Why do you believe in Science?
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August 12, 2013 6:22 pm at 6:22 pm #610339
I believe that Science is a valuable enterprise that can produce real knowledge about the world. I think that this position is accepted by almost everybody, but I wonder how many people have investigated the rational basis for science as an enterprise (and by science I mean “the attempt to understand the workings of nature through observation and the formulation of laws and principles based on these observations”)
If one inquires into the rationale behind science one quickly discovers that all of science (outside of theoretical mathematics which isn’t really a science) is based on a logical fallacy. All of science is based on the inductive application of the observed to the unobserved. Why should anyone assume that what happened to the observed will also happen to the unobserved? There are only two possible answers to this question that I can think of.
1) We see it work out and we assume it will continue to work in the future.
2) As an article of faith, we believe that there are RULES and LAWS that govern the universe just waiting to be discovered. Therefore if we perceive patterns we can assume that we are observing those laws.
The first answer is itself an exercise in inductive logic, an extrapolation from the observed “work” in the present and past to the unobserved “work” in the future. It is therefore circular reasoning and fallacious.
The second answer is a matter of faith for which we can have no evidence without relying on the same inductive fallacy (or a revelation).
Now I think that there is good reason to believe in Science despite its lack of logical basis, but I think it is even more interesting that Science, as a valid enterprise, is not questioned but just assumed by everybody. There is no group with whom we share numerous culture aspects that questions the validity of Science and so we do not either.
I know my reasons, but what are yours? Why do you believe in Science?
(This thread is inspired by the “Why I am also still frum” thread.)August 12, 2013 7:06 pm at 7:06 pm #976676
“1) We see it work out and we assume it will continue to work in the future.”
It actually makes allot of sense to predict the future based on what you know to happen in the past from your personal experience. It is logical to assume that when you drop something it will fall, because never in the history of Planet earth have things fallen up. You can’t “Prove” that you won’t wake up tomorrow to a world where things fall up but it is the logical conclusion to come too.
“2) As an article of faith, we believe that there are RULES and LAWS that govern the universe just waiting to be discovered. Therefore if we perceive patterns we can assume that we are observing those laws.”
Actually it’s the exact opposite! Until people started using the scientific method it was assumed things in the world were arbitrary: i.e. when there was an eclipse everyone would think it was a sign they did something wrong and/or be afraid that God put out the sun and they had to pray to get it to come back out. Later it was discovered that Eclipses occur due to the laws of nature, are predictable, and have nothing to do with what human beings do or don’t do. The fact that things operated in a way that when understood showed that the Universe works according to certain laws is why this is believed…August 12, 2013 7:13 pm at 7:13 pm #976677jewishfeminist02Member
Science is not faith. It is not something to “believe” or not “believe”. If you choose to assert that proven rules of science do not apply to the universe, that is your prerogative, but it does not change the fact that they are proven rules. Of course one cannot observe everything in the world, but that does not mean that it is impossible to draw conclusions about anything. For instance, what if you observe your toddler poking your baby and your baby crying? And what if this happens on a regular basis, and you tell your toddler to stop poking the baby because he/she clearly doesn’t like it? If your toddler were to say to you, “But Ima, you didn’t see it every time, sometimes the baby doesn’t mind,” how would you respond? Would you believe that there are times that the baby doesn’t mind being poked? And even if there are, would that mean that the general rule that the baby doesn’t like being poked is no longer true?August 12, 2013 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #976678☕ DaasYochid ☕Participant
1), despite the “fallacy”. We make all types of decisions in life without 100% certainty that the assumptions they’re based on are true.August 12, 2013 7:56 pm at 7:56 pm #976679Shopping613 🌠Participant
I don’t, I beleive Hashem made the world with a bunch of unrational rules that he can of course break and that we dont understand them and arent supposed to and a bunch of idiots get paid millions a year to make up “reasonable answers and theries” like the big bang theory….August 12, 2013 7:57 pm at 7:57 pm #976680physicsyidParticipant
I would argue that in any intellectual enterprise, that there are always assumptions that must be made. Once we make these assumptions, we proceed as if we never made the assumption and we take that assumption to be de facto true. Does the computer you used to type your post exist? It may or may not, but you go about using it as if it is. Does Hashem exist? With 100% probability, I can’t say for sure, but I go about my life k’ilu he does exist because I made the conscious choice to bridge the probability gap (as I like to say) and assume that he does.
