Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dr. Betech accepts R. Slifkin's offer to debate

Received from Dr. Betech:

R. Slifkin states on his blog that I refused to debate him and speculates on reasons for the refusal:
So why did he refuse? I think that his refusal is for several reasons. One reason is that, especially when dealing with complicated topics, it is always much easier to throw out a list of objections to one's opponent's view than to subject one's own view to objections. Another reason is that he probably really hasn't thought very much about his own model in the first place, and how it addresses the available evidence.
This is not true. I openly accept R. Slifkin's challenge to debate what he calls my model provided that R. Slifkin accepts my prior challenge to debate his evolution model using rational arguments. Since my challenge was issued first -- in response to R. Slifkin's model presented in his books -- I insist that we start with his model in an intellectually respectful, moderated, neutral, public forum.

32 comments:

  1. Are you saying that the evidence we have supports your theory that the Earth (and universe) is less then 6000 years old and species never have evolved?

    Or are you saying that the evidence we have doesn't make it impossible for the earth to be less then 6000 years old and that species never Evolved?

    If you are arguing the first point, why not debate it? As a matter of fact it is really the same thing as debating Evolution. (if all the evidence used to prove evolution points toward a young earth and special creation you have effectively disproved Evolution)

    If you are arguing the second point your arguments are irrelevant.

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  2. Dr. Betech openly accepted the Slifkin challenge -- but R. Slifkin is unwilling to accept the Betech challenge.

    R. Slifkin rationalizes his defeat as follows: "You [Dr. Betech] are accepting on the condition that we first debate evolution? That's not called accepting, that's called refusing, because you know that I have already categorically rejected your proposal to debate evolution."

    So, first R.Slifkin falsely accuse Dr. Betech of refusing to debate. Then when faced with Dr. Betech's agreement, R. Slifkin categorically refuses to defend his own views. R. Slifkin would like the advantage of attack without the need to defend, precisely satisfying the accusation he brought to bear on his opponent.

    R. Slifkin wrote that "Dr. Betech is terrified" to defend his own model. One could be uncharitable and accuse R. Slifkin of being even more terrified to debate Dr. Betech. But I would prefer to challenge R. Slifkin to stand up and be a man.

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  3. Dr Betech himself said he requires irrefutable proof in order to beleive rabbi slifkin's position.

    However can Dr Betech bring even one "irrefutable proof" that the universe is less then 6000 years old, or that species never evolved? If he can why dosn't he?

    If he cant he has to admit that it only makes sense to beleive whichever way has more evidence backing it.

    I don't think even Dr Betech believes that the evidence that we have conclusively proves a young earth if he does why wont he say what his evidence is?

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  4. Ari said: "If you are arguing the first point, why not debate it? As a matter of fact it is really the same thing as debating Evolution. (if all the evidence used to prove evolution points toward a young earth and special creation you have effectively disproved Evolution)."
    Dr. Betech would like to show via rational arguments that the evidence is (a) against the billions of years evolution via chance/naturalistic processes as presented by R. Slifkin in his books, (b) consistent with the Torah model and (c) even positively in support of it. It’s a cumulative argument and a reasonable approach to take. That is why he has agreed to a debate on R. Slifkin’s terms but he also asks R. Slifkin to return the favour (something that R. Slifkin refuses to do).

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  5. The points Rabbi Slifkin says in his books are accepted unanimously are common ancestry and an ancient earth.

    He admits that the mechanisms for evolution are not fully understood.

    It would seem that Dr. Betech has a problem with both common ancestry and an ancient earth, he even claimed to "know" that the earth is less then 6000 years old.

    So why doesn't he bring us some irrefutable proofs that the species haven't evolved and the earth is young? It really is the same thing as debating evolution.

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  6. Ari, Dr. Betech has explicitly agreed to provide evidence for his model in an open debate.

    But, right now, it is R. Slifkin who is refusing to debate. Perhaps you can persuade R. Slifkin to agree to this reasonable proposal?

