic systems. No absolutes. I think you’re looking for a cut and dried morality. But there are so many other things to consider. The world is not black and white.

  141. Steven007

    I like your answer and I agree that Avi is looking for a black and white/ yes or no answer. This is in fact what we find in the Bible and other holy books. In fact, the ten commandments state that we must honor our parents whether or not they deserve it.

    The example of the teen is an excellent way to see the difference between authoritarian frameworks and the ethical perspective that allows flexibility and requires analysis of factors.

    The first thing I thought of too was that if I wanted the damn cherries I’d get up and get them for myself. I’ve noticed in certain other authoritarian fundamentalist cultures that parents order their children around to run and get this and that and to do chores that are considered to be low status tasks. I have a very different view of how this should be handled.

    The second thing I thought of right away is that we all know about the problem of teens and their “addiction” to social media and games. Actually, it’s not just teens as I know some adults who can’t drag themselves away from the screen never mind to go and fetch a cherry for someone. If a teen and the parent have an agreement about computer usage, say an hour now and another hour after homework and then the parent interupts the game to send the teen on an errand that has nothing to do with the teen, basically busy work, then I think this is a set up for procrastination and an argument will follow. Why set up the scene for this argument in the first place? How would the parent feel if they announced that they will now settle in for an hour of peaceful reading and then the teen comes over and requests a ride to the mall right away? Isn’t this aggravating in the same way? The whole situation is just poor management. But I think I’ve made my point about this scenario being an example of the difference between authoritarian and egalitarian parenting. Respect is important but it needs to go both ways. Respect isn’t for free, it’s earned by everyone no matter which generation they happen to belong to.

    The other factors you mentioned it are valid too.

    Avi, you want to know how secular people arrive at their morality? Steven007 and I are doing just that right now. I expect that Steven will return comment if he wants to clarify or present a different view. I will give fair consideration to his opinion on the matter and if I think it’s valuable then I could incorporate it into my own moral framework. This is how it’s done! It’s a newer, better way of doing things than to be issued an edict from dusty old tribal books from several thousand years ago. Don’t do this or you’ll burn in hell for all eternity! -because I say so!!! This is the bad old way of doing things. As I mentioned above, we have newer, better ways of refining moral frameworks.

  142. @LaurieB (#161)

    LaurieB, you make an excellent point in your 4th paragraph (The second thing I thought of right away is…) regarding addiction to social media and certainly cell phones are included in this (screens in general; and our parents thought we watched too much TV!) and the reasonable and sagacious practice of computer usage agreements between parents and children. And then possible abuse of this arrangement by either party. Poor management indeed. And though Avi didn’t explicitly state this of course, it’s reasonable to think that in a caring household such arrangements take place.

    As I said before, we certainly wouldn’t have evolved without an innate morality. No clarification needed; you represented my points well. Sometimes it (morality and the way we come to settle it) reminds me of the Supreme Court with the vastly differing factions who may agree on little (think RGB vis-à-vis Scalia), but are innately moral (for the most part).

    I know I’m veering off topic here but I joined into a conversation once on LinkedIn of all things (a writers group as that encompasses my current post scientist vocation) concerning the term ‘selfie’. This was early in the phenomenon (well, term usage), perhaps 2 years ago. I was firmly in the camp of calling it (that is, the act of taking a picture of oneself) what it’s been called since photography first began: a self portrait. I got pushback from many who said the term has evolved and that ubiquitous phone camera use has rendered the term ‘self portrait’ dusty and staid. I agreed to disagree. But guess what? I use the term now. I’ve evolved. I still don’t like the term. I hate the tendency to add curlicues onto the ends of words to make them sound cute. To me ‘selfie’ sounds childish. But times change. And people evolve. And though that’s only tangentially related to what we’re speaking of, it came to mind so I thought I’d share.

  143. Avi Goldstein #154
    May 26, 2017 at 9:37 am

    True, Steven, people built and create, because God has given humankind incredible abilities to be creative, to perfect His world by adding to it!

    Perfection is meeting set targets 100%, and as such is usually a fantasy.

    Nature and evolution do not “do” perfection.
    In life forms, nature does “adequate to get by” and compete for resources.
    Organisms which fail die, or their species become extinct.
    Mechanical devices don’t “do” perfection either.

    There are no idealised targets in nature.
    Just the will to live and reproduce in living organisms.

    Any targets set by humans are made up by humans.

  144. Avi Goldstein #154
    May 26, 2017 at 9:37 am
    True, Steven, people built and create, because God has given humankind incredible abilities to be creative, to perfect His world by adding to it!

    It sounds like God has provided us with an amazing utopia but then, why are we struggling every day with cancer, Ebola, Huntington’s disease, starvation, and a thousand other gruesome and painful deadly conditions here in our perfect world?

    This is where theology suffers a total fail. Why does your God let evil exist? Is it that he doesn’t care or that he is too weak to stop it? If it’s all part of his perfect plan then he’s nothing but a supernatural all powerful sadist.

  145. Children so reflect their parents, Avi.

    Morality mandated is no such thing, of course, nor love demanded nor so a kindness.

    Kids were asked for none of this. They are here, were we honest, to satisfy our needs and all obligations are to them without let. This means we should try our darndest to educate them and encourage in them a rich and productive mental life in their own support and to foster in them that mutuality we critically depend on for others to flourish around us.

    Love bidden is worm tongued.

    In short, get your own cherries. Maybe, at a push, ask him if you think his mother would like some cherries…

    No one loves a Patriarch, Avi. Fear is their just dessert….and the grinningest of smiles.

  146. Getting close to Shabbat, that ancient, time-worn ritual of doing no creative activities for 25 hours (boy, are we dumb!), but I did take a quick look and I thank those who have responded.
    I will meanwhile address Phil’s comment. Phil, very interesting, because from a Jewish perspective, as you probably know, the exact opposite is true! While of course parents have an obligation to raise their children properly (for Jews, that would mean a Jewish education and teaching them the myriad rituals), it is parents who must honor children, not the other way around. One of the stated obligations for a child is to “feed” his/her parents. And so of course Frank needs to drop his controller, get the cherries, pick out the best ones, wash them, and bring them to Dad.

  147. LaurieB #161
    May 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    The first thing I thought of too was that if I wanted the damn cherries I’d get up and get them for myself.
    I’ve noticed in certain other authoritarian fundamentalist cultures that parents order their children around to run and get this and that and to do chores that are considered to be low status tasks.
    I have a very different view of how this should be handled.

    Within a group or family, who defers to whom in getting priority or service in relation to food, is certainly not specific to groups of humans.

    Pecking orders and dominance feature very much in social animals – packs of dogs – wolves, chimps, hens, etc.
    On the savannah there is even a pecking order among different species of scavengers.

    Those who claim that a religious hierarchy with dominant priests is needed for social order and stability, fail to recognise the inherent nature of groups, packs, or families, or the religious take-overs of inherent structures in order for memes to dominate.

    There are certainly evolved codes of conduct in nature!

    http://www.ncarescue.org/pdfs/packref.pdf

    There are two separate dominance orders within each pack:
    a male order and a female order.
    The highest ranking member of each order occupies the “alpha” position.
    “Alpha”is followed by the “beta” individual and so forth until the last position which is called”omega” (as in the Greek alphabet).
    Very few individuals are considered “equal”.

  148. Avi Goldstein #167
    May 26, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    While of course parents have an obligation to raise their children properly (for Jews, that would mean a Jewish education and teaching them the myriad rituals), it is parents who must honor children, not the other way around. One of the stated obligations for a child is to “feed” his/her parents. And so of course Frank needs to drop his controller, get the cherries, pick out the best ones, wash them, and bring them to Dad.

    It sounds very like the wolf pack! (#168)
    All are expected to feed the small pups, but teenagers are subordinate and defer to the alphas and adults!

  149. Avi

    Oh yes! I’m very well acquainted with the ins and outs of tribal society. The pecking order is extremely rigid. I lived for some years in a tribal society and still have one foot in it now. Of course the entire Middle East and North Africa are still stuck more or less in the tribal era especially in the rural areas. Correct me if I’m wrong Avi, but when I read your comment you seem to be advocating or respecting tribal societies and their pecking order hierarchies, do I have that right? Difficult to tell because I can’t see your facial expressions on a website! It’s important to clarify sometimes to avoid misunderstandings.

    I will tell you directly now that life in a tribal society is extremely authoritarian and harsh for every single member of that extended family from the top of the ladder right down to the young children. The social dynamics that are part and parcel of tribal living have consequences on everyone in the group. For one thing, there is high daily stress on everyone to hold your status and do what you can to improve it. You need to form the right alliances and promote your own situation at all times. Punish those who thwart you – along with their allies in the family. On any given day you may find yourself in alliance with someone on one issue but pitted against them on another issue. This promotes the kind of relationships that shift with the desert sands and can’t be counted on for one single minute. And here’s the biggest problem I encountered there; as you said, there is an absolute top male patriarch and an absolute top matriarch and their power is absolute. But what happens when one of them or the second tier high status adults are imbeciles? It happens all of the time! Idiot bad leaders abound in these societies! This is a disaster for every single person in that tribe.

    This is a very old social system from ancient times. I would not want to raise my kids in that system and that’s why I didn’t stay in that location. Most American and in general, Western families have moved away from the rigid authoritarian model I described and it can’t happen too soon. To maintain the level of authority in tribal societies you must sacrifice a close emotional love relationship. This is a severe vulnerability to anyone who seeks higher rungs on the ladder. When we have our defenses up in this old model to the degree that we need them to be then how can we create an intimate trusting love with someone? It won’t happen and it’s a lot to lose.

    People low on the ladder fear those who are higher than them and remember every slight that they suffered. The lessons learned by those on the bottom rungs (where everyone starts) are 1. How to be a talented liar. 2. How to not get caught. 3. How to get what you want/need by obsequious weedling or if that doesn’t work then steal. 4. How to take punishment with your head held high and not a single tear in your eye no matter how bad you get beat or humiliated.

    Avi, this is a system that produces emotionally crippled individuals. We can do so much better than this but someone in the family has to make a break with the past. I realize that kids need strong guidance but this doesn’t mean inflicting an attachment disorder on them from day one. Kids can know that their parents are only human just like them. We make mistakes, screw things up, have regrets and fears and even so, they get up and carry on. Isn’t this more valuable for them to observe than learning how a family dictator operates and then waiting stealthily day by day until the day comes that finally, after a funeral, they take the top spot and proceed to implement the tactics that they were the victim of themselves for so many years?

    Just because wolves and other animals live in a brutal hierarchy it doesn’t mean we should admire it nor should we promote it. We can do better!

  150. Avi

    One of the stated obligations for a child is to “feed” his/her parents. And so of course Frank needs to drop his controller, get the cherries, pick out the best ones, wash them, and bring them to Dad,…

    Says D_d.

    Do you see the moral flaw yet? Do you see where it comes from?

    What if children brought you cherries occasionally because they just simply loved you? That time when you were sad or looked lost or felt hopeless. What if our interactions were more like gifts? What if we could do better than tradition?

  151. LaurieB #171
    May 26, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Just because wolves and other animals live in a brutal hierarchy it doesn’t mean we should admire it nor should we promote it.

    Unfortunately those who have had enforced discipline indoctrinate them in deferring to alpha gods and beta priests, don’t even dare think about challenges.

    We can do better!

    . . . but “doing better” is only achieved by those who can recognise the psychology of the ingrained repression and oppression, which keeps others routinely demonstrating their submission to assumed “authority”, by jumping through weird memetic hoops!
    They defer to alpha commanders and commandments – even imaginary ones!

    The Christian use of the term “flock”, is very appropriate.

    The sheep defer to the sheepdog and the sheepdog defers to the shepherd.
    Those priest-dogs keep their flocks providing their memetic shepherd a good supply of generations of live meat to live off – and plenty of humble crowds, performing stunts to show deference, as a role model for the impressionable!

  152. One of the stated obligations for a child is to “feed” his/her parents

    One of the right things to do is for an child (of appropriate age) to look after its old or unable parent(s).

    Fixed (as a general statement missing great detail)

    Any of these “laws” that require the state to make a similar statement to the child?

    Reading more and more of Avi’s posts I think I now realise why I was dismissed from the start!

  153. I have only recently paid any attention to a habit my wife and I have gotten into. Sitting watching tv in the evening, my wife will ask me to go get her a yogurt. I do. Later, when I fancy a pineapple lolly, I ask her if she would get me one and she does. I started getting up and getting my own lolly even though I had already done the yogurt run, and it didn’t seem right. Not because I thought it was fair but because we hadn’t had the interaction and the possible need to reinforce the bond, the love. It is a selfish act but brings something to any relationship. Not sure I would be as willing to return to the ritual if I was ordered to or had such a fear that I felt compelled to.

  154. Olgun

    One of the right things to do is for an child (of appropriate age) to look after its old or unable parent(s).

    Yes, it’s the right thing to do and this made me think of a line from one of Pinker’s books (can’t remember which one) where he was discussing this very topic and he said (paraphrasing) that if there’s one good reason for parents to be good to their kids it’s so that when the parents are in a position to need care and help then their kids will be there for them out of love, not out of guilt.

    The more I think about the cherries example the more peeved I get. How about this scenario:

    He’s in the fruit section of the shop when he spots a display of perfectly ripe gorgeous cherries, his favorite. Too expensive but he can’t resist. He buys a pound, takes them home all happy, washes them and mouth watering in anticipation prepares to woof down the whole pound right there. But then what happens is this, he hears his wife and kids in the background and imagines how much they would enjoy those cherries too and he divides them up equally and passes the cups around.

  155. One of the right things to do is for an child (of appropriate age) to look after its old or unable parent(s).

    No. Not enough information to agree. “Look after” meaning? Soo many exceptions. Soo many other lives involved.

    Love and its discernment is the decider that cuts the crap.

  156. The right thing to do is never ask someone else to do something it is equal effort for you to do. Offer to do things for others if it is easier for you at that moment, or if you just feel moved to do it.

  157. Laurie #177

    there’s one good reason for parents to be good to their kids it’s so
    that when the parents are in a position to need care and help then
    their kids will be there for them out of love, not out of guilt.

    Seems like common sense and evolutionary sense at one to me Laurie.

    He’s in the fruit section……..