As you point out, science is no different. Also as you point out, we must assume that there is indeed science out there to discover in order to make it a worthwhile endeavor. We must also assume that these laws we seek to discover are the same today as they are tomorrow, or else what is the point of discovering them today (assuming it was even a 1 day job, which it most certainly isn’t)?
Without dragging on, my main point I wish to bring out is that those who criticize science for these underlying assumptions and use these assumptions to lower science’s credibility as compared to other disciplines are mistaken, as these types of assumptions must always be made (though many times they are quite implicit and the unassuming may glance over them).August 12, 2013 8:11 pm at 8:11 pm #976681
“It actually makes allot of sense to predict the future based on what you know to happen in the past from your personal experience.”
Why does that “make a lot of sense”? Your only reason for thinking it makes a lot of sense is your observations in the past projected unto the future. This is circular reasoning.
“Actually it’s the exact opposite! Until people started using the scientific method it was assumed things in the world were arbitrary: i.e. when there was an eclipse everyone would think it was a sign they did something wrong and/or be afraid that God put out the sun and they had to pray to get it to come back out.”
Two points: (1) I wasn’t discussing historically what people thought/believed, I was discussing a potentially logically sound basis for science; (2) It also isn’t true historically. People didn’t believe everything was arbitrary before modern science changed things. Natural rules were believed to exist before Frances Bacon and scienctific method, they just weren’t as observation based and systematically delineated. (It could be what you describe existed in some pagan societies, but it certainly wasn’t the case in monotheistic cultures or in Greece. Eclipses and other relatively rare events might have been understood differently because they did not appear to follow any known Natural Rule or LAW)August 12, 2013 8:11 pm at 8:11 pm #976682zvei dinimParticipant
“All of science is based on the inductive application of the observed to the unobserved”
Our knowledge of the outside world is based statistical extrapolation of patterns in our minds sense impressions. The patterns may be random, but probability rules out (yes, I know U dont like the phrase “probability rules out” and that “Ur almost sure about that”) a pattern forming from pure randomness.
The statistical extrapolation of our sense impressions are representative of a reality what we refer to as the co-ordinates of space-time. The statistical extrapolations of the patterns of space-time coordinates is known as physical science. Barring extrapolation from observed to unobserved, would require that observation is a causative factor in the observed phenomenon – something which is complex in a specific way, and thus mathematically unlikely. Furthermore, even if observation is a causative factor, then “physical science” would still be the science of observed phenomena and you can still make inductions to the observed phenomenon.August 12, 2013 8:14 pm at 8:14 pm #976683
I agree with everything you wrote. My point is only to bring out that science is no different than anything else, it is just so widely accepted that very few people think to inquire about its base assumptions.August 12, 2013 8:19 pm at 8:19 pm #976684
I think you are misunderstanding me. I am not claiming that we don’t all rely on inductive reasoning all the time. I am only arguing that inductive reasoning has no valid logical basis. We use it, and assume it to be valid despite the fact that it has no logical basis.
Strictly speaking one cannot “prove” rules of the natural sciences. Almost all of us take them as fact anyway, but I think it is a worthwile endeavor to try and understand WHY you take them as fact?August 12, 2013 8:20 pm at 8:20 pm #976685
I mean makes a lot of sense in that it works. Practically.
As far as the second point; my point was simply that the fact that laws of nature exists is not a premise accepted on blind faith as you inferred in your earlier comment.
Also I responded to you on the “why I am also frum” thread. Did you see it?August 12, 2013 8:30 pm at 8:30 pm #976686
There is no such thing as “belief” in science, for two reasons: (a) As jewfishfeminist said, you can choose to acknowledge or contest its principles, but belief does not come into the equation one way or another; (b) Belief is antithecal to scientific methodology in that it compromises falsifiability and is at odds with its ethos of discovery.
