Friday, October 22, 2010

Latest developments: R. Slifkin’s refusal to debate

This is a brief update as readers are probably familiar with some of the details of this issue (also summarized in the attached letter).
On the extended series of posts and comment threads, NS presented 12 reasons/excuses for not debating the scientific validity of the evolution of the species. Those reasons were already analyzed in the summary letter; nevertheless NS has not accepted to debate.
NS wrote that should I send new comments inviting him to debate or to answer my summary letter, he is not going to post them. He also wrote he is not going to allow me to use his forum to elaborate on the evidence supporting or refuting the evolution of the species. In fact he did not publish my last answers regarding these issues although he continued publishing other bloggers questioning me on this subject. NS has repeatedly refused to answer my summary letter. Recently he published his own summary. So I wrote to him:
“I read your summary letter. Again you are misrepresenting my position (and even your position). Are you ready to discuss your summary letter point by point?”
He refused to discuss its contents. I am still willing to discuss in an intellectual, multimedia (sources on screen), respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum with NS or a representative (Jewish or not) of his choice, on any scientific issue relevant to his 5 controversial books, i.e.
  1. Creation of the universe (Big Bang Cosmology).
  2. Chemical evolution (increasingly complex elements, molecules and compounds developed from the simpler chemical elements that were created in the Big Bang).
  3. The age of the universe.
  4. Biological evolution (of the species).
  5. “Dr. Betech's own model of recent special creation” (as NS named it).
  6. The accuracy of science-related statements made by Chaza”l.
  7. After the debate on the scientific issues will be concluded, I am also ready to debate the validity of the theological sources presented by NS on these issues.
At the end of Masechet Sotah we have a description of the pre-messianic times, including the prophetic statement “vehaemet tihye neederet” (the Truth will be absent). Shenizke bekarov lebiat Goel Tzedek berachamim.

52 comments:

  1. Dr. Betech, if your evidence is the same as that presented on dozen of Christian creationist sites on the internet, then there's no point in you debating it with R. Slifkin. Its been done way too many times already by people much more qualified than either of you.

    All this posturing you're doing just comes off as an attempt to score PR points. YOU, sir, are the one supporting the ban of a book, not R. Slifkin. Write your own book and sell a lot of copies. Then you might be worth R. Slifkin's time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Rafi
    I do not know the Christian creationist sites on the internet you quote. I analyze with a team of MD’s (geneticists) the “proofs” my audience try to present in favor of the evolution.
    Meanwhile no proof has proved to be a proof.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This should get you started.

    Also, please explain why you feel justified accusing R. Slifkin of obscurantism when it is YOU who are supporting the ban on a book.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rafi -

    Dr. Betech wrote: I do not know the Christian creationist sites on the internet you quote. I analyze with a team of MD’s (geneticists) the “proofs” my audience try to present in favor of the evolution.

    To which you responded: This should get you started.

    I think it is quite clear that this was not Dr. Betech’s point. He doesn’t need you to supply him with creationist sites. He is trying to convey to you that his analysis of evolutionary claims is based on solid scientific foundations. One of the primary mechanisms of evolution is random mutation. In order to assess the claims of evolutionists, a thorough knowledge of genetics is required. Dr. Betech is well versed in the field and, as per his claim, assesses the evidence with a team of geneticists.

    Trying to downplay the validity of his findings by aligning him with Christian creationists is unwarranted, to say the least.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Rafi -

    It is not my intention to get involved in this thread but I couldn't help responding to the first part of your comment before. Ditto for the second half of your comment as follows:

    You wrote: Also, please explain why you feel justified accusing R. Slifkin of obscurantism when it is YOU who are supporting the ban on a book.

    For exactly this reason! Rabbi Slifkin's books obscure the reality of maaseh bereishis, as opposed to elucidating it. By the time you're finished reading his books you are convinced that maaseh bereishis is a spiritual fairy tale and the phenomena of our word in no way testify to their Creator. Yet Rabbi Slifkin, with admittedly no real evidence (see #2), would like his readers to believe that this approach somehow fits in with our Torah. This is obscurantism if I ever saw it...