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  7. No he hasn't.

    The condition he put forth to Rabbi Slifkin was that if Rabbi Slifkin cannot provide him with one irrifutable proof that the earth is older then 6000 years old and evolution of the species occured Rabbi Slifkin would have to apologize and change his position.

    Rabbi Slifkin responded by saying there are no irrifutable proofs to either position and the only logical position to take is the one with the most evidence supporting it. He also said that he would be willing to debate Dr. Betech's model of a young earth and special creation with him to determine which model fits better with the evidence we have. This is not unreasonable.

    Dr. Betech refused...Why?

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  8. Dear Ari, I did not follow the comments on R. Slifkin’s blog about irrefutable proofs, so will have to leave the response to Dr. Betech. I find it time consuming enough to read the main posts.

    I agree with you that we want the most reasonable position, the one supported by most of the evidence. However, note that one observation can refute a whole theory (despite Kuhn). For example, the GR prediction of the perihelion precession of Mercury's orbit refuted well-established Newtonian mechanics and provided evidence in support of general relativity (despite Popper’s views on confirmation). Of course, Newtonian mechanics is still accurate enough under normal conditions to get us to the moon. It’s still an incredibly successful theory in many respects.

    Dr. Betech’s current proposal is that he and R. Slifkin would each defend their respective positions using rational arguments. The word “irrefutable” nowhere appears in this proposal.

    Dr. Betech has agreed to an open and fair debate. R. Slifkin has refused to debate. Why?

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  9. Dr Betech wrote in the comments to the post "The case of Dr. Issac Betech"

    NS says "There are compelling reasons to accept the evolution of the species".
    His position would be falsified if he or his appointed representative fails to present to me even one irrefutable proof, in that case, NS would have to say: I accept that I was mistaken.
    October 4, 2010 8:07 AM

    This is the reason R Slifkin wont debate him on evolution. There isnt "even one irrefutable proof" to just about anything besides some mathematics.
    Rabbi Slifkin never claimed that there are irrefutable proofs to anything he just says that the evidence we have fits better with his position (ancient earth & evolution).

    However if Dr. Betech beleives that the only way you should beleive in somthing is if there are irrefutable proofs to them let him bring some in support of his theory (a young earth & non evolving species) and debate them with R Slifkin

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  10. There is something that I know about Rabbi Slifkin. I have no doubt about it. I wish he would prove me wrong and make a fool out of me. But I know he won't. How do I know? Becaue I know. What is it precisely that I know? I know that Rabbi Slifkin will never, ever, engage a well-versed anti-evolutionary academic in a public debate regarding evolution. It makes no difference if it is Dr. Betech or anyone else. These are the facts of life. I think everyone involved here needs to understand and accept this and move on. I also think that Dr. Betech is within his rights to insist that Rabbi Slifkin first respond to his challenge before Dr. Betech responds to Rabbi Slifkin's. But all this is irrelevant. Rabbi Slifkin is simply not interested in debating evolution so let's just move on here rabbosai...

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  11. Ari, I addressed the point of irrefutable proofs in my previous comments and I also pointed out that the expression "irrefutable proofs" does not occur in the current proposal (see there for the details). R. Slifkin has also given a variety of weak reasons for not debating Dr Betech--see my earlier critique. You also ask for Dr. Betech to produce his evidence/proofs. But that is precisely what he is proposing to do.

    So, moving forward, what is now on the table in the current proposal is for R. Slifkin and Dr. Betech to defend their respective positions using rational arguments. Do you have any objections to this formulation?

    And I ask again. Dr. Betech has agreed to an open and fair debate. R. Slifkin has refused to debate. Why?

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  12. YSO,

    Debating if the evidence we have supports the theory that the earth is young and the species havn't evovlved is exactly what Rabbi Slifkin agreed to do.