–Richard FeynmanAugust 12, 2013 8:39 pm at 8:39 pm #976687Nigritude UltramarineMember
Read what you wrote again.August 12, 2013 8:53 pm at 8:53 pm #976688physicsyidParticipant
I am a Ph.D. student in Physics, and I can testify against your statement that ‘there is no such thing as belief in science’. Quite on the contrary, I hear all the time about how my colleagues believe that supersymmetry just HAS to be there. The Higgs just HAD to be there. Right now, all the tests for supersymmetry have turned up with nothing. If it actually exists, it solves many issues with the Standard Model, but there is right now no evidence for it. Yet, many physicists doggedly believe it exists (not that I necessarily think it doesn’t, I am just saying this to make a point). There is an extreme disconnect between how those are on the outside are taught that science works vs. how it actually works.
In addition: regarding your statement about how belief in science compromises falsifiability, you are most certainly right, and that’s exactly my point. Science isn’t as clean as our 4th grade teachers would like to tell us. It is a social process just as everything else in this world is.
Also, just because Feynman thought it more ‘interesting’ to live with doubt and his advice of leaving the door ajar to doubt, this doesn’t mean you doubt absolutely everything. As I said above, there are some assumptions that must be made in order to proceed with any endeavor. I cannot doubt the fact that the laws of the universe will be the same tomorrow than those of today, or else I am out of a job. I cannot doubt the fact that the laws of physics are discoverable, or else I’m out of a job. This kind of sounds like belief to me.August 12, 2013 9:48 pm at 9:48 pm #976689
Please don’t take offense at this: That is nonsense. Belief is integral to science (and everything else) at every level. In science, as in any other practical discipline, choices need to be made without perfect knowledge and those choices will based on beliefs. Not to mention the many other beliefs, such as the belief in the validity of inductive reasoning (mentioned above), the belief in the ability of our senses and mind to accurately perceive reality, the belief that our partners and colleagues are being truthful, etc.
When you live with “doubt, uncertainty and unkowing” you have no choice but live with belief. You may not know that gravity is real, and you certainly don’t understand what causes it, but you are still going to act as if it was real. That is belief. It isn’t 100% certainty, it isn’t absolute knowledge, it is belief upon which you base the way you live your life.
As an aside, “falsifiability” was recent element introduced into science as way keeping science rational despite the inductive fallacy I started this conversation with. Most beliefs are falsifiable.August 12, 2013 9:53 pm at 9:53 pm #976690
“I mean makes a lot of sense in that it works. Practically.”
I agree that it has worked practically in many instances up until know. That, however, is not a logical basis to assume that there is any rule or law that it must work in the future.
“As far as the second point; my point was simply that the fact that laws of nature exists is not a premise accepted on blind faith as you inferred in your earlier comment.”
I don’t think it is blind faith. But the only evidence for it is inductive as well and therefore that belief, that there are natural rules and laws, cannot be the basis for inductive reasoning.
I will head over to the other thread to respond to your response there.August 12, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm #976691LevAryehMember
Let’s not forget that a scientific conclusion is still called a theory.August 12, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm #976692
By working practically I mean it works practically to make predictions based on it.
You can call it beleif if you want but it is a very different type of belief then religious beleif in that there is practical testable results that show that the beleif is trueAugust 13, 2013 2:29 am at 2:29 am #976693
physicsyid: When I say there is no such thing as belief in science, I am specifically not referring to the opinions and methods of scientists themselves. It is natural that those who perhaps devote their life’s work to the development of a certain field or theory will feel an inexplicable affinity toward it. But that is a failing of human beings, not of the study of science itself.
As for making assumptions in the development of scientific principles: I think there is a difference between making an assumption and acknowledging that it is not testable, and labeling said assumption as “belief.” That’s where the idea of uncertainty comes in.
As for your lasts remarks: yes, what you are describing is your belief. But those are beliefs that are not intrinsic to scientific methodology; they are metaphysical/epistemological queries, which, while they may have implications in the long run, do not factor into scientific avenues. Also, I don’t see what job security has to do with anything.August 13, 2013 5:27 am at 5:27 am #976694zvei dinimParticipant
benignuman U missed my answerAugust 13, 2013 7:04 am at 7:04 am #976695Shopping613 🌠Participant
Nig: why, what did i spell incorrectly? Anyway it dosent matter, i meant what i wroteAugust 13, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am #976696assurnetParticipant
lakewood001 – “when there was an eclipse everyone would think it was a sign they did something wrong and/or be afraid that God put out the sun and they had to pray to get it to come back out. Later it was discovered that Eclipses occur due to the laws of nature, are predictable, and have nothing to do with what human beings do or don’t do.”