    Reminded me of some stray dogs we encountered in Cyprus on the beach last month. I love dogs but have never had one. Too busy to give the dog the attention it needs and now we go to North Cyprus three times a year so don’t know if we will ver have one. There were three dogs with the father, mother and pup. First time we had seen a family group move around together like that. My wife carries cat food around with her and feeds every cat she sees, so when this pup hesitantly approached her, with mum close at every step, out came the food and mum must have given the nod because the puppy approached after a few looks back at mum. Dad then came around the corner to see what was going on and he was the thinnest of the three. Mum and pup looked really well. My wife saw this and turned from the munching pup to dad who backed away a little. She put the food down for him and moved back. He moved in, sniffed a little by which time the pup started sniffing around his food and licking its fathers face. It seemed the pup got the nod again and gobbled up his fathers share. Neither the mother or the father ate a single morsel and seemed to be encouraging the pup to eat the lot. Food finished, mum let us play with the puppy while she sat just out of reach and dad just a little further away but always watching us. It really was a great experience. Relatively wild dogs exploiting the soppy tourists for their pup. Dad needs to be a little bit more selfish though. He was suffering.

    Dad has to provide but in the land of plenty (the west) dad slips just that one extra cherry into his cup but everyone gets cherries. As Avi’s question has shown, the one question can yield many scenarios so I guess its easier, in the lazy sense, to take it literally and become a despot to your own kin.

  158. Phil #178

    That is why I put the proviso in the brackets Phil. Not even ‘the good book’ advises that things should be taken out of context I should imagine. People are acting on single statements without consulting other parts. I was hoping to show I understand that I don’t understand the complexity but it seems I failed. Sorry.

  159. Olgun

    No, I think you made it clear that context is important. Even though I went on a ramble about the negative side of authoritarian tribal model, I do understand that five thousand years ago that model was a good strong survival and success strategy for the entire tribe. Ten strong sons, ten strong nephews, brothers, uncles, etc. and a fierce patriarch to manage them and that tribe can fend off the neighbors, acquire new land and the resources that come with that, make top marriage matches for the young people and increase the reputation of the entire tribe. Raising children in an extended family has many advantages for all.

    Feeding the wild cats, reminds me of my very sad experience in a beautiful place on the coast in Algeria. Strolling along and came across a kitten in the path. It was gravely ill and dying. I broke down crying and it’s the moment that I actually verbalized for the first time that there’s definitely no God. Definitely not. Previously it was just a murky thought in my mind that wasn’t worth the time it took to say it but in that moment, the cruelty overwhelmed me and the declaration came rushing out with a force. Even though the memory is thirty years old I feel tears in my eyes remembering it. The power of memory is a strange thing.

  160. Ollie

    That is why I put the proviso in the brackets Phil.

    You did and said things more carefully than I hastily judged. The fault is mine.

    So. Pineapple Lolly? I’m just off to the corner shop. There is mango Solero I can’t shift from my thoughts now…

  161. Olgun #180
    May 27, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Dad has to provide but in the land of plenty (the west) dad slips just that one extra cherry into his cup but everyone gets cherries. As Avi’s question has shown, the one question can yield many scenarios so I guess its easier, in the lazy sense, to take it literally and become a despot to your own kin.

    I think a key difference between and alpha leader and an alpha despot, is that while the alpha despot feels the need to assert dominance over every little item, the alpha leader has the last word last, on important matters, AFTER considering various viewpoints and interests!

  162. Laurie

    Feeding the wild cats, reminds me of my very sad experience in a beautiful place on the coast in Algeria. Strolling along and came across a kitten in the path. It was gravely ill and dying. I broke down crying and it’s the moment that I actually verbalized for the first time that there’s definitely no God. 
    

    I am a strong atheist, as you know, but what you described above, while I know it meant something to you, is really no argument, and proves nothing, demonstrates nothing. In fact one could argue that it is precisely because life is so fleeting, and because we just seem like a numberless throng of manufactured articles of nature continuously coming-to-be and passing away, and because the world is full of such misery and nature appears so unjust and cruel (as symbolically represented to you by the cat), and because we are heading toward no final goal on earth, that the religious always refer to the “other world” as the real and better one. That is of course nonsense; but pointing to wars and famines and crime and illness and death, to all those things that make it seem as if there must be no God (which there isn’t), is fodder for proselytizers; that is their premise, their point of departure: “Christ is not of this world; the world is a bad place filled with cruelty and death; come join us, forget the world and everything having to do with the world and worldliness, and save your immortal soul, etc.”

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  164. Dan

    Yes, the dying kitten was both an upsetting incident in that moment and it also represented all of the cruelty, suffering and injustice too. It was a pointless death that I was helpless to prevent. Death of a kitten is nothing compared to the massive suffering and death of humans that is a well known part of human history and this is my meaning; God can’t even help one little kitten and has done nothing to stop death and destruction of millions of people either. What the hell good is he?!!!

    If proselytizers use this like in the example that you gave above then to hell with them all. I can’t worry about it because I know of plenty of examples of people who gave up on God because he wasn’t there when they needed him or because God allowed something bad to happen to them or to others. I think there’s a story about Darwin losing his faith because his young daughter died and he was crushed with grief. I’ve also heard of Jews losing their faith in God because he let the holocaust happen. Can’t say as I blame them for that.

  165. Nor can I.

    Just making the point that religious people will use that to argue that God is indifferent to all those terrible things you mentioned, cares about nothing except the condition of our souls as individuals, its “purity”. Hogwash, of course.

  166. Phil wrote:
    What if children brought you cherries occasionally because they just simply loved you? That time when you were sad or looked lost or felt hopeless. What if our interactions were more like gifts? What if we could do better than tradition?

    Agreed, Phil, there is no contradiction! Judaism does believe that alongside the stated obligations of child to parent, any attempt to make one’s parent happy is a mitzvah (good deed). That is not “doing better” than tradition, it IS tradition.
    At the same time, what parent does not enjoy doing something nice for his /her child? This too is a mitzvah, in the sense that doing good for anyone is a mitzvah. However, we view the obligation from child to parent as much deeper.

  167. Steven wrote:
    I believe one of the things the torah teaches is that there are absolutes (feel free to correct my assumption).

    Steven, the Torah teaches that there are SOME absolutes. For example, we see no leeway regarding certain matters of faith. We are mandated to believe, for example, that God gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and that the people of Israel heard God “speak” at that time.

    However, in almost every matter of Jewish law, there is room for disagreement. And boy, is there disagreement! The Talmud is replete with argument after argument concerning points of Jewish law. And through the centuries, thousands of commentaries and responsa have been written, with the inevitable result that disagreements abound. How we resolve (or, sometimes, don’t resolve) these issues for practical use is itself embedded in (and the subject of further debate) within Jewish law.
    As regards Frank and the cherries (sounds like a British-invasion band!), I tried to make the example as clear-cut as possible so that we could discuss the case without having to explore extraneous circumstances (e.g., is Dad in a wheechair, Frank has high fever, etc.). I was trying to get at a particular point, and i shall cover that in my next comment.

  168. I want to thank everyone who responded to my cherries scenario. Here, now, is the point I am elucidating, and no, the question was not a trap designed to produce particular responses; I sincerely wished to hear what you all had to say.
    Evolutionists believe in the ever-ascending natural order. Starting with inorganics, evolving into organic material and further up the scale until man appears. And as man advances, he becomes ever more evolved in a number of ways. Thus, while it is natural (I think we can agree) for a child to love and therefore honor his parents, there is not intrinsic value to this love/honor/respect. It is no different than the honor accorded to others. Why, indeed, should one accord special honor to someone who is lower on the evolutionary scale? The further away we get from our ancestors, the better! (If I have this wrong, kindly correct me.)
    Judaism’s view is the opposite. (I am not referring now to the question of the evolutionary hypothesis; Judaism does not really care HOW we came into being.) Judaism views older generations as closer to God and as wiser by far than we. To us, the Revelation at Sinai (which we mark this week on the holiday of Shavuot) is the apex of man’s existence, a time when God spoke to us. Not even the leading Talmud scholars of today approaches the level of Moses and Aaron. We moderns also to not begin to approach the scholarship level of the Talmudic Sages, who, great as they were, do not come to the shoetops of Moses and Aaron. And so, it is perfectly logical (not to mention the law) that we honor our elders; they are closer to Sinai than we are! (I am not asking you to accept this, I am just explaining our theology.)
    Parents, besides being closer to Sinai, also brought us into this world, allowing us to do mitzvot and caring for us as we grew. They are accorded a special place regarding honor, whether or not we feel they “deserve” it.
    As in almost all matters of Jewish law, sometimes we face issues that require a resolution. For example, say twenty-year-old Jacob wishes to pursue his Torah studies. Dad and Mom want him to go to college and prepare for a career? Now two vital values are in conflict: honoring one’s parents vs. studying Torah. In cases such as these, Jacob and his parents may choose to ask a Torah scholar what to do. Interestingly, different scholars may come to different conclusions, because Torah is not monolithic.
    Anyway, it is the ascent/descent issue that I wished to highlight.

  169. Laurie said, in response to my comment about humans perfecting God’s world:
    It sounds like God has provided us with an amazing utopia but then, why are we struggling every day with cancer, Ebola, Huntington’s disease, starvation, and a thousand other gruesome and painful deadly conditions here in our perfect world?

    Laurie, I did not say that the world is perfect. I said precisely the opposite, that we are on earth to perfect God’s world. God did not put us in a utopia (at least, not after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden). The world is very much imperfect. Our task is to cure diseases, to alleviate hunger, to help those who suffer. And by doing these, we become God’s partners in Creation.

  170. Alan, regarding your question about Ignosticism, I do not believe that God’s existence is something that has to be proved. In my Philosophy of Religion college class, I argued strongly against Anselm’s Ontological Argument for God’s existence, because I believed the proof to be flawed (I still do, 40 years later.) Belief in God is belief, and it is not subject to proofs. Nonetheless, through the centuries, Jews have believed so strongly in God that they have willingly given up their lives for their faith. What an awesome achievement: to die rather than abandon our faith!

  171. Oh, for goodness sake, I’ll end all this Avi Goldstein nonsense with the same question I use to silence all orthodox Jews. This coming September, you’ll be celebrating Rosh-Hashanah, which means it will be the year 5778. So exactly what event happened 5,778 years ago that you will be commemorating?

    Checkmate.

    It’s not possible to answer this question without instantly reducing yourself to the level of Ken Ham.

  172. Avi Goldstein #189
    May 28, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Evolutionists believe in the ever-ascending natural order.

    Evolutionary biologists and astronomers don’t!
    That is the claim of the unscientific perverted Theistic Evolution, which is NOT a scientific theory, but is a fanciful fudge, which tries to put man and god(s) as the the central feature of life, the Earth, the Solar-System and the Universe.
    The scientific evidence shows nothing of the kind and is not how physical or biological evolution is observed to work!
    The laws of physics worked on stars and planets, for billions of years before the Earth existed, and will continue to work for billions of years after planet Earth ceases to exist. Similarly eco-systems existed on Earth long before man existed, ans may well exist if man chooses or is afflicted with extinction.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Theistic_evolution

    Theistic evolution (also evolutionary creationism) is a theological response to the scientific theory of evolution, aimed at reconciling that theory with religious myths involving a creator deity. Supporters of theistic evolution generally believe in the creator deity unreservedly, and also accept the theory of evolution to varying degrees.

    Human existence, is an almost infinitesimally small part of one percent of the material size and time scale of the Solar-System, the Galaxy, and the Universe and is VERY far from being a central feature of it!

    Starting with inorganics, evolving into organic material

    This is abiogenesis, which is being studied and partially replicated in laboratories by geneticists.
    It is probably only a matter of time before self replicating engineered life is created in a lab.

    and further up the scale until man appears.

    There are no scales or objectives in evolution. Simple and complex organisms evolve side by side. The vast majority of modern living organisms are single cells, as they were for billions of years before more complex multicellular organisms evolved.

    And as man advances, he becomes ever more evolved in a number of ways.

    This is nonsense! There are greater and lesser levels of complexity and functional adaptation, but there is no evidence whatever of forward planned objectives in evolution. Evolution works on diversification, opportunism, and selective pressures from the environment of the time and place.

  173. Avi Goldstein #191
    May 28, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Alan, regarding your question about Ignosticism, I do not believe that God’s existence is something that has to be proved.

    That is indeed an honest answer, that your belief is based on the faith instilled in your up-bringing, and is not modified or up-dated by evidence of proofs.

    Belief in God is belief, and it is not subject to proofs.

    Ignosticism points out that in most cases god claims are not even subject to definitions, and as such do not even present an agenda for a debate.

    Nonetheless, through the centuries, Jews have believed so strongly in God that they have willingly given up their lives for their faith. What an awesome achievement: to die rather than abandon our faith!

    History would support you in those claims – but it would equally support followers of many thousands of conflicting religions who have similarly given their lives for their unshakable beliefs.
    Indeed we see many instances when conflicting unshakable beliefs lead to religious genocides and wars, – as in the crusades, or in the Spanish Inquisition.
    Unquestioning adherence to indoctrinated beliefs held on faith (belief without evidence or proof), is a criticism atheists and scientists make of religious conflicts, destructive anti-science campaigns, and religious thinking.

    Religions begin with “faith” and concoct circular arguments to attempt to justify preconceptions.

    Science starts with objective observations and evidence which stands up to critical examination and independent repeat testing. It then follows the evidence – using logic and mathematics – to conclusions.

    It then grades information according to the strength of the supporting evidence, into laws, theories, hypotheses, speculations, unevidenced, refuted, etc. according to their starting premises, credibility, probability and competence of process/methodology.

  174. Avi Goldstein #191
    May 28, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Belief in God is belief, and it is not subject to proofs.

    Jewish god-belief does however, have a history of its origins and evolution, as I pointed out @#36, #77, and #158.

    There is also increasing scientific evidence of the (many conflicting and contradictory) god-delusional images implanted in the brains of believers, – structured according to cultural background and geographical location.
    The supposed views of these gods, coincide remarkably well, with the levels of education, indoctrination, and knowledge, of the believers’ brains and populations they inhabit!

    Nonetheless, through the centuries, Jews have believed so strongly in God that they have willingly given up their lives for their faith.

    That would be a bit like the priests of Baal in the biblical story, or those native Americans burned at the stake by Catholic inquisitors!

    What an awesome achievement: to die rather than abandon our faith!

    That is indeed the thinking shared by jihadists, Roman Catholic “martyrs”, Jehova’s witnesses who refuse blood-transfusions, or those who refuse to have vaccinations!

    Applause for “heroic deaths” for religions or ideologies, come from the indoctrinated “home-team”, the “home tribe”, or the manipulative leadership elites! They do nothing to add merit to the views died for!