    What he didn't want to do is debate if evolution has been proven because he beleives that what will end up happening is that the Dr. will just keep harping on the fact that the evidence isn't "Conclusive" or "irrefutable" enough while ignoring the fact that evolution and an ancient earth fit a whole lot better with evidence we have then the Dr.'s position. (He beleives this for good reason, Dr. Betech said so himself ,this is why he said no to the Dr.'s original preposal.)

    Therefore he told Dr. Betech that he is willing to debate. However they will debate if the Dr.'s position is better supported by the evidence we have the Rabbi Slifkin's, and not debate the strength of the proofs to evolution in of themselves.

    Why would Dr Betech refuse this preposal?

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  13. B"H
    Ari, could you be so kind to provide a source for each of the 4 paragraphs your wrote on October 7, 2010 8:05 PM
    Thanks.
    Isaac Betech

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  14. Ari,

    I think that the flurry of back and forth comments has obscured the real issue. All of us here are frum yidden. We all believe in the mesorah, more or less. Notwithstanding the question of whether Chazal could be wrong in science, no one, not even Rabbi Slifkin, would have posited an evolutionary model for creation before Darwin came along. Our long-standing mesorah is that the world is a recent creation and that all the species were created rapidly in a short period of time. If someone wants to come along and unseat a 3000 year tradition in our nation, he needs to supply extremely compelling evidence. All Dr. Betech is doing is asking Rabbi Slifkin to provide the physical evidence that he (Rabbi Slifkin) believes allows him to reject our mesorah and re-interpret the pesukim.

    As far as your comment re Dr. Betech "harping" on irrefutability, who cares? Even if you are right, this is a public debate. The protagonists are trying to convince the audience of their respective positions, not each other. Rabbi Slifkin has plenty of opportunity to represent his side of the argument. He can try and explain to the audience that Dr. Betech’s requirements are unreasonable and that he has supplied them with sufficient evidence to accept his arguments. Let the crowd decide! The fact that Rabbi Slifkin continues to manufacture one creative excuse after another is proof positive that he is aware of the tenuousness of his position.

    I have studied evolution for many years and I can tell you this: there is no evidence whatsoever for the theory, none! I don’t just mean the mechanisms; I mean common ancestry too. The strongest indications for the idea of common ancestry is Homology and the presence of a Nested Hierarchy of biological classification (such as that of Linnaeus). The problem is, these phenomena are equally consistent with a Creation model and Rabbi Slifkin knows it! You want proof? Please see his book The Science of Torah page 147. Start from the paragraph “A separate line…” In fact, I encourage you to read his whole treatment on Homology and also on fossils. Much to his credit, Rabbi Slifkin is brutally honest and admits that essentially these items fail as a line of evidence for Evolution.

    I’ve said this a dozen times already. Rabbi Slifkin will never engage in a publicly moderated debate on Evolution with an informed individual. Since Isaac refuses (justifiably) to accept Rabbi Slifkin’s challenge before Rabbi Slifkin accepts Isaac’s (logically and temporally) prior challenge, I think we should recognize this reality, call off the debate, and go home and eat some kugel.

    But that is just my opinion...

    In truth, I'd love to see a good fight... I hope the debate happens.

    Good Shabbos.

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  15. I said:
    "The condition he put forth to Rabbi Slifkin was that if Rabbi Slifkin cannot provide him with one irrifutable proof that the earth is older then 6000 years old and evolution of the species occured Rabbi Slifkin would have to apologize and change his position."
    A Source is:
    Dr Betech wrote in the comments to the post "The case of Dr. Issac Betech"
    "NS says "There are compelling reasons to accept the evolution of the species".
    His position would be falsified if he or his appointed representative fails to present to me even one irrefutable proof, in that case, NS would have to say: I accept that I was mistaken.
    October 4, 2010 8:07 AM"