Actually the Gemara in Sukkot discusses different human actions that bring about eclipses… I’m not quite sure I would describe Chazal as “arbitrary.” And as a disclaimer, just because we can now map the schedule of such astrological events in advance isn’t a stirah to the Gemara… if we don’t see how the two both work together the lacking is in our brains.August 13, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am #976697
Lakewood001 and Zvei Dinim,
Either you didn’t understand my question or I am not understanding your answers.
You cannot use an inductive argument to demonstrate the validity of inductive reasoning. That is circular. Any statement about probability is going to be based inductive reasoning, because without inductive reasoning there is no way to formulate probabilities.August 13, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am #976698
Barring extrapolations from the observed to the unobserved does not mean that observation is causitive, unless you already assume that there are laws and rules governing the Universe (and that you can perceive what they are).August 13, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm #976699
You wrote: “As for making assumptions in the development of scientific principles: I think there is a difference between making an assumption and acknowledging that it is not testable, and labeling said assumption as “belief.”
The whole point of my opening post is that the entirety of science is based on a major assumption for which there is no logical basis and which is inherently untestable. All of science is based on just such a “belief.”
Additionally, there is odd semantic issue out there that you are echoing, that “belief” means an assumption that is not testable or not based on evidence. But that isn’t how most people use the word. Most people use the word to mean assumptions and positions I have reason to hold of but for which I cannot be absolutely sure. I don’t know, but I believe.
There are very few things indeed that people believe without evidence. And most things that people believe are testable, at least theoretically.August 13, 2013 1:04 pm at 1:04 pm #976700
My point is that you can go on about logical fallacies all day but the point is that when I make plans for tommorow based on the “beleif” that the laws of gravity will still be here then, it works. Religion has no such thing, there is nothing fundamental and testable in my life that would change if Religion isn’t true; and the burden of proof is always on religion. You dont logically need proof to not beleive i.e If evrey book ever written is written by men and you wish to believe that one book out of all books is written by a God, you have to prove that it is. It is impossible to “prove” that it isn’t written by God but you also can’t “prove” that it didn’t write itself. The fact that you can’t prove that something didn’t happen doesn’t mean that it is logical to believe that it did.August 13, 2013 1:16 pm at 1:16 pm #976701
How is it not a Stira? I’m asking sincerely.August 13, 2013 2:06 pm at 2:06 pm #976702gavra_at_workParticipant
The whole point of my opening post is that the entirety of science is based on a major assumption for which there is no logical basis and which is inherently untestable.
Pum Fakert! If something is “untestable” then it is not “proven”. The reason why conclusions are “proven” (and even then it may be within the realm of statistical probability) is because the results can be replicated time and time again. If one time the results are not replicated, then the theory fails, or is modified to account for the new information. That is why your science book from 50 years ago is not the same as it is today. New theories have been “proven”, and old ones disproven.
The underlying “laws” are irrelevant to the conversation. Whether an apple falls due to gravity, general relativity or quantum gravity makes no difference to either yourself (when it hits you on the head) or the apple (although it may have other applications, which is why you may want to test the “why”).August 13, 2013 2:19 pm at 2:19 pm #976703assurnetParticipant
lakewood – I should have mentioned that I haven’t learned it that Gemara on the inside, I heard it brought up in a shiur so I can’t say that I know if the mefarshim take it at face value but let’s assume they do for argument’s sake. Unfortunately I’m not holding on the level that I can personally offer you any answers that don’t seem somewhat like a cop-out (perhaps there are brighter people than I in the CR who can). But if we observe a natural phenomena which seems relatively predictable yet Chazal states it’s based on human independent human behavior, than what are we really left with other than to say we don’t understand it properly ourselves?