  175. I just read a post on WEIT that informed me that today is Menstrual hygiene day. Here’s the link to the Wiki page that Jerry also posted on his site:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_hygiene_day

    The goal:
    Menstrual hygiene day (MHD or MH Day) is an annual awareness day, on 28 May, that aims to break taboos and raise awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for women and adolescent girls worldwide.

    inadequate menstrual hygiene management is connected with several problems that females face, in particular in developing countries. The current silence about menstruation limits women’s and adolescent girls’ access to relevant and important information about their bodies, directly affecting their health, education, dignity and human rights

    Menstrual Hygiene Day makes audible and visible a growing transnational movement that promotes body literacy and autonomy, as well as gender equality.[6]

    2015[edit]
    On and around 28 May 2015, organisations and individuals from all over the world came together to recognise the second Menstrual Hygiene Day under the theme “Let‘s end the hesitation around menstruation”. In total, 127 events in 33 countries took place, using the day as an opportunity to engage men and boys as well, link to other important women’s and girls’ issues, advance policy advocacy, reach the marginalised, and challenge societal norms that claim that menstrual periods are shameful or dirty.[27]

    From the Wiki page on menstrual taboo:

    A menstrual taboo is any social taboo concerned with menstruation. In some societies it involves menstruation being perceived as unclean or embarrassing, extending even to the mention of menstruation both in public (in the media and advertising) and in private (amongst the friends, in the household, and with men). Many traditional religions consider menstruation ritually unclean.

    Christianity[edit]
    Some church fathers defended the exclusion of women from ministry based on a notion of uncleanness.[5] Others held that purity laws should be discarded as part of the Old Covenant.[6] In spite of the restrictions in Leviticus, Jesus allowed himself to be touched by a hemorrhaging woman and cured her (Mark 5:25-34).

    Hinduism[edit]
    In the Hindu faith, menstruating women are traditionally considered ritually impure and given rules to follow. During menstruation, women are not allowed to “enter the kitchen and temples, sleep in the day-time, bathe, wear flowers, have sex, touch other males or females.”[7] They may not mount a horse, ox, or elephant, nor may they drive a vehicle.[8] Women themselves are seen as impure and polluted, and are often isolated as untouchables, unable to return to their family, for the length of their period.[9]

    Islam[edit]
    In Islam, a woman is exempted from prayer and performing other religious activities such as fasting or circumambulating the Kaaba, but their Hajj will still be valid. This is in accordance with the law of the uncleanliness of any blood. Sexual intercourse with her husband is strictly prohibited during menstrual periods. However, she can perform all other acts of social life as normal. According to authentic traditions, Muhammad encouraged menstruating women to be present at festive religious services for the two Eid holidays, although they were excused from praying.

    Judaism[edit]
    Main article: Niddah
    In the Torah (Leviticus 15:19-30), a menstruating woman is considered ritually unclean – “anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening” (New International Version). Touching her, touching an object she had sat or lain on, or having intercourse with her also makes a person ritually unclean. The extent to which these rules are observed in modern Judaism varies depending on the degree of conservatism/orthodoxy.

    Thank goodness for these activists who protest the old cruel misogynistic thinking and behavior that is deeply imbedded in the religious ideology that oppresses women around the world, and yes, even here in the US of A as explained in the article above and defended in many comments here on this thread.

    Women are NOT dirty or polluted when they are menstruating and not when they are between menstrual periods either. Plenty of people engage in sexual behavior at that time of the month and lo and behold! nothing bad happened to them. News flash – some people actually don’t give a damn about it and reserve the right to make THEIR OWN decisions about when to have sex and what types of sexual behavior they want to engage in.

    Muslims can’t have sex during ramadan between sunrise and sunset and never during menstruation. Jews can’t have sex if there’s a hint of menstruation approaching based on an outsider’s opinion and Christians object to women’s unclean state at that time of the month. Jesus allowed himself to be touched by an unclean woman – what a guy. Hey Jesus, thanks for nothing.

    Here’s to the cherry picking moderate religionists who even though they can’t seem to think their way out of the oppressive theology that holds us women down, at least have the independence of mind to reject the mind control that seeks to control our most intimate relations with the people we love and also with the people that we may not love but just want to have sex with. We own our bodies and are perfectly capable of managing our own sex lives without interference from the ideas of the bad old days and the old (mentally and physically) shriveled (scared to death of women) white guys.

  176. Avi,

    I already said that religion is based on faith, not reason. You took issue with that. But you yourself said there can be no proof of God’s existence. (193) Same thing.

    You said (128) that I am certain of my beliefs but others must be wrong about theirs, or something to that effect.

    My premise is that certainty and beliefs are opposed to each other. You Talk of God as though you were certain and seem to question the morals of people who don’t see the truth. Your belief in God does not constitute objective truth, as I also said. This belief of yours is undeserving of the respect that you are seeking among the people on this site who insist upon evidence. Why can’t you understand that? Why should we be impressed by your beliefs? The psych wards and the subway cars Manhattan’s homeless people are filled with people ranting about God. Do you have anythithing new to add to this? IS your belief special? GIve me a reason to listen to you. I think we should focus on this world, on this life, and not waste – yes waste – our precious, rather short lives thinking about something that will soon be universally regarded as mythology, like the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome and Greece, and is also nothing other than glorified superstition. And the onus is on you to demonstrate that there is a God. To attempt to demonstrate that something doesn’t exist is illogical. I ask you again: do you comprehend that?

    If there is something in your belief in God, and in Judaism, that helps you in life, that is fine. But don’t waste your energy; we are men and women who are trying to lead a life guided by reason. Reason is not a religion or a belief system; it is a guide, it assists one in making judgments, judgments based on the best empirical evidence that is available to one at any given moment in time.

    I hope that was helpful.

    Regards, DR

  177. Avi,

    I already said that religion is based on faith, not reason. You took issue with that. But you yourself said there can be no proof of God’s existence. (193) Same thing.

    You said (128) that I am certain of my beliefs but others must be wrong about theirs, or something to that effect.

    My premise is that certainty and beliefs are opposed to each other. You Talk of God as though you were certain and seem to question the morals of people who don’t see the truth. Your belief in God does not constitute objective truth, as I also said. This belief of yours is undeserving of the respect that you are seeking among the people on this site who insist upon evidence. Why can’t you understand that? Why should we be impressed by your beliefs? The psych wards and the subway cars and the streets of Manhattan is filled with people (mostly homeless) ranting about God. Do you have anythithing new to add to this? IS your belief special? GIve me a reason to listen to you. I think we should focus on this world, on this life, and not waste – yes waste – our precious, rather short lives thinking about something that will soon be universally regarded as mythology, like the gods and goddesses of Ancient Rome and Greece, and is also nothing other than glorified superstition. And the onus is on you to demonstrate that there is a God. To attempt to demonstrate that something doesn’t exist is illogical. I ask you again: do you comprehend that?

    If there is something in your belief in God, and in Judaism, that helps you in life, that is fine. But don’t waste your energy; we are men and women who are trying to lead a life guided by reason. Reason is not a religion or a belief system; it is a guide, it assists one in making judgments, judgments based on the best empirical evidence that is available to one at any given moment in time.

    I hope that was helpful.

    Regards, DR

    Mods, please delete comment 200; there was no timer or delete option (a glitch). Thank you.

  178. Alan4discussion #44
    May 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Avi Goldstein #42
    May 23, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.

    Err no! That is a strawman claim and an unevidenced assertion!

    The evolution of the Earth following its formation, is explained by the Giant impact hypothesis, as most astronomers and educated people know. This is an evidence based logical understanding of accretion events which are still observable and on-going in the Solar System!

    These earlier comments demonstrate the differences between knowledge based on objective scientific measurements and logical deductions, and the uncritical acceptance of ancient flawed speculative assertions from ancient writings based on “faith”!

    The Genesis story of creation, has events about the formation of the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, life in the oceans, and life on land, mixed up in the wrong sequence and millions or billions of years out of place on the time-scales.
    It has no credibility when compared to the scientific evidence of these sequences and processes.

  179. LaurieB #199

    We own our bodies and are perfectly capable of managing our own sex lives without interference from the ideas of the bad old days and the old (mentally and physically) shriveled (scared to death of women) white guys.

    Absolutely 100 percent right! Yes!

  180. To my comment that ” those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical,” Alan responded: “The evolution of the Earth following its formation, is explained by the Giant impact hypothesis, as most astronomers and educated people know. This is an evidence based logical understanding of accretion events which are still observable and on-going in the Solar System!”

    Alan, the Giant impact hypothesis (and yes, sir, it is a HYPOTHESIS) is kind of cool, and it is likely science fiction. For one to assert that a hypothesis is something that most “educated people KNOW” is obnoxious as well as a misunderstanding of the term hypothesis.
    But the truth is, Alan, that this is irrelevant. Even if one were to grant that somehow the universe came into being on its own (a totally illogical, unreasonable notion), one still cannot explain how the universe subsequently ordered itself into galaxies, then spawned organidc matter, then somehow evolved thinking beings, then created eyes, ears and a mouth, all in the precise places they need to be, then created the absolutely masterful digestive system, etc. Your disbelief can only produce astonishment among thinking people!

  181. I wish to clarify my comment that my belief in God is a belief and is not based on proofs. It seems this was taken as some sort of admission that my belief is not solidly grounded. Absolutely not the case! All I meant to say was that I don’t believe because I have proof. Further, I tend to frown upon those believers whose faith is, according to them, rooted in a proof of God’s existence.
    The reason for my skepticism is as because if one disproves the proof, then there goes the faith!
    However, faith based on belief is not weaker because of the lack of proof. I would give the following example (though I do have to think through this example to make sure it actually lines up logically). If one sees a ball, one will assume that the ball is fully round, even though one cannot possibly see the entire ball. One can never see more than half a ball. My faith in God is as strong, actually stronger, than my faith that the ball is round. For if I were asked to give up my life for my faith, I (hope I) would; I would not do the same for the ball.

  182. Idleracer said: Oh, for goodness sake, I’ll end all this Avi Goldstein nonsense with the same question I use to silence all orthodox Jews. This coming September, you’ll be celebrating Rosh-Hashanah, which means it will be the year 5778. So exactly what event happened 5,778 years ago that you will be commemorating?

    Racer, I shall end your idle nonsense with the following answer: As stated before, Judaism does not necessarily read the Torah literally. There are many highly regarded Orthodox thinkers who believe that the physical world was created millions (or billions) of years ago. I think most Orthodox thinkers will hold that Adam and Eve were created/born within the last 6000 years. However, we are open to the idea that Adam and Eve were preceded by earlier, less advanced humans. I find nothing here that contradicts our religion in any way.
    (For the record, the 5778 number is itself in question, as those familiar with the missing 165 years from the Second Temple era readily know.)
    So sorry, Racer, your idle chatter has ended nothing! Entirely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
    However, I will now end the nonsense of thinking that there can be evolution with Divine guidance. Kindly explain how the eye evolved. This should be entertaining.

  183. Avi

    Kindly explain how the eye evolved.

    Which bits don’t you get? E.g. what use is an eye without a lens: what use is an eye that doesn’t move; what use is a mere light sensitive patch; a sunken light sensitive patch; a segmented sensor etc.? Then we can better target your problem in understanding.

    Incidentally the eye has been re-invented by evolution at least seven times and with wonderful varieties. I love the fish eye with the added mirror that allows its owner to surreptitiously look down on its prey whilst swimming nonchalantly around. My favourite is the spider with zoom-able telescopic eyes….

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/see-a-jumping-spiders-eyes-move-in-its-head/

    On cherries. Agreeing with the premise that acts of apparent kindness are the more significant if they are actual acts of kindness, you then will maintain it seems the rightness that you bid your kid to serve you in the traditional manner? Does not compute. How is it not better to suggest to your child they might like to serve others as an act of kindness because, those others were kind, they are tired after working hard etc. the while doing such things yourself? Obedient and loving are a world apart and are mutually exclusive until the brain is conditioned to no longer notice.

    I have found the lives of the deeply religious bound with a consistent simulacrum of love. It looks right from afar only.

  184. So Adam was not made from mud but was upgraded from less advanced people and Eve was not from Adams rib but by an upgrade. It took a long time to do so, isn’t that evolution ????

  185. Avi,

    Let me qualify this

    I have found the lives of the deeply religious bound with a consistent simulacrum of love.

    I except much of say Kierkegaard (but not all!) and I except much of the deeply pious but pragmatic UK Quakers, my go to example of religious folk who realise their day job is to be the moral authors, built, one way or another for the purpose. These folk are deeply religious in some sense but entirely honest about the depths of their own ignorance. Neither, in this clarity, do they accept the warm words of others that they are certain of moral “facts”, for how are they different to know better?

  186. Avi Goldstein #201
    May 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    To my comment that ” those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical,” Alan responded:

    “The evolution of the Earth following its formation, is explained by the Giant impact hypothesis, as most astronomers and educated people know. This is an evidence based logical understanding of accretion events which are still observable and on-going in the Solar System!”

    Alan, the Giant impact hypothesis (and yes, sir, it is a HYPOTHESIS) is kind of cool, and it is likely science fiction.

    Err no! It is based on objective evidence of accretion processes in the Solar-System, and satellite data on asteroids and comets. Also the fact that at present, thousands of tons of space dust and small meteors fall on Earth every year as they have done since the formation of the Solar-System.
    The geological record on the rocks of the Earth and the Moon, and the physics and mathematical calculations of the limited ways in which the Moon could possibly get into it’s present day or past, orbital positions support this hypothesis.

    For one to assert that a hypothesis is something that most “educated people KNOW” is obnoxious as well as a misunderstanding of the term hypothesis.

    This is simply ignorance of astronomy and denial of mathematics on your part. It is a hypothesis because the finer details are not known, – not because any of the measurements or calculations are wrong. Confirmations and refinements, are moving its status to that of a scientific theory.
    Presumably you have an emotional blocking, to considering facts which refute your pre-conceptions by claiming them to be “obnoxious”!

    But the truth is, Alan, that this is irrelevant. Even if one were to grant that somehow the universe came into being on its own

    You have just jumped several BILLION YEARS from the formation of the Earth/World, to the formation of the Universe!

    (a totally illogical, unreasonable notion),

    The history of the Universe at the earliest stages of the big-bang is unknown by anyone.
    “Nobody knows:” therefore:- “I know that god-did-it!” is illogical.
    An honest admission of ignorance of the unknown, is not illogical! Neither is an evidence based rational explanation of the processes which followed the big-bang!

    one still cannot explain how the universe subsequently ordered itself into galaxies, then spawned organic matter,

    We certainly can explain the processes of star and planetary formation and galaxy building.
    Atoms of matter (Hydrogen and helium) formed from the energy of the big-bang BEFORE gravity organised it into stars and galaxies, as the exploding early stars created the heavier elements which make up organic matter.

    then somehow evolved thinking beings, then created eyes, ears and a mouth,

    Mouths, eyes, and ears, evolved millions of years before “complex thinking animal life”, as any biologists who have studied micro-organisms know!