    I said,
    "Rabbi Slifkin responded by saying there are no irrifutable proofs to either position and the only logical position to take is the one with the most evidence supporting it. He also said that he would be willing to debate Dr. Betech's model of a young earth and special creation with him to determine which model fits better with the evidence we have."
    A source: Rabbi Slifkin said in his post Exposing "Scientific" evolution deniers,
    "Personally, I think it's clear as day that he is exactly like that. In his latest comments, to the earlier post, Dr. Betech has the following to say on the topic of falsifiability: "My position would be falsified very easily if someone presents me just one irrefutable proof; in that case, I would say: I accept that I was mistaken." Of course, this is a statement that is so meaningless that it becomes ludicrous. A moon-landing denier would say the same thing. The point is that they would claim to have refuted any and every argument."

    Rabbi Slifkin makes it very clear that he would be willing to debate if the evidence we have fits with the theory of a young earth and no evolution or with his position in his post "The case of Dr. Issac betech".You very clearly refused to debate him on this unless he first debated the evidence there is for evolution with you- which he had alreay refused to do

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  17. Dear Ari
    Thank you for your answer.
    I asked the source for the 4 paragraphs you wrote on October 7, 2010 8:05 PM, now you are giving a source just for 2.
    Even in these 2 sources you are providing, if you compare how you described things and the text and the context of the sources you are presenting, you will see that you are misrepresenting the issue.
    Isaac Betech

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  18. Dr. Betech,

    I don't beleive that to be the case. I think what I wrote above gives sources to evreything I said on October 7, 2010 8:05 PM. Would you be so kind as to explain to me which points I made there that are mistaken? I don't think I understand what it is you are asking me for.

    Thank you,
    Ari

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  19. Dear Ari
    In that case let's begin with your 1st. paragraph.

    On on October 7, 2010 8:05 PM ari said...
    No he hasn't.

    I ask please explain what you meant and provide a source.
    Isaac Betech

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  20. (Mr. "Ari", the following is a comment that I want to post to R. Slifkin, but please don't forget that you are still pending to answer the previous question of Dr. Betech)

    R. Slifkin,

    Regardless if Dr. Betech wants or doesn't want to follow the order that you want for the debate, you shouldn't reject to debate your position first. Since you are the one who "wrote and published" the books, it is in your responsibility to be able to support what you are selling.

    If you are not brave enough to have a debate on your books, so don’t publish them!

    Even though Dr. Betech is willing to answer all your questions, you still insist that he should go first. It seems to me that you are trying to escape from debating with Dr. Betech on what you wrote in your books, pushing away the real topic of the debate.

    Is Dr. Betech really "terrified", or maybe you are the one?

    Did the Sages "erred" and the Gedolim of our generation also "erred", or maybe you are the one?

    My suggestion to you, R. Slifkin, is that instead of continuing to write in blogs, is that you should accept already the debate with Dr. Betech.

    I cannot believe that you, the writer of many books, don't have enough knowledge to defend your work.

    I cannot believe that you, with "the entire scientific establishment" in your side, are afraid of debating just with "Dr. Betech"?

    Accept the debate. Show us that we also erred, and let’s put an end to all of this. Ah?

    Now, what is your next excuse?

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  21. A live debate would be dramatic, but why is it a better venue for the free exchange of ideas and information than books and blogs?

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  22. I for one would very much appreciate a response to the issues at hand in book form. Could I solicit Rabbi Coffer and Doctor Betech to contribute to such a work? Perhaps this could be done in cooperation and under the guidance of haRav Shternbuch shlita, who has penned three volumes of "Know What to Reply" and has expressed interest in addressing these issues in the yet to be released fourth volume?

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  23. Dear Yitz,

    I am presently composing a Blog which, bi'ezras Hashem, will respond in point by point fashion to Rabbi Slifkin's 10 questions. In addition, I intend on posing 10 questions of my own on Rabbi Slifkin's model. I hope with Hashem's help to post it by tonight.