I suppose one could answer that when Hashem designed the trajectory and orbital patterns of the universe and our solar system in general He already knew all of human history so He knew what human actions would merit what astronomical events. You could argue that it would seemingly negate free-will but the whole bechirah/yediah thing is one of the essential stiras of Torah so I guess you’d have much bigger things to worry about.
I once heard in a shiur from Rav Tzvi Aryeh Rosenfeld in which he discussed that if a niddah looks into a mirror that nobody has ever used before then it will get a blood spot on it (if I remember the details correctly). He said that we have to have emunah shleima in such a thing and if we fail to observe the phenomenon occurring then we must assume it’s because on the level we’re holding at we’re not zoche.August 13, 2013 3:26 pm at 3:26 pm #976704Avram in MDParticipant
Actually the Gemara in Sukkot discusses different human actions that bring about eclipses… I’m not quite sure I would describe Chazal as “arbitrary.” And as a disclaimer, just because we can now map the schedule of such astrological events in advance isn’t a stirah to the Gemara…
How is it not a Stira? I’m asking sincerely.
I can think of several possible answers.
First, I think for the purposes of the Gemara, it’s not the occurrence of the eclipse that is important, but the observation of it. Just because an eclipse occurs does not mean that people in a given location will see it. Cloud cover, for example, can render a lunar eclipse and most solar eclipses invisible. A total solar eclipse would be viewed quite differently under cloud cover than on a clear day.
Second, if G-d created and controls the universe, including all of the physical laws, and He knows the future and the hearts of Man, then it would follow that the laws of physics and history would work together such that eclipses occur and are observed over regions where such behavior occurs.August 13, 2013 3:39 pm at 3:39 pm #976705
If these things were preordained by God because he knows the future then they should only be as predictable as Human behavior. They shouldn’t seem to follow set laws.
As for your second answer about the Mirror thing. Really? We are talking about Mitzius here; if it isn’t true you have one of two options
1.) you misunderstood what they meant i.e. they didn’t mean what you thought they meant (that a blood spot would appear)
2.)They were wrong.
To say that they where talking about a Mitzius that only applies to people on a certain Madreiga when they don’t indicate this themselves seems kind of sillyAugust 13, 2013 4:36 pm at 4:36 pm #976707gavra_at_workParticipant
I once heard in a shiur from Rav Tzvi Aryeh Rosenfeld in which he discussed that if a niddah looks into a mirror that nobody has ever used before then it will get a blood spot on it
To go totally off topic, why is this not the same as other zany ideas that other religions have (and we make fun of them for it for being so outlandish), such as the 72 reBesulosing Besulos, or transubstantiation?
Serious question, not trolling. If we can accept the supernatural/unexplained that we see does not happen as fact, why should we disbelieve when others claim the same?August 13, 2013 4:57 pm at 4:57 pm #976708twistedParticipant
OP and others re the “article of faith” From Yirmiyahu 33:25 and Shabbos 33a it emerges that the natural laws are immutable FACT, but for their dependence on Jews learning.August 13, 2013 7:54 pm at 7:54 pm #976709
That things usually fall when you drop them was not discovered by Newton or any other scientist. Science is taking those observations and formulating laws and rules that govern those observations.
If you to present me with a book and tell me that it just appeared out of thin air, I would examine the evidence on both sides of that proposition and evaluate it. Now if there was no practical difference I might not bother, but it would be incorrect to simply conclude without examination of the evidence that you were lying.
Now you presented a piece of evidence both in this thread and in the frum thread. Your evidence is that all other books that we know of are written by men, it therefore stands to reason that this book was also written by men. That is evidence because it increases the probability that this book (the Torah) was written by men.
Now if we examine the Torah we will find that it claims to have been written down by the command of G-d (I will use “authored by G-d” as shorthand). This is evidence that it was authored by G-d because that claim from within the document increases the probability that the book was in fact authored by G-d.
Now as far as I know there is no other book that even claims to have been written down by direct command of G-d, but even if there were they would now be in a small subset to be evaluated each on its own evidence. If we could conclude that each of these books (assuming they exist) were written by men then your evidence would still hold up. Either way, however, we now have evidence on both sides of the equation.