    Your problem is a focus on the mythical stories of the origins of humans, combined with a profound ignorance of cosmology, astronomy, and evolutionary biology, along with an ignorance of the measuring equipment and techniques used in these subjects.
    {BTW: evolution is the central core of understanding the developments and interrelationships between biological organisms}

    These more complex features of multicellular animals are relatively recent in biological evolution, having developed in the last few hundred million years rather than the earlier billions.

    all in the precise places they need to be, then created the absolutely masterful digestive system, etc.

    Digestive systems evolved long before eyes and ears. The evolution of eyes (and ears in animals which have them) shows a diversity of developments with natural selection eliminating, by selection within species or extinctions, those which were not capable of competing or adapting to the changing environmental conditions. (Including competition within species as is observable in population today.)

    Your disbelief can only produce astonishment among thinking people!

    Err no! Educated thinking people study and understand these discovered scientific processes.
    They do not sit in incredulous bronze-age denial of the available evidence modern science and technology has provided.

    My disbelief in refuted ignorant assertions from mythology, and disinclination to accept assertions which contradict objective evidence, is the normal process of science rejecting refuted claims, and collecting evidence based, repeatedly confirmed, knowledge.

    Your argument takes the standard form of erroneous assertions from “faith-thinking” based on incredulity arising from a lack of basic scientific study, and the use of the usual “god-did-it-by mysterious magic” , as a pseudo-knowledge patch over ignorance of the subject matter!

    It also illustrates the inability of “faith-thinking” to up-date its views, by rejecting refuted erroneous notions by studying new evidence.
    It also causes the obstruction to objective learning which it inflicts on its adherents!

  187. Kindly explain how the eye evolved.

    The eye has evolved many times in many organisms and takes many forms.

    Even simple organisms and plants, can detect and respond to light.

    http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/eye/

    The overwhelming majority of life on our planet depends on the sun for energy. Because life is so tightly linked to the sun, it is no surprise that many organisms (excluding those that live in total darkness) have evolved the ability to detect and respond to light. Plants turn their leaves toward the sun. Single-celled algae, protists, and other microbes swim toward or away from light. But it is the animals, with our image-forming eyes, that have taken light detection to the next level.

    96% of animal species have eyes. The first animal eyes did little but detect light—they helped to establish day/night cycles and coordinate behavior—but more-complex eyes soon evolved. A predator who can see its prey from a distance, or a prey animal that can see the shadow of a predator approaching, has a clear survival advantage over those who can’t. Even a slight improvement in image quality provides a significant survival advantage, allowing for the step-by-step evolution of increasingly complex eyes.

  188. Kindly explain how the eye evolved.

    Molluscs (Flat-worms, snails shellfish squids octopus etc.) show a whole range of eyes from the most basic light sensitive cells on flatworms, through intermediate stages of complexity to the advance focussing eyes of the octopus.

    http://www.molluscs.at/mollusca/index.html?/mollusca/eyes.html

    The Evolution of the Mollusc Eye
    The example of the molluscs offers a good opportunity to observe the evolution of light sense organs in the animal kingdom. Among the numerous and various groups of molluscs there are primordial and advanced, movable and sessile species.

    In the most primitive form light perception happens by single sense cells located somewhere in the body. Singular light sense cells dispersed over the body surface, as on snails and segmented worms, can tell the difference between light and dark, so the animal may benefit from a shadow reflex to protect itself against predators. They are, however, not a sense organ in the common sense of speaking: A sense organ is a complete organ, not just singular cells, specialized in a defined sensory performance. The first light sense organ is a specialized field of light sense cells and pigment cells for lateral isolation. It is called a flat eye. It enables its possessor to differentiate between light and dark, but only basically makes it possible to tell where the light comes from.

    Flat eyes today can still be found in primitive groups of invertebrates, such as jellyfish (Coelenterata). It may also be assumed that the molluscs’ ancestors, primitive, worm-like ground-living creatures, also possessed such flat eyes.

    A primitive flat eye may be of valuable use to an animal either sessile or moving passively. The directed movement of more highly developed molluscs required the formation of more advanced light sense organs. In the consequence the light-sensitive epithelium of the flat eye caved in to form a pit. So the light sense cells on facing sides of the eye can tell apart light and shade. That makes it possible to determine where the light comes from. Pit shaped eyes can be found in sessile and slow moving invertebrates.

    In adaptation to a directed movement there was not only an evolution of eyes, but also a change in body form: Sense organs became concentrated at the end of the body facing towards the the main direction of movement: The head evolved as the centre of sensory activity (cephalization).

    While a pit eye may be able to differentiate between light and shade, it is not capable of producing pictures. Especially for predatory molluscs, having to observe and to follow their prey, an improvement of the eye’s picture projection capability was necessary: The eye opening narrowed, and in consequence the picture projected on the retina became more focused. So the pigmented cup eye came into existence. Today, in its primitive state, this type of eye can be found among certain bivalves and turbellarian worms.

    Pigmented cup eyes can also be found among primitive, mainly sessile, gastropods, such as limpets (Patellidae).

    Comparable to the pigmented cup eyes of primitive gastropods are the cuticular eyes of chitons (Polyplacophora). Those, as their name states, are situated in the dorsal shell plates of the chiton and enable the animal to tell apart light and shadow on its dorsal side.

    In the further course of evolution, the eye opening reduced in size and as a result the eye achieved abilities comparable to a so-called pinhole camera: A focused, but low-light picture can be projected to the retina. Among the molluscs, pinhole eyes can be found among ormers (Haliotidae) and primitive cephalopods, such as Nautilus. Nautilus is a living fossil, a remnant from the Mesozoic. It is also assumed, that fossil cephalopods, such as the giant endocerate Cameraceras from the Ordovician had similar eyes.

    In the pit eye and the pinhole eye, the inner space of the eye is filled by a secretion breaking the light rays and, at least basically, enhancing brightness and focus of the picture. This inner eye space could evolve noticeably, when the eye opening of the pinhole eye closed completely and was covered by a translucent epithelium. Among more highly developed snails, especially carnivorous sea gastropods, this liquid-filled bubble inside the eye became a primitive lens, making possible the perception of a relatively focused picture with a usable brightness (in contrary to the pinhole eye, in which focus always works at the expense of brightness).

    This vesicular or bubble eye reached its highest state of evolution among terrestrial snails: Looking at Roman snails (Helix pomatia) one can already discover a primitive lens eye. But there is no ciliar muscle in a snail’s eye, which means the snail cannot focus the picture it sees by changing the lens, except by moving its tentacles, an ability that remains restricted to terrestrial snails, the terrestrial pulmonate snails (Stylommatophora), to be exact, among those also the Roman snail. Only they have got the eyes at the end of the long tentacles.

    Eye stalks can also be found among some marine gastropods, for example conches (Strombidae). But they mainly enable the snail to look from under its shell without having to expose its head, not noticeably increasing its field of vision

    Another method of focusing the picture can be found among bivalves (Bivalvia): Those do not have a head, but swimming species, such as scallops (Pecten) and flame shells (Lima), have relatively well evolved eyes in their mantle rim. A mirror tissue, the argentea, reflects the light, whose point of focus would be behind the retina, back on it and so produces a more focused picture.

    The most highly evolved molluscs are cephalopods – cuttlefish, squids and octopuses. All of them are predators. Either they lurk and ambush their prey, or they hunt it actively. Their prey may be crabs or fish, but squids can compete in swimming even with the latter without effort.

    To be able to achieve this, cephalopods need extremely good eyes: A Nautilus with its pinhole eye never would be able to compete with a fish, even without the cumbersome shell.

    But squids have no shell (except a tiny inner shell, the gladius) and not only in swimming can compete with fish – also their eyes are more than adequate: They have got a lens, an iris and from outside look very much like a vertebrate eye.

    This is all well known to biologists, and has been known for years.

  189. Olgun #206
    May 29, 2017 at 4:37 am

    So Adam was not made from mud but was upgraded from less advanced people and Eve was not from Adams rib but by an upgrade. It took a long time to do so, isn’t that evolution ????

    I think that story will struggle with the inclusion of Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA! 🙂

  190. All this thread does is remind me of the old saying “if you waste your time arguing with a fool the chances are he’ll find he was doing the same thing.”

    The argument that maybe things will come out of such a discussion that will be helpful to others would be better served in a debate with someone rational, logical and open to even a possibility of changing his opinion than squandering the same amount of time with a troll. Anyway, other than that I’m staying well out of it. Others can choose how to spend (waste) their own time of course.

  191. If you could argue with religious people there would be no religious people.

    Arkrid, for me it is the moral poverty of moral dirigisme rather than the simple wrongness of understanding the universe that is an affront to my sensibilities. The big generous patriarch, kindly, smiling at his own goodness and the rightness of his world is blinded to so many harms. Does he even notice them? Notice them and dismiss them? Effect noticing them to better deflect being harassed about them? I want to know.

  192. Arkrid Sandwich #212
    May 29, 2017 at 7:32 am

    The argument that maybe things will come out of such a discussion that will be helpful to others would be better served in a debate with someone rational, logical and open to even a possibility of changing his opinion than squandering the same amount of time with a troll.

    As I suggested earlier, this thread strongly supports the view of igtheism for the benefit of the numerous readers which the “likes” suggest are following it.

    God claims can ramble around as long long as they stay with gapology – too vague to present something of substance to challenge, but as soon as they try to make claims about the functioning of the real world or challenge scientific explanations, they fall apart at very low level of understanding. (#208, #209, #210)

    The argument from ignorance (or argumentum ad ignorantiam and negative proof) is a logical fallacy that claims the truth of a premise is based on the fact that it has not (yet) been proven false,

    With the learning disability and inability to refute nonsense from the ignorance of the past, conferred by “faith-thinking” – as an inflexible process, it is almost inevitable!

    It is also highly likely, that those so disabled, will be unable to identify gaps in knowledge which have already been closed by modern science, so will therefore make ridiculous claims, that common knowledge is unknown or unknowable, – consequently asserting a default to a “god-did-it” patch, to cover personal ignorance!

  193. Consider yourself ‘lucky’ that you are being replied to Akrid. I, regardless of being an atheist, have been put below women and not worth talking to because of the religion I was born into. At first, I thought it was my supreme arguing skills that scared him off lol.

    We had a Muslim poster here a while back that asked us (especially Laurie) to write a psalm ‘as good as gods’ without realising he then had to judge the work of god and that might be a ‘sin’. He was obviously, to me anyway, showing off in front of his ‘students’ and claim he could tie us up in circles. Avi is doing the same thing and showing them he understands nothing is a good thing. It takes patience though. Something I haven’t got at the mo.

  194. Olgun #215
    May 29, 2017 at 9:13 am

    We had a Muslim poster here a while back that asked us (especially Laurie) to write a psalm ‘as good as gods’ without realising he then had to judge the work of god and that might be a ‘sin’.

    I remember that well. Quite why he thought the drivel in the Koran was anything special and needed a god to write it was beyond me though. Pretty much any decent literature acknowledged without dispute to be written by man is already way better than the supposedly god inspired nonsense in the bible or similar. Shakespeare, Bronte, Dickens, Tolstoy – no god needed anywhere.

  195. Avi Goldstein #202
    May 28, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    The reason for my skepticism is as because if one disproves the proof, then there goes the faith!

    It is the irrational nature of “faith-thinking” to persist with unevidenced beliefs in the face of refuting evidence!

    However, faith based on belief is not weaker because of the lack of proof.

    Strong “faith beliefs”, are impervious to evidence and reason!
    That is why the erroneous ones are so damaging when applied to the real world, or when people with opposing “faith-beliefs to die for” come into conflict!

    I would give the following example (though I do have to think through this example to make sure it actually lines up logically).
    If one sees a ball, one will assume that the ball is fully round, even though one cannot possibly see the entire ball. One can never see more than half a ball.

    Actually this example, simply illustrates a lack of investigative technique.

    Scientists would have no difficulty in:-

    a) Observing the ball rolling – exposing the hidden areas over time.

    b) Placing a mirror or camera behind it to observe the reverse side.

    c) Using Xrays or something similar, to make the material semi-transparent so a 3D image could be observed!

    My faith in God is as strong, actually stronger, than my faith that the ball is round.

    If a ball being round (spherical) is important – say as with ball bearings in some aircraft component, the use of “faith” rather than empirical testing, is a method of featuring in accident investigation reports.

    For if I were asked to give up my life for my faith, I (hope I) would; I would not do the same for the ball.

    Giving up your life for refusing to admit and correct a ritual behaviour error, is foolish.
    Giving up your life for relying on “faith” and refusing to do objective empirical checks on essential equipment is also foolish!

  196. Alan4discussion #214
    May 29, 2017 at 8:48 am

    As I suggested earlier, this thread strongly supports the view of igtheism for the benefit of the numerous readers which the “likes” suggest are following it.

    Well precious few “likes – it’s rare for a post in here to ever get more than 4 or 5. How many are just watching is unknown of course. If this site had even the most basic off-the-shelf forum software we could see the number of views and other stats but hey, I’ve made my point on that before. You might be flogging this dead horse for no more than a dozen or so regulars. Meanwhile Avi can keep chucking out stupid questions like the one about eyes evolving until the cows come home but only if you keep feeding him. You already know he can’t answer anything himself other than by “it’s indisputable”, “we know in our gut”, “it’s obvious to those of us who are clever enough” blah blah blah.

    Still, I applaud your patience even if I can’t see much point to it.

  197. Arkrid Sandwich #217
    May 29, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Well precious few “likes – it’s rare for a post in here to ever get more than 4 or 5.

    i think if we look at the first dozen posts that suggests more! – at least at first!

  198. phil rimmer #213
    May 29, 2017 at 8:45 am

    If you could argue with religious people there would be no religious people.

    Arkrid, for me it is the moral poverty of moral dirigisme
    rather than the simple wrongness of understanding the universe
    that is an affront to my sensibilities.

    There are investigations into the pseudo-morality of unshakable faith-beliefs to die for or kill for!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40047033

    A project aiming to “scientifically understand the mindset of terrorists” has published insights that the scientists say could have implications for terror prevention.

    Researchers worked with a group of 66 incarcerated ex-combatants from a paramilitary terrorist group in Colombia, a country with one of the greatest insurgency rates in the world.

    This unique experiment revealed what the team described as an “abnormal pattern of moral judgment” in terrorists.

    The scientists say a psychological “score” based on this could be an accurate way to discriminate between the mindset of a terrorist and that of a non-criminal.

    The researchers, based in Argentina, the US, Colombia and Chile, published their findings in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

    Agustín Ibanez and Adolfo García, from Favaloro University in Buenos Aires, who were part of the international research team, told BBC News they had spent four years working with Colombian law enforcers to secure permission to work with this large group of dangerous, incarcerated terrorists.

    The study participants were former members of right-wing paramilitary groups, all of whom had been convicted of murder.

    Many had been involved in massacres with hundreds of victims.

    They took part in a series of psychological tests, including an assessment of moral cognition.