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  24. Dr Betech,

    You made it very clear that you would not debate him if the evidence we have fits better with Evolution and an ancient earth untill he debates the merits of the evidence to evolution in of itself, which you knew he would not do for the reasons he said (and I outlined here above)

    Rabbi Slifkin made it very clear in his post "The case of Dr. Issac Betech" that he would be willing to debate if the evidence we have is more in favor of the Dr's position or his own.

    From the Dr's point of view what diffrence does it make which way the debate goes unlesss he was planning on just insisting that the proofs to evolution and an ancient earth arn't irrefutable enough as Rabbi Slifkin suspected he would do?

    Dr Betech would you be so kind as to clarify which statements I am making in my post are in eror?

    Thank you,

    Ari

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  25. B"H
    Dear Ari
    Even though you did not answer my last question regarding the first paragraph:
    On October 7, 2010 8:05 PM ari said... No he hasn't.
    I am ready to share the last summary letter I sent rationalistjudaism, and was not published yet.
    If you read it carefully, maybe you will understand better my position in this debate.
    In case you are interested send me an email and B"N I will send the letter attached.
    Isaac Betech

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  26. Dr Betech,

    With all due respect I beleive I did provide a source.

    Just to be clear: are you saying that you would agree to debate Rabbi Slifkin if the evidence is more in favor of his model or yours, without debating the merit of the proofs to evolution and an old earth first?

    I will IY"H E-mail you as soon as I get a chance.

    Thank You,
    Ari

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  27. P.S.
    I couldn't get your E-mail from blogger is there another way I could get it?

    Thank You,
    Ari

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  28. B"H
    Dear Ari
    On October 7, 2010 8:05 PM you wrote 4 paragraphs, I told you that we are going one by one.
    I am asking for an explanation of what you meant on your 1st paragraph (No he hasn't. Who is he? What he hasn’t?) and a source for it.
    You keep speaking about the 2nd paragraph, and skipping the first.
    I hope that now I have explained myself, otherwise, please let me know.
    Isaac Betech

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  29. Dr Betech,

    Sorry I wasn't clear enough.

    He= you
    Hasn't= agreed to debate Rabbi Slifkin

    I then explain in my second paragraph what I meant by that.

    Also if you would be so kind as to answer the following questions for clarity's sake I would greatly appreciate it.

    1.)

    Are you saying that the evidence we have supports your theory that the Earth (and universe) is less then 6000 years old and species never have evolved. Or are you saying that the evidence we have doesn't make it impossible for the earth to be less then 6000 years old and that species never Evolved?


    2.)
    From the your point of view what diffrence does it make if you debate the way Rabbi Slifkin wants to unless you were planning on just insisting that the proofs to evolution and an ancient earth arn't irrefutable enough as Rabbi Slifkin suspected you would do?

    Thank You,
    Ari

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  30. B"H
    Dear Ari
    Thank you for your answer, that clarifies the misunderstanding.
    Let’s continue, by now, just with the same point.
    You say that Isaac Betech did not agree to debate Rabbi Slifkin.
    This interchange of communication now is close to 4 weeks, so let me summarize up today.
    I think that I have accepted every challenge and counterproposal that NS presented to me. Still NS has refused repeatedly to accept my original invitation to debate on evolution.
    If I am missing something, please remind me.
    Isaac Betech

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  31. Dr Betech,

    I think you are missing the part were you refused to debate if the evidence we have is more in favor of your model, unless Rabbi Slifkin debated the strengths to the evidence of evolution in of themsleves, or said that there is no evidence whatsoever to common ancestory or evolution. Which you already knew he wouldn't do for reasons he made clear and I outlined here.

    Also if you would be so kind as to answer the questions I posed in my last post I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank You,
    Ari

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  32. B"H
    Dear Ari
    The reasons why evolution must be the first debate are detailed in my summary letter (the first version was published in a commentary thread of rationalistjudaism).
    If you want the updated version send me an email to: isaacb@tovnet.com

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