Here are three additional pieces (there are many more) of evidence (remember EVIDENCE, not proof) that the Torah was in fact authored by G-d.
1) The Torah predicts that the Jewish people will be thrown out of their land, will be in scattered around the world, will be persecuted, will be few in number, but will remain Jews until their eventual return to the land. The earliest copies of the Torah we have date back to the middle of the Second Temple before our long bitter diaspora and before our millenia of senseless persecution, before our lack of assimilation, and before our return to our land. This certainly makes it more likely that the Torah was written by G-d then by men.
2) The Torah predicates large segments of its laws on a state of ritual purity that requires the existence of a extraordinarily rare animal (the Para Adumah). It seems unlikely that humans would do such a thing (they could of course, people have good imaginations, but it is less likely), because they could not guarantee the existence of this animal thereby jeopardizing the whole Temple ritual scheme.
3) Jews for thousands of years have believed that G-d was the author of the Torah. This wasn’t questioned until Spinoza and it wasn’t questioned by a group, until the 19th Century. Now if it was written by men it means that at some time in the past, somebody fooled all the Jews into thinking it was authored by G-d or the Jews all forgot. It seems rather unlikely that someone could fool all of the Jewish people like that and therefore makes it less likely that the Torah was written by men.
Once again, none of these are proofs positive. If I was wedded to the position that the Torah was man-made I could come up with a dozen explanations for each point. But that doesn’t change the fact that each one makes increases the odds that the Torah was authored by G-d (imagine if each of these weren’t true, would the G-d authorship side be weaker, stronger or indifferent?).August 13, 2013 7:57 pm at 7:57 pm #976710
“Pum Fakert! If something is “untestable” then it is not “proven”. The reason why conclusions are “proven” (and even then it may be within the realm of statistical probability) is because the results can be replicated time and time again.”
Go back and read my opening post. I am not talking about the things being “testable” or “proven” with the scientific paradigm, I am talking the basis for the paradigm itself.
As an aside, the whole description of science as never “proving” anything and never coming to firm conclusions is relatively recent. It is the formulation of Karl Popper as a way to keep science viable in the face of Hume’s criticism of inductive reasoning (the argument in my opening post).August 13, 2013 9:11 pm at 9:11 pm #976712
benignuman: We are working with different understandings of the concept of belief. I think yours generates a good framework of understanding, but I do not think it is sufficient. Also, I think your understanding of the nature of science as a whole (as laid out in the first paragraph of the OP) is not fully formed. This will factor in later.
One thing that important to tack onto this concept is that science is not determined by scientists. Science is a tool used to catalogue information, and scientists are people who use that tool. As with all tools, if the user does not properly understand the use of the tool, or insists on applying the tool to tasks it is inherently unsuited to, work done with the tool with likely be faulty. Science is very often touted as a way to get all the answers about the universe and such (which I expect is where axioms about physical existence and projected rules and laws come from), when in reality, science as close to a goalless process as possible. It is a means, not an end. If it has any end, it is only to be an efficient means. We create our own ends to give meaning to the enterprise, but those meanings are not intrinsic to science itself. And yes, due to the inductive nature of scientific inquiry, such subjectivity can lead to skewed conclusions. But at the end of the day, science is still fully capable of washing its hands of all that. The responsibility does not lie with the method itself.August 13, 2013 9:28 pm at 9:28 pm #976713Nigritude UltramarineMember
Off topic, but if G-d knows the future then Genesis 6:7 makes it confusing. It’s confusing because it uses the word “regret.”August 13, 2013 9:59 pm at 9:59 pm #976716sharpMember
I think the term is more like “relent” than regret.
(As in become less severe, or forgiving)August 14, 2013 4:22 pm at 4:22 pm #976717
Thank you for thoughtful post. There is much that I would like to say in response and I think that we could probably come to an agreement. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have a lot work on my plate right now and do not have time to write a worthy response.
I will respond to you more at length when I have the time (perhaps the beginning of next week). For now: if you have two books and one claims to be written by G-d and makes no claim of authorship at all (it is anonymous), which is more likely to be a book authored by G-d? Of course claims of authorship increase the likelihood of actual authorship by the claimant.