    This involved presenting the subjects with a series of scenarios in which characters either deliberately or accidentally caused harm to others.

    Each subject was then asked to rate the scenario on a scale from totally forbidden (1) to totally permissible (7).

    Dr Ibanez said: “The typical response is that attempted harm should be more objected to than accidental harm. [But] the pattern in terrorists was the opposite.”

    The pattern this research revealed was that “extreme terrorists judge other people’s actions by focusing on the outcomes of an action rather than its underlying intentions.

    “This is the first study to demonstrate this psychological trait, [and it suggests that] a terrorist’s moral code actually approves of any action if it contributes to achieving a given aim.”

    Promoting dogmatic, preconceived aims, seems to be a key feature!

  199. Avi Goldstein #202
    May 28, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    For if I were asked to give up my life for my faith, I (hope I) would; I would not do the same for the ball.

    I really hope you would not give up your life for your faith. How many countless lives have been destroyed by this very idea? Millions? Billions? Between religion and nationalism more humans have been destroyed than we could ever count. The extreme level of brainwashing that would be necessary to con someone into surrendering their life for the idea of a God(s) or a king or for the honor of being an American or other nationality, this is really quite a phenomenon in our history. I’m really saddened by how susceptible we are to these psychological states.

    Every fundamentalist demonstrates great pride in the idea that they would die for their God and their prophet and this is exactly what drives the violence that goes on in the Middle East every day. People dying and murdered for all sorts of very bad and false ideas. Antiquated tribal bullshit.

    It’s nothing to be proud of.

  200. It struck me very forcibly, Laurie, that the Manchester bomber was at the very core of his being, monstrously selfish.

    The prospect of salvation and the desperation for a personal heaven never results in a human life saved by you and by your own counting your own soul damned.

    Justice in our existence, deferred to some unknowable time, is the cleverest trick of all time.

  201. Avi
    re comment #205

    “I wish to clarify my comment that my belief in God is a belief and is not based on proofs. It seems this was taken as some sort of admission that my belief is not solidly grounded. Absolutely not the case! All I meant to say was that I don’t believe because I have proof. Further, I tend to frown upon those believers whose faith is, according to them, rooted in a proof of God’s existence.
    The reason for my skepticism is as because if one disproves the proof, then there goes the faith!”

    –Avi

    Your belief is “solidly grounded” in belief, just the way racism is “solidly grounded” in prejudice, or the way belief in astrology is “solidly grounded” in belief, or the way a child’s belief in Santa is “solidly grounded” in belief. To say that you have a belief that is solidly grounded in belief is saying nothing more than that you have a belief!. Do you see what I am saying? Is it penetrating?

    “Further, I tend to frown upon those believers whose faith is, according to them, rooted in a proof of God’s existence. The reason for my skepticism is as because if one disproves the proof, then there goes the faith! However, faith based on belief is not weaker because of the lack of proof. “ –Avi

    Faith based on belief is not weaker; but the degree of strength of your feelings or convictions doesn’t make them more true or more worthy of respect. I said this already but you won’t listen.

    I also would add, again, that proving the existence of god would (also) destroy faith.

    You’re arguments are illogical. The point about doubting a ball’s spherical shape as seen from a distance is manipulative, and conflates the element of relative uncertainty in relation to the shape of a sensible objects with the uncertainty associated with something that has no physical existence at all. To say that everything can be doubted is all well and good; but there is no logical justification in concluding that because everything can be doubted to some degree or another that we must then feel obliged to reduce all questions to the same, to an equal, level of uncertainty.

    You are desperately throwing out arguments designed to distract, like a drowning man who with arms flailing is trying to grab hold of something that isn’t there but will only succeed in keeping himself afloat a little while longer. Maybe long enough to convince others, looking from afar, that he is merely waving his arms in triumph. The attempt to conflate and confuse (wittingly or not) is as old as Reason itself, is the instinctive response of the intellectually dishonest. Creationists do it. Listen to William Lane Craig and others; they all do it. Listen to Trump’s surrogates; they all do it. Read Plato’s dialogues; Socrates’ agenda-ridden or dogmatic interlocutors all did it.

    (I don’t mean to offend. I am trying to help you and others.)

  202. Alan4discussion #219
    May 29, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Well precious few “likes – it’s rare for a post in here to ever get more than 4 or 5.

    i think if we look at the first dozen posts that suggests more! – at least at first!

    Well I’ll be! I hadn’t realised there were posts anywhere on this site with that many likes. It seems more people reads the religious type threads then than the political ones which I mainly contribute to.

  203. As I suggested earlier, this thread strongly supports the view of igtheism for the benefit of the numerous readers which the “likes” suggest are following it.

    Talking of igtheism – I made a comment to that effect in 2013!

    https://richarddawkins.net/2013/03/what-evidence-would-be-enough/#li-comment-100490

    I added a further comment to that discussion on the subject of definitions.

    https://richarddawkins.net/2013/03/what-evidence-would-be-enough/#li-comment-100763

  204. Dan wrote: “You are desperately throwing out arguments designed to distract, like a drowning man who with arms flailing is trying to grab hold of something that isn’t there but will only succeed in keeping himself afloat a little while longer.”

    First, please be assured I am not “offended” in any way. I chose to go into your kitchen, and i would not have done so if I could not stand the heat! As long as a debate does not descend into personal or low-level attack, and often even if it does, I try to maintain the high ground. This will not prevent me, however, from referring to counter-arguments as silly or nonsense, if so deserved.
    As for your comment, Dan, I am not “desperately” doing anything. My arguments are rock-solid and pretty much indisputable on logical grounds. No one in this forum has succeeded in demonstrating any logic that favors atheism. Quite the contrary, and that is because logic rejects atheism. By contrast, I can and have demonstrated that belief in God (in general, leaving out the Jewish specifics for the moment) is the only way to understand how the universe came into existence. There is no other answer except that a power beyond human comprehension created the universe.
    Any other answer falls to the ultimate question: How was the universe created without a creator? Science CANNOT answer this question.
    As someone said earlier, checkmate.

  205. And now that you, ahem, have “explained” how the eye evolved, why did two eyes evolve? There is absolutely no reason for two; one suffices. Sure, you can’t see depth, but didn’t creatures live for eons without this added functionality?
    And if indeed two eyes were a “survival” advantage, how did they manage to develop so that they are symmetrical, thereby producing the desired depth sight? Quite a coincidence, no?
    What is truly sad is how desperate you guys are to dodge the obvious: a Creator, omnipresent and omniscient, created our universe. The mechanics of how He went about this are not relevant; but any rational person can see, if only he/she is willing, that God created our universe.

  206. Olgun said:
    Did the Torah mention these less advanced humans and if not why not?
    And why less advanced humans in the first place. Was he having trouble with the design?

    The Torah is not a history or science book, Olgun. It teaches the Why of Creation, not the How.

  207. I should note that I simply can’t respond to every comment, I do have prayer, study, work and other things like guitar playing to do! But I do try to read most of the comments.
    Some are just so silly, such as the one that states that the eye evolved at least seven different ways. A fundament of science is that things must be observable and/or probable. You have no idea if eyes evolved or were created. And you certainly have no idea if there were different evolutions of the eye, because it is all guesswork on your part! Your straining to disbelieve is mindboggling.

  208. Avi Goldstein #230
    May 30, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Alan, if indeed eyes “evolved” as you say, we can only marvel at God’s wondrous ways. But without Him, it did not happen.

    Modern science explains how these processes happen using mathematical calculations and the laws of physics.

    “The magic god” who evolved from the polytheistic Canaanite gods (El, Asherah, Yahweh, Jehovah,) in a little patch of the Earth in the Middle East, created the universe billions of years earlier before those cultures existed, and several billion years later created the Sun, Moon, and Earth in the wrong order! Then further millions of years later created man and other forms of life in the wrong sequence, – and then created THE eye in its complete form:- – is a story which has zero credibility – even if the indoctrinated god-delusion in your head tells you it is so, and edits out conflicting information!

    Avi Goldstein #233 – Some are just so silly, such as the one that states that the eye evolved at least seven different ways.

    You seem to be totally ignorant of the biological structures of shellfish eyes, spider eyes, insect eyes, jelly-fish eyes etc!

    Avi Goldstein #231
    May 30, 2017 at 12:30 am

    And now that you, ahem, have “explained” how the eye evolved, why did two eyes evolve?

    Two eyes evolved in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals for the same reason that some spiders evolved with 0 eyes, 2 eyes, 4 eyes, 6 eyes, or 8 eyes. The arrangement of eyes aid survival of the species in the life style it pursues. Giant Clams Have Hundreds Of Eyes, And They’re Always Watching You

    There is absolutely no reason for two; one suffices.

    You really do persist with these irrational claims:
    “I am uneducated and ignorant of the biology/physics/astronomy, which explains how this works, and can’t see any reason for it working” THEREFORE “There IS no reason because I can’t see one!”

    Sure, you can’t see depth,

    A lioness can judge distance and depth with two focussing eyes, and will misjudge the distance to prey – and consequently starve, with only one. She also has two eyes at the front of her head to work as binocular vision with depth.
    Herbivores on the other hand have eyes on the sides of their heads to give less binocular focus but 360° all-round vision to see what is creeping up behind them.
    There are small random changes which mean that those with eyes best placed to support their life style survive and reproduce, while the less competitive die. There is a selection process of a brutal arms race between predators and prey!

    but didn’t creatures live for eons without this added functionality?

    The clams still do!

    And if indeed two eyes were a “survival” advantage, how did they manage to develop so that they are symmetrical, thereby producing the desired depth sight? Quite a coincidence, no?

    No! Natural selection is by the survival and reproduction of the best adapted of each generation. Bilateral symmetry of body form, evolved very early in multicellular evolution.

    What is truly sad is how desperate you guys are to dodge the obvious: a Creator, omnipresent and omniscient, created our universe.

    It is indeed sad when learning about the wonder of the universe is blocked by indoctrinated fixed ideas which are not open to inputs of objective hard won information. Religions produce diverse conflicting information and asserted ignorance, because faith thinking has no mechanism for correcting errors and up-dating views.

    The mechanics of how He went about this are not relevant;

    The mechanical of the laws of science are highly relevant.
    The absence of any credible mechanisms provided by the proponents of the anthropomorphic “magic-fairy-daddy-ran-around-fiddling-with-it-to-make-it-happen-because-I don’t-know-how-anything-works, leave such proponents trying to stick rationality badges on to vacuous arguments!

    but any rational person can see, if only he/she is willing, that God created our universe.

    In reality those who use rationality to explain objective studies of nature, can recognise the circular empty assertions glorifying those imaginary god-delusions which provide the anthropomorphic pseudo-knowledge substitutes and the false confidence, covering up profound ignorance of the features of reality.

    Not only do atheists not share these pseudo-knowledge god-delusions, but those from thousands of other separate religions with different god-delusions, don’t share them either! The origins in uncritical acceptance by “faith” from indoctrination, are obvious to those taking overviews of the various religions.

  209. Avi Goldstein #233
    May 30, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Some are just so silly, such as the one that states that the eye evolved at least seven different ways. A fundament of science is that things must be observable and/or probable.

    Given that the diverse types of eye are illustrated and explained in detail from careful observations, in biology reference and text books, this denial of reality is laughable!

    You have no idea if eyes evolved or were created.

    But many biologists do and know its evolution step by step in its differing forms.

    And you certainly have no idea if there were different evolutions of the eye, because it is all guesswork on your part!

    Err no! I have previously explained, that just because you use thinking from simplistic preconceptions and guess work, that does not mean everyone else does!

    Study of the links I have provided, would help to remedy your ignorance of biology and astronomy.

    and other things like guitar playing to do!

    Good idea – I need to get my 12 string ready for a performance later.

  210. There is a hell of a lot of backtracking and arse covering going on. 😉

    guitar playing

    Knew a one armed guitar player once. He didn’t get very far. Could only play one cord. 😉

  211. Olgun #237
    May 30, 2017 at 6:37 am

    These guys look like they are praying but are actually banging their heads against the wall at Avis writing.

    @ – link Letter of invitation to the formation – December 17, 1947 –
    Publications -(not all currently active)

    (Last listed) – Past-presidents –
    1990-1993 Neil Maron, Ph.D.

    1993– Allen J. Bennett, M.D., F.A.C.P.

    It looks like the organisation seeking compatibility of the incompatible, fossilised in the 1990s!

  212. Olgun #238

    It is a nice simple explanation of the progression from simple eye-spots to a complex mammal or octopus type eye, which is similar to one on one of my more detailed and diverse links earlier.

    You have to love the naivety of the expectation of convincing biologists with a, “It can’t happen because I haven’t looked at the textbooks”, argument!

  213. Alan said: Two eyes evolved in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals for the same reason that some spiders evolved with 0 eyes, 2 eyes, 4 eyes, 6 eyes, or 8 eyes. The arrangement of eyes aid survival of the species in the life style it pursues.

    So let’s see. One day Spidey suddenly gets a second eye. Oh, he says to himself, this is cool. I get to see in stereo and survive better. The other spiders knew they were in trouble and realized they, too, needed a second eye, else it was curtains! And you consider yourselves logical?
    Um, NOT!

  214. So really, it has been a blast, but let’s sum up and move on.
    All this started because a disenchanted woman decided to right a misguided article about Orthodox Judaism. I proceeded to set the record straight (a disgruntled individual does not get to set the tone)!
    Somehow this precipitated a broader discussion, and based on the evidence I presented, none of which has been successfully rebutted, we arrived at the following conclusions:
    1. Faith is important, but given the overwhelming evidence of God’s existence, and the illogicity of believing in a self-created universe, non-believers should rethink their non-belief.
    2. God is good, people are not always good, and religious thinking gets misused and distorted (a fully agree with this sentiment).
    3. It does not matter if God created the universe in six days or sixteen billion years (or created it in six days and made it appear as a 16-billion-year-old universe). What matters is the why, not the how.
    4. Without religion, morality is relative. You cannot just “decide” or “collaboratively figure out” what is moral. Without an outside source giving us the guidelines, anything goes.
    5. No one has answered the question concerning euthanasia, to wit: If humans can decide what is good, and if humans decide killing off old folks is good for society, then why not do it?
    7. And for good measure, let me throw in one more: societies that give immmoral sexual behavior the imprimatur of law (such as same-sex marriage) do not have a history of surviving in the long run. We should not go into people’s bedrooms, but we must take a stance regarding morality.
    6. You all are still welcome in my home if you are ever in Far Rockaway!