As a less controversial analogy. If there is a court case over the ownership of a factory and Company A wants to introduce a general ledger showing the purchase of the factory. The other party claims that the ledger is not Company A’s ledger but a random ledger of one of the million other companies in the country. The fact that ledger says on it “General Ledger of Company A” will be evidence that it is in fact the General Ledger of Company A, and will be admissible as such.August 14, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm #976721charliehallParticipant
I am also a scientist and would like to second physicsyid’s second comment from two days ago.August 15, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am #976722
benignuman: Thanks. I look forward to your response.August 15, 2013 3:05 am at 3:05 am #976723Veltz MeshugenerMember
Benignuman: Your OP is clever superficially, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The belief in science that we profess every day is different from belief in Torah that is demanded of us (at least in this generation). Belief in science is purely utilitarian. Sure, past performance is not inherently indicative of future results, but I am not proclaiming past performance as king. I am saying that this has worked in the past, and I choose to do it again because I think it will work again. The minute it doesn’t work, guess what happens? I adjust my “beliefs”.
When you talk about believing in the Torah, in contrast, there is no utilitarian explanation. You are inventing both the cause and the effect, and demanding that I believe them. But if someone doesn’t believe that Hashem told him to kiss the mezuzah, and ALSO doesn’t believe that if he kisses the mezuzah blessings will rain down on him from heaven, then he really has no excuse for kissing the mezuzah, unless he believes in a vacuum that the asserted facts are true.August 18, 2013 3:29 am at 3:29 am #976724
I never said that the Torah claims that the words were literally written down by G-d (other than the Aseres HaDibros). The claim is that they were said by G-d (e.g. VaYomer Hashem el Moshe or VaYidaber Hashem el Moshe) and/or commanded by G-d to be written down (???????? ???????? ????? ???-?????????? ???????, ??????????? ???-??????-??????????). The oral tradition clearly states that the rest of the Torah was also dictated by G-d (or commanded by G-d), but even leaving that out there is a still a claim that a substantial portion of the book is authored by G-d.
Your evidence to the contrary was that all the other books that we have are written by men. Although that doesn’t speak directly to the question at hand (the source of this particular book) and is therefore weak, it is evidence. I countered that evidence (weakening it still further) by pointing out that all those books claim to have been written by men and therefore do not speak very much to a book that claims that G-d authored, at the very least, large segments.
You responded: “it’s only evidence (weak evidence) when the claimant himself is claiming the book is written by him, and it is established that the claimant exists and writes books.”
You are correct that outside evidence that the claimant exists enhances the evidence of authorship from within the text but it is not a prerequisite. Once again. Evidence is any fact that makes X more likely in contrast with Y. If you are dealing with a criminal case and you are the prosecutor, then evidence for your side is anything that increases the likelihood of guilt (however small an increase); if you are the defense, then anything that decreases the likelihood of guilt is evidence.
Here, anything that increases the likelihood that the Torah was authored by G-d (as opposed to men) is evidence for me, and anything that increases the likelihood that the Torah was written by men (as opposed to G-d) is evidence for you.
The issue is not PROOF but EVIDENCE. There is very little in this world that can be proven (obviously your “all other books are written by men” argument is not proof either, but evidence.)
The three items I mentioned above are all EVIDENCE. They increase the likelihood (compared to if they did not exist) that the Torah was written by G-d as opposed to men.
The point that I was bringing from the prophecies regarding the fate of the Jewish people, was not the “do good or you will suffer” aspect but the nuanced prophecy of being scattered around the world yet maintaining our Jewish religion and identity (something that is not predictable). Being persecuted but never wiped out. And finally returning to our land.
That these prophecies have come true increase the likelihood that they were authored by G-d and not men (as an aside many prophecies are verifiable).August 18, 2013 4:16 am at 4:16 am #976725
So according to what you are saying we have a book written by men who make a claim that it was dictated to them by God. The Koran and many other relgious books make the same claim it is hardly a unique claim for a religous book to make.
That someone claims that a book they wrote was inspired by God is not evidence that it was.
If I write a book and claim that God inspired me to write it, that is not evidence that he did; and in fact most reasonable people will not believe me, UNLESS I could bring you very compelling evidence that it was, but the burden of proof would be totally on me.