  215. I said I wouldn’t get too involved in this silliness but I might take the opportunity to write a bit about the Dunning-Kruger effect which Avi is demonstrating splendidly. It might help people to understand the thread. From Wikipedia to save me devising an explanation from scratch:

    In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias, wherein persons of low ability suffer from illusory superiority when they mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

    and then about metacognition:

    Metacognition is “cognition about cognition”, “thinking about thinking”,”knowing about knowing”, becoming “aware of one’s awareness” and higher-order thinking skills. The term comes from the root word meta, meaning “beyond”. Metacognition can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem-solving. There are generally two components of metacognition: knowledge about cognition, and regulation of cognition.

    We are seeing two things in this thread. 1) The destructive nature of faith based brainwashing and how it can destroy a person’s ability to use logic in other fields because that way of reasoning is either now no longer present or at best badly diminished in the brain. 2) The Dunning-Kruger effect leading to an overestimation of ones own badly diminished reasoning skills.

    Rational thinking is something we all like to believe we possess but it is actually a skill like any other and requires an honesty in ones own self appraisal that few people really have. Learned biases plus the dislike most people have of admitting mistakes leads to them tending to just “double down” when uncomfortable facts are presented rather than honestly wondering if they might be wrong and re-evaluating. We see it in Donald Trump all the time. We see it in spades in Avi’s replies. It is not unusual for faith based thinkers to grudgingly admit their faith is based on something with no proof but it’s unusual, to me at least, to see someone trying to maintain that proof would be a bad thing (if it generated the undesired result of course) and faith without proof is actually better. That’s just barking mad.

    So these two factors are what is resulting in a person being able to say stuff like (without scrolling through tons of crap to find the verbatim quotes) “It’s not a level playing field in here”, “I’m the only one in here able to reason logically”, “You haven’t studied all the stuff I have”, “Jewish thinkers are the greatest in the world”, “So two eyes evolved without a god?”, “I have no proof or evidence but it’s just indisputable”, “it is you, not we, that are the intolerant ones”.

    Something I have heard many times over the years about religion is “well if it’s not hurting anyone else then why not just let us get on with it?”. Except of course the assumption that it’s not hurting anyone else is badly wrong. Even if we don’t take into account the seriously bad things like religious wars, witch hunts, suicide bombers, AIDS spreading because condoms are banned, we are still left with faith based indoctrination producing people who can’t think or reason logically and hence can’t make sensible decisions about things which affect either themselves or other people. It’s partly why the Republican party is in such a mess in the USA and so damaging to that country and the world now they are in power. If you can believe in invisible sky pixies then you can’t be trusted to make decisions for other people. If you are in doubt then ask yourself as you read through this thread, who would you prefer to have making a life or death decision for you, Avi or Alan4D? Or in fact anyone else other than Avi. I think you’ll come to the right conclusion.

  216. Avi

    “One day”?

    “Suddenly”?

    “Realized”?

    In all seriousness, where have you got your information about evolution from? Your comments suggest you haven’t understood even the most rudimentary basics. (Either that, or you really are just trolling, but I hope you don’t disrespect us that much.)

    None of us can know everything, but you’ve come to a website bearing the name of one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, belonging to a foundation dedicated to the promotion of reason and science, and you’re arguing from a position of – it seems – absolutely no knowledge of the subject matter whatsoever.

    I really wish you’d read either The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins, or if you’d prefer to avoid Dawkins, Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne, or Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. All are highly accessible, very thorough, and very well written. They all give a clear overview of how evolution works, and of the evidence for it, and you don’t need a science degree to understand them.

    Sadly, I doubt very much you’ll do that. Would you be willing to look at some reputable online information? The University of California, Berkeley, resources are highly regarded – http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01 – and if you read them and make an honest attempt to understand them and still have questions afterwards, I am sure some of the highly knowledgeable people here would be happy to help.

    But you need to approach it – and us – honestly, Avi. At the moment you’re just wasting everyone’s time and, whether you realise it or not, making yourself look very silly. Like someone on an aeronautical website jumping up and down and insisting that aircraft can’t fly.

    My hope would be that you would at least inform yourself about the basics, from a reputable scientific source, before posting on the subject again. If you do, you’ll see why I’m suggesting it, and also that it’s with a view to sparing your blushes as well as our time and effort.

  217. Avi Goldstein #243
    May 30, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Alan said:

    Two eyes evolved in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals for the same reason that some spiders evolved with 0 eyes, 2 eyes, 4 eyes, 6 eyes, or 8 eyes. The arrangement of eyes aid survival of the species in the life style it pursues.

    So let’s see.
    One day Spider suddenly gets a second eye.
    Oh, he says to himself, this is cool.
    I get to see in stereo and survive better.
    The other spiders knew they were in trouble
    and realized they, too, needed a second eye, else it was curtains!

    I take it you have learned Nothing from the links I provided to biological reference materials, which showed light sensitive cells scattered over the body or primitive creatures , gradually becoming specialised in functional locations and becoming more complex over time!!

    I see Olgun has provided another series of diagrams, linked @ #238 which explain the evolutionary development process in mammal eyes.

    And you consider yourselves logical? – Um, NOT!

    . . . and you learned nothing from the link describing the process of rational deduction and induction by using the process of logic?

    Two eyes evolved in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals AFTER the Chordate and Vertebrate evolutionary trees branched when their common ancestor which already had two eyes, millions of years ago!

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17453-timeline-the-evolution-of-life/

    Timeline: The evolution of life

    1.5 billion years ago?

    The eukaryotes divide into three groups: the ancestors of modern plants, fungi and animals split into separate lineages, and evolve separately. We do not know in what order the three groups broke with each other. At this time they were probably all still single-celled organisms.

    900 million years ago?

    The first multicellular life develops around this time.

    630 million years ago

    Around this time, some animals evolve bilateral symmetry for the first time: that is, they now have a defined top and bottom, as well as a front and back.

    590 million years ago

    The Bilateria, those animals with bilateral symmetry, undergo a profound evolutionary split. They divide into the protostomes and deuterostomes.

    The deuterostomes eventually include all the vertebrates plus an outlier group called the Ambulacraria. The protostomes become all the arthropods (insects, spiders, crabs, shrimp and so forth), various types of worm, and the microscopic rotifers.

    540 million years ago

    As the first chordates – animals that have a backbone, or at least a primitive version of it – emerge among the deuterostomes,

    530 million years ago

    The first true vertebrate – an animal with a backbone – appears. It probably evolves from a jawless fish that has a notochord, a stiff rod of cartilage, instead of a true backbone. The first vertebrate is probably quite like a lamprey, hagfish or lancelet.

    500 million years ago

    Fossil evidence shows that animals were exploring the land at this time. The first animals to do so were probably euthycarcinoids – thought to be the missing link between insects and crustaceans.

    465 million years ago

    Plants begin colonising the land.

    60 million years ago

    Fish split into two major groups: the bony fish and cartilaginous fish. The cartilaginous fish, as the name implies, have skeletons made of cartilage rather than the harder bone. They eventually include all the sharks, skates and rays.

    440 million years ago

    The bony fish split into their two major groups: the lobe-finned fish with bones in their fleshy fins, and the ray-finned fish. The lobe-finned fish eventually give rise to amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The ray-finned fish thrive, and give rise to most fish species living today.

    The common ancestor of lobe-finned and ray-finned fish probably has simple sacs that function as primitive lungs, allowing it to gulp air when oxygen levels in the water fall too low. In ray-finned fish, these sacs evolve into the swim bladder, which is used for controlling buoyancy.

    417 million years ago

    Lungfish, another legendary living fossil, follow the coelacanth by splitting from the other lobe-finned fish. Although they are unambiguously fish, complete with gills, lungfish have a pair of relatively sophisticated lungs, which are divided into numerous smaller air sacs to increase their surface area. These allow them to breathe out of water and thus to survive when the ponds they live in dry out.

    400 million years ago

    The oldest known insect lives around this time. Some plants evolve woody stems.

    397 million years ago

    The first four-legged animals, or tetrapods, evolve from intermediate species such as Tiktaalik, probably in shallow freshwater habitats.

    The tetrapods go on to conquer the land, and give rise to all amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

    375 million years ago

    Tiktaalik, an intermediate between fish and four-legged land animals, lives around this time. The fleshy fins of its lungfish ancestors are evolving into limbs.

    340 million years ago

    The first major split occurs in the tetrapods, with the amphibians branching off from the others.

    310 million years ago

    Within the remaining tetrapods, the sauropsids and synapsids split from one another. The sauropsids include all the modern reptiles, plus the dinosaurs and birds. The first synapsids are also reptiles, but have distinctive jaws. They are sometimes called “mammal-like reptiles”, and eventually evolve into the mammals.

    Perhaps this science article can help with your education.

    The dates are approximate but are supported by multiple scientific measuring techniques.

  218. Avi Goldstein #244
    May 30, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Somehow this precipitated a broader discussion, and based on the evidence I presented, none of which has been successfully rebutted,

    You haven’t presented any EVIDENCE. You have merely asserted that your assertions ARE evidence – which they are not! Wishing there is evidence does not make any materialise!

    we arrived at the following conclusions:

    No! – You arrived back at your own preconceptions, without involving any logical deductive processes – suggesting you do not know what logical conclusions are.

    1. Faith is important, but given the overwhelming evidence of God’s existence, and the illogicity of believing in a self-created universe, non-believers should rethink their non-belief.

    Perhaps you should work on your education and your own non-belief in established facts!

    “Faith” is a flawed mode of thinking which uncritically accepts information errors and doggedly defends them against objective evidence.
    Given that there is no evidence whatever of any particular god-claim having material support, and the contradictions of the huge range of differing god-claims, the only rational conclusion is that they are images implanted in believers’ brains.

    2. God is good, people are not always good, and religious thinking gets misused and distorted (a fully agree with this sentiment).

    God is “good” according to the dogmas dictated by the believer’s god-delusion defining what is “good”! – Hence the argument is circular and internal to the biases of believer.

    3. It does not matter if God created the universe in six days or sixteen billion years (or created it in six days and made it appear as a 16-billion-year-old universe). What matters is the why, not the how.

    There is no “WHY?” – All “why” questions lead to “how” answers, and eventually to the honest answer of: “We do not know beyond this point”, or the theistic pretend pseudo-knowledge, gap-filler covering ignorance, of “god-did-it so I really know the answer”!

    4. Without religion, morality is relative. You cannot just “decide” or “collaboratively figure out” what is moral. Without an outside source giving us the guidelines, anything goes.

    Without religion people have to work out their own codes of conduct. With religion, they copy made-up ancient ones, which have usually been fudged over the years, and then pretend they come from some superior indisputable source.

    5. No one has answered the question concerning euthanasia, to wit: If humans can decide what is good, and if humans decide killing off old folks is good for society, then why not do it?

    No one has asked that question, but I would certainly wish to have the option of euthanasia available to myself if I had some terminal degenerative condition which caused unnecessary suffering with no prospect of recovery.

    7. And for good measure, let me throw in one more: societies that give immmoral sexual behavior the imprimatur of law (such as same-sex marriage) do not have a history of surviving in the long run.

    Really? 600 years is quite a long time in human history!
    I seem to recall from those history text-books things that homosexuality known as pederasty was common among the Ancient Greeks!
    The civilization of Ancient Greece emerged into the light of world history in the 8th century BC. Normally it is regarded as coming to an end when Greece fell to the Romans, in 146 BC. However, major Greek (or “Hellenistic”, as modern scholars call them) kingdoms lasted longer than this.

    We should not go into people’s bedrooms, but we must take a stance regarding morality.

    Ah back to that religious monopoly claim to “morality” – complete with persistent busy-body interference in other people’s sex lives which you earlier denied – despite belonging to a sect where dogma decides how much skin males have on their penises and when couples can have sex on the basis of women taking vaginal discharges to religious leaders!

    You really don’t see just how perverted this looks to people outside the delusional indoctrination bubble?

  219. Avi Goldstein #244
    May 30, 2017 at 9:17 am

    And for good measure, let me throw in one more: societies that give immmoral sexual behavior the imprimatur of law (such as same-sex marriage) do not have a history of surviving in the long run. We should not go into people’s bedrooms, but we must take a stance regarding morality.

    In this day and age, in the West, the statement that defines what is moral regarding sexual behavior is this; what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults is their own business.

    Puritanical individuals and cultures operate under severe constraints that are explained and enforced by their religious ideology, clergy members and congregations. It’s strange to observe this situation from the outside looking in because what the secular bunch observes is that there is a impressive facade of purity presented but then behind the scenes, there are any number of people in the puritanical community that are sneaking around and engaging in the various sexual behavior that they want and need. The cruelty that the pious inflict on these “perverts” is so sad and selfish. Years of lying and sneaking and living with the fear of discovery ends up warping their self esteem and their sense of self-worth and all because the puritans feel uncomfortable with the idea that there are other humans out there in the world who want more in bed than a missionary position thirty seconds long fuck with the same person night after night for their entire boring lives.

    What is obvious to anyone who is capable of understanding very basic history is this; in the long arc of human history we have moved far toward acceptance of the right of our citizens to participate in sexual behavior that includes gay sex, multiple partner sex, and any other behavior that is between consenting adults.

    If a society has collapsed I really find it hard to believe that it was the sexual behavior of their citizens that brought it down – but that’s how fundamentalists always frame it; God hates perverts so he will obliterate your whole society if you veer off the sexually pure path. The reasons for the collapse of societies has been discussed in an interesting book by Jared Diamond titled Collapse and although I read it years ago I’m very sure that perverted sexual behavior was never mentioned as a factor in the collapse of any society.

    I hesitate to recommend books to you Avi because I see no evidence in this whole thread of your having read even the most elementary books on a number of topics. Even a Wiki page would help at this point. You are so entrenched and thoroughly invested in your fierce defense of your favorite fairy tale that I don’t believe you will ever spend a single dollar or invest a single minute in the investigation of the most utterly fascinating topics that we discuss on this site every day. Even so, if you want to start from scratch then ask honestly for book recommendations and they will be forthcoming.

    I agree that “we should not go into people’s bedrooms” but what do think you’re doing when you deliver your wife’s dirty panties to the rabbi for inspection? There’s a third person in your bed with you giving their input while you claim that you are are a couple that manages your sex life in private between the two of you. Now, unless you and your wife acknowledge that you are both aroused by the fact that someone outside of the relationship is touching and (can’t help but) smelling the dirty panties…both of these things canNOT be true at the same time!
    I absolutely dismiss the claim (somewhere above) that there is no sexual arousal by the person handling those panties. Sniffing panties is a thing. I believe this behavior has deep evolutionary roots in many animals (including human animals). Trying to pass off this behavior as a simple ritual on the level of – let’s make sure we have the forks straight on our table for the ritual meal, make sure we have the right candles and flowers just so, and did we check the ladie’s panties to see what they look like, just in case? Holy crap.

    There is material to read on this topic that is easy to find and by material I mean scholarly analysis and I don’t know for sure but I’m willing to bet there’s no end of porn out there with the same behavior going on that is presented as Godly and purity based by the Orthodox Jews. Give me a break. eye roll. I’m willing to produce the scholarly references but I’ll leave the other side of it to you.

    but we must take a stance regarding morality.

    Oh yes, I couldn’t agree more! But the stance that anyone ought to take is to protect minors from predatory adults and to protect adults who don’t consent to the sexual advances of others, to protect the LGBT community from persecution of all types, to provide birth control and abortion to anyone who requests it, to end genital mutilation in males and females, end child marriage and to let our children know that they will always be loved unconditionally no matter if they fall in love with someone of another race, religion or someone of the same sex.

    The haughty selfishness of trying to morph others into their own narrow view of proper sexual behavior is what is actually immoral. People are doing what they want to do, they’re just lying right to your face about what’s actually happening. This is the very thing that is “not surviving in the long run.”

  220. Re Comment 229

    “… I can and have demonstrated that belief in God (in general, leaving out the Jewish specifics for the moment) is the only way to understand how the universe came into existence. There is no other answer except that a power beyond human comprehension created the universe.” –Avi Goldstein

    You have proven nothing, demonstrated nothing at all.

    I have, to be honest, been inclined to argue that physical causes may not be able to explain (to me) how existence has come into being; nor can I understand how Time and Space can be neither finite nor infinite: these are among the great questions that philosophers and scientists have grappled with throughout the ages. But only a dogmatist would fill in that gap with a deity, that is, insist that what is incomprehensible can only be explained by an intelligent God, as opposed to having the good sense to just let it remain incomprehensible. (And many things throughout Mankind’s past were regarded as inexplicable and were assumed to be controlled by gods; that was just superstition and ignorance, as we now can explain this things.)

    I certainly don’t know what was before the Big Bang or how “it all started” or whether this can ever be explained. Nor am I even sure what would constitute a satisfactory explanation. But that is not the same thing as implying that what cannot be made comprehensible to my own personal satisfaction must be a God or Gods. Why do you jump from simply wondering how it all started to a place where you feel comfortable attributing so many qualities to this unknowable entity? I stop with “I don’t know”; you dogmatically go a step further and say that this dubious entity is Wise and Loving, and Punishing, and Good, and Creative and Powerful, something worthy of worship and which has created moral laws that you must remain obedient to; yet you know nothing about it. NOTHING!

    “My arguments are rock-solid and pretty much indisputable on logical grounds. No one in this forum has succeeded in demonstrating any logic that favors atheism. Quite the contrary…” Avi

    I already said that attempting to prove the non-exietence of a God or anything else that has no physical existence, would be the height of illogic or even madness. Of I asked you to prove that the little green man in the center of the room that no one sees because it isn’t there doesn’t exist, all one could do is say: I see no evidence that it exists. For the third time: are you capable of comprehending that?

    You God is the author of morality and an intelligent Being. How can a Being without a brain be intelligent? Why can’t you just say that there is a mystery that hasn’t yet or may never be explained? Moreover, the question of creating what we now call a “universe” raises a deeper question: what does it mean to say that something IS as opposed to IS NOT? What constitutes existence? Why are we talking about the universe? And as many children are inclined to ask, what was before God? To say that it has always been is as incomprehensible as saying that the universe created itself out of nothing – and that was your point of departure.

    You have solved nothing, said nothing, explained nothing, demonstrated nothing but your own stubbiness and arrogance.

  221. Cont.

    The only thing of substance that you have said in all of your comments is that you see no other explanation for the creation of the universe but “a power that defies human comprehension.” But if that power defies human comprehension why do you assume that it is good or fit to worship and that it is a lawgiver and that we all get our morals from it? Do you see the illogic, the presumptive arrogance of your position?

    If one sees a ball, one will assume that the ball is fully round, even though one cannot possibly see the entire ball. One can never see more than half a ball. [In the same way I have faith in God.]. My faith in God is as strong, actually stronger, than my faith that the ball is round.

    One additional comment on this piece of tomfoolery: we do not have faith that the ball is round; we assume our perception is not a deception or an illusion; we assume it is round, based on knowledge and experience. If you hold the ball in your hand you can still doubt its shape, its very existence even; and we can doubt that a hammer will fall to the earth if we drop it; but we must not create our own reality and blur the distinction between what are imaginary qualities with what are real and tangible. To do so would be the act of a person creating art (fiction, poetry); short of that, the act of a person completely devoid of reason (i.e., insane) and/or dismissive of the dictates of reason (a fanatic or dogmatist).

    To imply that everything is equally improbable or equally probably because everything is capable of being doubted, is self-serving, self-deceptive, and manipulative – and it is no basis for an argument of the legitimacy of one’s superstitions, faith, or whatever one chooses to call it.

  222. Concluding points

    (note: I’ve been using someone else’s computer. The keypad is worn out; I can’t see half the letters; hence all the typos.)

    let me throw in one more: societies that give immmoral sexual behavior the imprimatur of law (such as same-sex marriage) do not have a history of surviving in the long run. We should not go into people’s bedrooms, but we must take a stance regarding morality.

    You seem intimately acquainted with the various viewpoints (regarding such things as homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and contraception, and things pertaining to women’s bodies) of this immaterial, incorporeal (yet masculine) power of yours that created the universe and is beyond human comprehension. And those views (for what else can they be) of this (masculine) power are known to you how? You are a bigot. It is about time someone called you out as such. And this sort of thing, this flimsy, fluffy nonsense can never endure. No lie can live forever.

    My opinion of all religions is at an all-time low, and I thank you for your unwitting service.

  223. Dan #250 – May 30, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Re Comment 229

    You have solved nothing, said nothing, explained nothing, demonstrated nothing but your own stubbornness and arrogance.

    So, to sum up:-

    I think this discussion clearly illustrates the illusion of knowledge and delusion of capability derived the flawed thought processes of “faith” which disable learning in their followers.
    Enclosed religious communities misdirect children into looking into ancient misconceptions, rather than reputable sources of scientific and historical documents, and so promote fallacious thinking to prop up silly memes and long refuted myths.
    This creates problems for others when they come to have to take the responsibilities of citizenship and moral or political decisions in the real world!

    Avi Goldstein #153 – May 26, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Unfortunately, we are not on an even playing field.
    I have studied sciences and philosophy;
    I doubt any of you has studied Judaism in depth.
    I can speak and argue meaningfully because I understand both sides, while you don’t.

    Avi actually believes he has studied science and philosophy, and it is other posters who “don’t understand”!!!
    His arguments show that his god-delusion assures him it is so!
    In an enclosed community with its own schooling, he may well have been on courses purporting to provide education in those subjects!

    Epic fails in biology, astronomy, physics, history and logic, indicate otherwise, with psychological projection of a thought process of preconceptions combined with wild unevidenced guessing, and Dunning-Kruger false-confidence strongly represented.

    Avi Goldstein #147 – May 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm
    .
    You are so full of yourselves!
    And you are afraid to engage in meaningful debate.

    It is clear that numerous very informative posts and links sail right on by, without being taken on board or making any connection to Avi’s internal circular arguments.

    Avi Goldstein #243 – May 30, 2017 at 8:48 am

    So let’s see. One day Spidey suddenly gets a second eye.
    Oh, he says to himself, this is cool.
    I get to see in stereo and survive better. . . . . .

    This is a children’s fairytale level of biological perceptions of animal life.

    Avi Goldstein #244 – May 30, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Somehow this precipitated a broader discussion,
    and based on the evidence I presented, none of which has been successfully rebutted,
    we arrived at the following conclusions:

    Total logic fail! No evidence or reasoned argument has been presented which might lead to logical conclusions! The supposed “conclusions” are merely asserted preconceptions.

    Avi Goldstein #202 – May 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Even if one were to grant that somehow the universe came into being on its own (a totally illogical, unreasonable notion),
    one still cannot explain how the universe subsequently ordered itself into galaxies, then spawned organic matter,

    Mmmm… Star formation – supernova – nuclear fusion producing heavy elements found in organic molecules – galaxy evolution – accretion disks – planet formation – I think the evidence can be found by those who look!

    https://richarddawkins.net/2017/05/ravenous-supermassive-black-holes-may-sterilize-nearby-planets/

    Avi Goldstein #153 – May 26, 2017 at 9:30 am
    I have studied sciences and philosophy;
    I can speak and argue meaningfully because I understand.

    I will let readers be the judge of that! 🙂

    Anyway, I will wait to see if Avi comes back to seriously debate and consider, any of the educational links I have provided, and to demonstrate those skills he claims to possess!

  224. Dan #117
    May 24, 2017 at 8:37 pm –
    Avi. – Yes, yes, there might be a God.
    We can’t prove that there isn’t.
    You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist.
    But the burden of proof is on you to prove that something does exist.
    Do you comprehend that?

    Ah!
    But the the energy burst of the big-bang came from the god-fairy’s ray gun, and it had the negative-proof fallacy, and gullible life-form settings, switched on at the time! 🙂

    You can’t DISPROVE that! 🙂 Check-mate! 🙂

    Oh! . . . and that god-fairy evolved in a previous universe which came from a big-bang from an energy burst from another earlier god-fairy’s ray-gun, which had the negative proof fallacy and the create god-fairy settings, switched on!

    Oh! and that earlier god-fairy came from an energy burst from a ray gun which had the “infinite regression of creators button” switched on! 🙂

  225. Alan4discussion #254

    May 31, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Avi,

    Yes, yes, there might be a God. We can’t prove that there isn’t […]

    That’s how #117 looked.

    Remark

    (Phil, I’d welcome your remarks too if you happen to read this – or anyone’s. Laurie? You there?)

    Alan, doesn’t it seem as if Schopenhauer’s insight that the intellect of a great many people is in the service of their will (or their emotions, to put it another way)? Schopenhauer maintained that most people are incapable of taking an objective interest in anything (and that is what is required in order to learn and be open to new ideas); he formulated it this way: in the case of the man or woman of intellect, they are made up of, say, two-thirds intellect and one-third will; so their will is in the service of their intellect. The dullard….or better yet, the obstinate man, is two-thirds will and one-third intellect; their intellect is in the service of their will, or passional nature. (This varies; most of the lower animals, as he called them, have no intellect at all, are pretty much all will. The will of the genius is almost entirely in the service of his will!)That is why the latter types cannot, will not, listen. Kierkegaard, a psychologist in his own right, also remarked that stubborn, stuck, frozen people – and we all encounter them, know them – are perhaps capable of understanding but will not understand. Reason is powerless against them. We all have a little of that in ourselves too, but we can change….Some, however, appear quite hopeless…. There is no softening, no opening, no room….

    Don’t you think there might be something to that? It was made very clear, I think, within the crucible, as it were, of this thread, that Reason can only speak to Reason. It cannot speak to Will. (This is made painfully clear when trying to reason with a violent person, as we all know in concreto.

    I like that formulation, that way of thinking about this problem: Reason and Will.

    (You can have a strong will too, and that can be a plus; but it must, ultimately surrender to Reason when one is doing philosophy or science. Ethics is another matter altogether, and there may be times when we cannot rely on reason and must rely on conscience, as Rousseau said. Conscience is becoming less and less popular as a concept, I fear. But that aside, we can all agree to some extent that you can’t argue with passion. There’s the rub, the challenge that all of us who have a social and political consciousness and a desire to change society for the better, have to face.)

  226. What happens if you just stop going? Will a rabbi approach you to ask where you’ve been? I wonder if they take courses on handling difficult panties presenters? You know the Christians would, gawd, can you imagine dad learning to inspect other women’s panties? –tee hee

  227. Avi Goldstein #147
    May 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    I think you give a clear explanation of where your asserted ignorance of science and reasoning and illusory superiority comes from.

    Today I attended my daughter’s graduation from Yeshiva University, which combines the highest in Jewish learning with the best in secular education. I watched old and young, rabbis and lay people, extolling the virtues of higher learning and a live grounded in God-given morality.

    Ah! That moral monopoly which is exclusively validated by an imagined stamp of approval from a specified imaginary god!

    The focus of many speakers was how to live a truly moral life,

    … By blindly following the antiquated dogma and “barometer” of Trrrooo believers, with a bit of “No True Scotsman” fallacy, thrown in!

    and at the last minute (at my behest) we inserted a moment of silence in prayer for the injured in the Manchester terrorist attack
    (an attack you cannot even denounce, since you have no barometer to judge it).

    Without a magic fairy endorsement replacing the requirements for thinking through issues and outcomes, how could secular people possibly have moral codes of conduct? 🙂

    Folks, the level of intelligence among the speakers, including the lay people, is so beyond what you exhibit that it is not funny.

    The level of grasp of logic and science demonstrated by some in this discussion certainly is” 🙂
    I think Dunning and Kruger explain those perceptions of “superior intelligence!

    Our best and brightest are studying and teaching Torah at incredibly profound levels.

    That could explain their neglect and ignorance of modern evidence based everyday knowledge.

    Because of your collective ignorance
    (this is not to fault you, ignorance is not a sin),

    Unsurprisingly, we have failed to reach your faith-based preconceived notions by using evidence and reason.

    you are unaware of just how profound and difficult Torah study is.

    I’m sure that attempting to reconcile ancient beliefs with evidenced modern information, is extremely difficult, and probably requires some pretty contorted mental gymnastics to square those triangular circles.

    The Jewish people have given the world the highest in intellectual achievements, and that is not because of any innate ability; it is because Torah study trains one to think logically and rationally.

    Or – it would seem:- teaches them to think uncritical acceptance of indoctrination IS thinking logically and rationally, as a badge of “false authority”, in the absence of intellectual logical processes.

    A (non-Jewish) college professor (boy, was that a long time ago!) once, out of the blue, asked me if I study Talmud. I was perplexed by the question, till he explained that my questions in class differed substantively from the questions posed by the other students.

    This is common when questions from uneducated creationists are asked of science educators – as your questions about science on this discussion demonstrate!

    This was a TV/Radio class, as I recall, the point being that once the mind is trained, [indoctrinated] it applies itself to any discipline.

    Yep!
    Creationists apply their deeply fixed biases to all subsequent study!
    Strongly indoctrinated belief in “god-did-it-by-mysterious-means” gives believers the Dunning-Kruger confidence to think they have the mastery of all subjects – without actual study of those subject areas!

    Our religious basis is of course faith, faith whose truth has been borne out through generations of survival in a mostly hostile world.

    The use of “faith” as a mode of thinking certainly explains the conflicts between your perceptions and reality!

    My point here, as I sum up (because I have made my point, and I think I shall declare victory and run), is not to demean science or reason.
    You all prejudged me, thinking I accepted everything I was taught without question.

    Ah! A creationist “victory”, – having been offered some of the best researched scientific information in the world, and some training in logical reasoning – you reasserted your mistaken preconceptions, learned NOTHING, and projected your thinking from preconceptions on to others!