Again the prophecies you mention are very vague and broad and are standard issue threats of punishment for disobeying God and promises of being taken care of if you follow his word.
You agree that the first and reasonable conclusion you have when you find a book is that it was written by men
You agree that evrey other book that has been claimed to be divinely inspired is in fact not divinely inspired.
You want me to believe that this particular book is different and was in fact dictated by God.
Can you provide any evidence?August 18, 2013 4:35 am at 4:35 am #976726Ben LeviParticipant
There really are some pretty striking differences between the Torah and the books of other religouns i.e the Koran and Bible of the Christians.
1) The Koran and Christian Bible both acknowledge that the Torah was factual and Correct they just claimed to be the “updated version”. Which is in direct conflict to the Torah they claimed to be correct, since the Torah states expliclty that there will be no “updated version”.
2) Non-Jewish historians (I think Paul Johnson deals with this) actually point out the difference that in Books recording the history of nations normally a great deal is made of the Nations accomplishments while the failures are either ignored or glossed over. However the Torah seems to focus on failings while glossing over the “accomplishemts”.
3) The core bedrock historical occurance used by the Torah to “verify” itsellf so to speak, is a occurance which the Torah states took place publicly about 87 generations ago, and was witnessed by millions not individually, there is no other religoun that has ever made this claim.August 18, 2013 5:20 am at 5:20 am #976727
You are wrong on the Koran. The Koran claims that the Jewish bible is not an accurate account of anything. In any case Christanity and islam are not the only other religions out there. There are hundreds of other religions as well that do not believe anything happened at Sinai.
There are plenty of miracle stories in the Christian bible and other religious writings that are claimed to have happened in front of thousands of people.August 18, 2013 5:21 am at 5:21 am #976728
Google miracle of the sun at Fatima.August 18, 2013 5:25 am at 5:25 am #976729For_realParticipant
I am late to this thread so I may reference a few eearlier posts….
On your 3 points above:
1) Tanach is full of prophecies. How would you possibly be able to account for all of of them to verify their legitimacy? So the ones that didnt prove to be true, you would say they just haven’t occurred YET. Also, as Lakewood001 pointed out, these prophesies are sufficiently vague that you can apply them to whatever you want to. (Think of the 70 year exile that was foretold would be after the destruction of bayis Rishon. Mental gymnastics by everyone to decide when the 70 years actually started. By my logic, 70 years is 70 years.) If there was a prophecy that foretold that, if the Jews don’t remain true to God, then on Sept 1, 1939 a war to end all wars will begin and 6 million Jews will systematically be terminated over the next 6 years and 3 years later the Zionists will retake the land of Israel, I’ll buy it. Not vague statements.
2) As you seem to agree yourself, para aduma is not much of an argument.
3) See my post on the frum thread to that thought. There are 900 million Hindus, 300 million Buddhists, 220 million Chinese Traditionalists, as well as many other religions. Is it any more like that THEY were the ones who were fooled? Couldn’t have been US, only THEYwere fooled. Weak argument.August 18, 2013 5:32 am at 5:32 am #976730Anonymous1000Participant
“1) We see it work out and we assume it will continue to work in the future.”
I’ve thought about this before. Just because an apple falls from the tree a million times whose to say it should do the same the millionth and one? I don’t know but we call it gravity and it works.
But the reality is, that there is no gravity, there is no nature. There is just Hashem. Every time that apple falls it is because Hashem made it happen. And that why once in a while gravity doesn’t work and you have crias yam suf. Because Hashem is the one doing it. Now Hashem keeps things going in a natural way so we could be tested in either believing in nature or Him.
I forget the source but I believe it’s been said that the difference between nature and a miracle is repetition.August 18, 2013 5:47 am at 5:47 am #976731For_realParticipant
Asssurnet and Avram in MD.
In order to prove his Theory of Relativity (which I will not profess to even begin to understand), Albert Einstein correctly predicted that a complete solar eclipse will occur in May of 1919 and will be able to be observed at a remote location in Africa. Please explain that Gemorah again. Einstein was most definitely not conversing with the all-knowing, all-seeing God, as he was an atheist.
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