  228. Re comment 255

    The will of the genius is almost entirely in the service of his will!

    No!! I meant to write: The will of the genius is almost entirely in the service of his intellect!

    Hate that! Typos should be abolished.

  229. Dan #258
    Jun 1, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    The will of the genius is almost entirely in the service of his intellect!

    The deeply indoctrinated love to give credit for any acclaimed success, to their god-delusions, rather than to those humans who put in the effort!

    Perhaps genius will rub off on the indoctrinated uneducated at social events if wish-thinking is applied!! – On the other hand – looking objectively, maybe it won’t, and they will have to study and learn like everyone else!

    Avi Goldstein #147
    May 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    The Jewish people have given the world the highest in intellectual achievements, and that is not because of any innate ability;

    Well there’s a surprising view! – and history suggests it is applied innate ability, dedication, and effort on the part of those making those breakthroughs!

    it is because Torah study trains one to think logically and rationally.

    Err no! They need to think logically and rationally, but those immersed in dogma and besotted by irrational god-delusion apologetics, can’t claim to share in those achievements, just because they have a cultural association, or have read an ancient book.
    The achievements were a result of work, research, and scientific skills, not the result of having a closed mind handicapped by, “I don’t need to learn because god-did-it”!

  230. The problem with religious delusions is that they generate irrational decisions which affect other people!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-39976018

    A doctor accused of circumcising a boy without his mother’s consent should be prosecuted, a leading human rights lawyer has said.

    The three-month-old boy was circumcised for religious reasons while staying with his paternal grandparents in 2013.

    A police investigation was dropped but Saimo Chahal QC wants Nottinghamshire Police to take action against Dr Balvinder Mehat.

    The doctor told the BBC it would not be appropriate for him to comment.

    He has not clarified whether or not he had been told that the mother had consented to the procedure.

    Nottinghamshire Police said in a statement: “Where a victim or member of the public feel a decision made by us to discontinue an investigation should be reviewed, we will always welcome an appeal.

    “We are absolutely dedicated to getting the best for our victims and will always work with them and support them.”

    The boy’s mother believes circumcision amounts to MGM, or “male genital mutilation”, and is “inhumane”.

    “I am deeply hurt by what has happened to my son and the suffering I have been forced to witness,” she said.

    “No amount of money in the world could make right what’s been done, and my only hope is to raise awareness of MGM and reveal the true suffering this procedure really inflicts on tiny babies.

    “My life will never be the same again and I dread my son growing up and learning what happened to him.”

    The law and ethics of male circumcision: BMA guidelines

    Both parents should normally give consent for “non-therapeutic” or “ritual” circumcision, i.e. when the procedure is not carried out for medical reasons

    When parents disagree about whether a child should be circumcised, doctors should not circumcise without the leave of a court

    Doctors must make accurate, contemporaneous notes of discussions, consent, the procedure and its aftercare

    The medical harms or benefits of circumcision have not been unequivocally proven but there are clear risks of harm if the procedure is done inexpertly

    All children who are capable of expressing a view should be involved in decisions about whether they should be circumcised, and their wishes taken into account

    Source: British Medical Association

  231. Arkrid Sandwich #134
    Ok, now I know you’re just a troll taking the piss and not worth bothering with.

    I really wondered if there was a conspiracy on here to try and stimulate a discussion by inventing this guy for everyone to argue against.
    I think he really exists having gone through most of the comments, but he is so far from my version of reality that I still have some doubts. I am aware those like him exist but I am staggered by the obvious double think going on in his head. Clearly this must have had some kind of evolutionary advantage but how far does it go? There must be a point in our development where it could lead to survival dificulties not an advantage.
    To mention H G Wells again, I wonder if there will be some type of speciation that occurs separating those of faith from those with very rational thinking, just like Wells’s separation of the Eloi and Morlocks.

    Maybe Avi would be a bit less dogmatic if he were arguing face to face in front of a neutral audience. But all credit to everyone here taking such time to try and help him to think critically.
    In the end it might not be a lost cause if others see this discussion and are enlightened by it even if they are just able to grasp how they might be seen by others when expounding their own brand of ‘certainty’ without evidence.

    As somebody said in all the stuff above “should take the show on the road” although I suppose Richard and friends have done that to a large extent already.

    I am staggered that all this underwear checking goes on at all, but then again I am not unaware of the myriad of perversions that go on in the real world. Just look at any religion; they all seem to have some sort of sexual perversion of some sort hidden away somewhere.

  232. He’s all too real, Tim. I have been listening for the past two days to people who sound just like him, and these are our elected officials, our legislators. Listen to Republicans argue that climate change is cyclical, and that man “may” have a role to play, but we mustn’t sacrifice all those great coal jobs, etc.

    Underwear checking.

    Freud would have something to say about that!

  233. Dan #255

    The intellectual are more likely to agree, without external coercion, than the intellectually destitute. Their “will” comprises first and foremost the irresistible forces of a culturally devised and honed Reason. It is clever to know when instinct is insufficient and cede control of thoughts to a less soft machine.

    Coercion, reverses this, ceding pretty much all control of thoughts to the parasite exploiter….

  234. Tim

    Avi is just another standard garden variety fundamentalist. He’s no different than his counterparts who were programed with a slightly different version of his 1.0 program. Christian evangelicals = 2.0 and Muslim fundamentalists = 3.0 version.

    Dan

    Underwear checking.
    Freud would have something to say about that!

    This is out of Freud’s realm. It’s too overt. He’d pack up his couch and head for the hills.

  235. um, yes, I do exist, and I would happily debate you in front of a neutral crowd!

    Chances that God created the universe (even from a non-religious perspective): one hundred percent

    chances that the universe self-created: unless you engage in mental distortions to justify a self-created universe, the chance is absolutely zero

  236. [GASP ! ]. [#265]

    That’s exactly my position!

    Chances that a god created the universe = 0

    Chances that something is the default rather than nothing = 100%

    Amazing!

    Oh, wait …

    Talk is cheap. Evidence is what we need.

  237. Stephen of Wimbledon,

    No further comment from me on this thread. I just wanted to say hi, and send you my regards.

    Okay, just one: Avi, we are all brothers and sisters, finally; please heed my advice and try to listen; question your certainty. We only go around once; you cannot possibly be certain that a God created the universe; but there is a certain mystery; that is true. But you don’t go from mystery or inexplicability to “It must be God.” That is not logical, is silly, puerile, and detrimental in so many ways. Don’t waste your life this way. Don’t waste your mind. Always question.

  238. chances that the universe self-created: unless you engage in mental distortions to justify a self-created universe, the chance is absolutely zero

    Who said it was self creating? Truth is no-one knows how the universe has come into existence but if you have evidence (read evidence not faith) by all means publish, you’ll probably win the Nobel prize.

    Funny how you can see the idea of a self creating universe as a tautology but a self creating or eternal god as somehow immune from this requirement. The key difference is you will not see people here or physicists asserting to know what happened to our universe before the big bang (or even if that question has any meaning), you will see speculation, hypotheses and attempts to find ways to drill down and discover the truth but we just don’t know and neither do you. Any attempts to assert otherwise are just flawed thinking in light to the absence of any evidence.

  239. @Avi,

    An additional point you may wish to consider before you start throwing probabilities around. To calculate probability you find put the number of favorable outcomes (those you are trying to measure) over the total amount of possible outcomes. So if flipping a coin the chances of getting a head are 1 over 2, the chances of getting a 2 when rolling a 6 sided die are 1 over 6. The problem you have here and what you need to be careful of is that in this case we have no way of knowing how many possible ways there are for a universe to exist (we have only one example to look at so far).

    So if I said to you I have a die in my pocket what are the odds of getting a 1. You would need to know first how many sides my die has, you can get dungons and dragons die with many sides some even have letters instead of numbers. So do you care to explain how you have come to a 0% probability? Are you telling us you have extensive physical knowledge of every type of universe that can possibly exist? If so please let us in on your extensive knowledge I’m sure there will be many practical applications for such a profound understanding of the universe.

  240. Avi Goldstein #265
    Jun 4, 2017 at 1:35 am

    um, yes, I do exist, and I would happily debate you in front of a neutral crowd!

    This site is open to anyone who wants to read it, and anyone who wants to make evidence-based rational arguments!

    From the evidence of this discussion, you would need to spend several months or years, studying and catching up on the basic science, mathematics and scientific language, before you could even put together a credible agenda for a discussion.

    Chances that God created the universe (even from a non-religious perspective): one hundred percent

    Nope! –
    Chances that fundamentalist creationists, can’t do science or maths or calculate probabilities, so just make up numbers ~ 99.9999999%

    chances that the universe self-created:

    No informed scientists suggested a “self created universe”. The beginning of the big bang and its source of the energy pulse is unknown – Unknown to anybody at this time!

    I even wrote a spoof post @#254 to illustrate the issue of making up silly claims about the unknown, and then challenging people to refute them!
    It also raises the paradox issue of the infinite regression of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator . . . . . . .

    As I pointed out in an earlier post,
    “Nobody knows THEREFORE I know that god-did-it”, is irrational gapology!

    unless you engage in mental distortions to justify a self-created universe, the chance is absolutely zero

    According to those from inside isolationist bubbles of ignorance, with Dunning-Kruger confidence, where they have no understanding of the mechanisms of the laws of physics, no idea about the readily available evidence, no idea how to base logical reasoning on objective evidence, and have no idea how to calculate probabilities! –
    but they do know how to make unevidenced assertions from mistaken preconceptions, and how to express incredulity about well known facts.

    Alan4discussion #253May 31, 2017 at 6:14 am

    ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

    Avi Goldstein #202 – May 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Even if one were to grant that somehow the universe
    came into being on its own
    (a totally illogical, unreasonable notion),
    one still cannot explain how the universe subsequently ordered
    itself into galaxies, then spawned organic matter,

    Mmmm… Star formation – supernova – nuclear fusion producing heavy elements found in organic molecules – galaxy evolution – accretion disks – planet formation –
    I think the evidence can be found by those who look!

    So when you have studied this list of subjects which explain how the stars, galaxies and planets formed, along with the Giant Collision theory of Earth’s formation and the geological history of the Earth, through the Hadean era, to the pre-oxygen atmosphere, the formation of continents and tectonic plates: – you then could be in a position to present a credible explanation of the formation of the Earth to an educated unbiased audience!

    Chances are – that fundamentalists think THEIR egotistical god-delusion IS THE centre, and central feature, of the Universe, IS very high! –
    Despite individual humans, humans in general, the Earth, the Solar-System, and the Milky Way galaxy, representing an almost infinitely tiny percentage of the matter and volume of space in Universe!

  241. Avi #265

    Chances that God created the universe (even from a non-religious perspective): one hundred percent

    So you feigned interest in the eye etc. Why talk? Why waste our time?

    Take care. Certainty, makes monsters of men, however avuncular, however garrulous, clear about their entitlement and that of others.

  242. Avi Goldstein #265
    Jun 4, 2017 at 1:35 am

    Chances that God created the universe (even from a non-religious perspective): one hundred percent

    If one looks back throgh the extensive verbiage you’ve deposited in here the above line turns out to be all you’ve actually managed to say, except without a shred of proof. You’ve waffled and bullshitted and tried to deflect and boasted about your huge Trumpian intellect, how bigly you’ve study science and philosophy and basically only come up with a single thought – that your god is incontrovertible, so there.

    You’ve done about the same job as those who wrote the bible, which is maybe not so surprising. Lots and lots of words which signify nothing.

    If you aspire to be some sort of Jewish scholar then you do a feeble impersonation of anyone with an actual education. However we have no way of knowing who you really are. You could be a 14 year old atheist troll, giggling to himself in his bedroom at the people spending their time responding to his bait and masturbating furiously.

  243. Avi #265

    Chances that God created the universe (even from a non-religious perspective): one hundred percent

    Chances that {my} God-delusion {in my head} created the universe (even from a non-scientific, non-mathematical perspective): one hundred percent religious memetic fantasy!

    Erroneous claim clarified and up-graded!!

  244. and i find it humorous that while some of you hide behind fake names and some give only their first names, I give my full name, yet am accused of not existing! (Don’t mean to start an “I think therefore I am” discussion!)

  245. phil rimmer #271
    Jun 4, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Avi #265

    So you feigned interest in the eye etc.

    Different eyes couldn’t have evolved lots of times in different species – They are all the same? – aren’t they ????? 🙂 {God-must-have-did-it-in-mysterious-ways a few billion years after creating the universe and a few more billion years after creating the Earth!}
    No transitions from simple eye spots to various levels of complexity to be found anywhere??? 🙂 – Unless we actually look at the biology of numerous organisms!

    http://infinitespider.com/many-eyes-spider/

    How Many Eyes Does A Spider Have to Help It See?

    https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-scallops-2291857

    Scallops have about 60 eyes that line their mantle.
    These eyes may be a brilliant blue color, and allow the scallop to detect light, dark and motion.
    The eyes are visible as round dots on the image here.

    How could a universe exist without worshipping humans??

    Whoops! 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999 . . . . % of it does! –

    and did for 99.999999999…% of the time it existed!

  246. Avi Goldstein #275
    Jun 4, 2017 at 9:11 am

    i find it humorous that while some of you hide behind fake names and some give only their first names, I give my full name, yet am accused of not existing!

    I think the issue was incredulity at your claims to have studied science and philosophy, while demonstrating a severe lack of understanding of both of those subjects, and no sign of participating in any serious level of debate using either of those subjects!

  247. Alan,

    I certainly felt dismay at Papa Goldstein’s utter disinterest in any of his posed questions on science and his disinclination to respond to any of the serious moral challenges except by way of conversational dismissals. I hoped he would notice that our own eyes are perhaps less elaborate and clever than some jumping spiders with two fully independent zoomable telescopic eyes, outdoing superman in sophistication, watching more extensively for prey and threats but range finding at a distance to jump accurately and with greatest effect. Not only will half an eye work well for half the tasks needed but evolution hasn’t finished with us. In no sense is ours a “design” that is finished or meant to be. Our screwed up retinas (back to front) limiting our night-time vision is a dead giveaway that no intelligence planned the journey of increasing (evolved) visual capacities.

  248. Avi Goldstein #275
    Jun 4, 2017 at 9:11 am
    and i find it humorous that while some of you hide behind fake names and some give only their first names,

    There are people who post comments on this website who need some degree of anonymity if they wish to stay alive. In some parts of the world atheism and blasphemy are punishable by torture/death. Also, even belonging to the wrong strain of any particular religion can get a person and their family killed. I shouldn’t have to explain the reality of this problem to an Orthodox Jew. Holding to the wrong religion in the wrong place at the wrong time has been deadly in the past and still goes on in the present day. These are perfectly good reasons to post comments here under a partial real name or a full screen name.