    ReplyDelete
  6. In order to assess the claims of evolutionists, a thorough knowledge of genetics is required. Dr. Betech is well versed in the field...

    Absolutely! As well as a thorough knowledge of geology, paleontology, and morphology. And in order to assess the claims of scientists regarding an ancient universe, one would also need a thorough knowledge of physics, geology, archeology, etc. Is Dr. Betech well versed in all these fields? If so, he must be one of the most brilliant scientists to have ever lived! It's strange that nobody outside of Mexico seems to have heard of him...

    and, as per his claim, assesses the evidence with a team of geneticists.

    What about teams of geologists, paleontologists, physicists, and archeologists?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yet Rabbi Slifkin, with admittedly no real evidence (see #2)

    It's odd that you keep quoting from "the Science in Torah", when in "the Challenge of Creation" R. Slifkin makes it clear that he has since studied the topic more carefully and his views have developed, and that he considers the evidence for common ancestry to be real and overwhelming.

    I know a famous Rabbi who insists that we should follow the Torah for various logical reasons. He is a baal teshuvah. Do you think that it's legitimate to criticize him as a hypocrite by quoting his views from before he was religious and using that to "prove" that he himself doesn't consider Judaism to be true?

    ReplyDelete
  8. B"H
    Dear Yissacher
    Please tell Natan, that if he wants, we may include in the protocol of the debate that he can bring 5 consultants, experts in any field he wants.
    The consultants will be allowed to provide him information which Natan will present.
    In that case, I would consider doing so as well.
    Isaac Betech

    ReplyDelete
  9. B"H
    Dear Yissacher
    You wrote:
    It's odd that you keep quoting from "the Science in Torah", when in "the Challenge of Creation" R. Slifkin makes it clear that he has since studied the topic more carefully and his views have developed, and that he considers the evidence for common ancestry to be real and overwhelming.

    IB
    Please provide page numbers on CoC (2006 edition)

    ReplyDelete
  10. B"H
    Dear Yissacher
    You wrote:
    I know a famous Rabbi who insists that we should follow the Torah for various logical reasons. He is a baal teshuvah. Do you think that it's legitimate to criticize him as a hypocrite by quoting his views from before he was religious and using that to "prove" that he himself doesn't consider Judaism to be true?

    IB
    That famous Rabbi publicly admits that he was wrong before he was religious?
    Isaac Betech

    ReplyDelete
  11. Absolutely! As well as a thorough knowledge of geology, paleontology, and morphology. And in order to assess the claims of scientists regarding an ancient universe, one would also need a thorough knowledge of physics, geology, archeology, etc. Is Dr. Betech well versed in all these fields?

    This comment demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding in the methodology of science. When it comes to the facts, yes, we rely on scientists to report them accurately. We rely on paleontologists to report the status of fossil finds, geologists to report the status of sedimentary layers, archeologists to report the status of ancient ruins etc. But when it comes to their interpretations of the facts, any intelligent, well informed, educated layman has the right to question them and when it comes to something as crucial as maaseh bereishis, indeed, the obligation to critically analyze their conclusions.

    Dr. Betech is a scientist who has studied morphology and genetics extensively. Dr. Ostroff has an extensive background in physics and mathematics and is an expert in information systems. I myself have studied geology and paleontology at length (although I possess no degrees). Collectively we cover all the sciences you mention. After extensive research we have concluded (independently mind you) that there is no hard evidence supporting evolution. Our conclusions are based on the facts as presented by the scientists themselves. We don’t make up facts. Furthermore, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of reputable scientists, all experts in their fields, who question evolution’s ability to account for the amazing diversity of life on earth and, thanks to the efforts of the Discovery Institute, the list is only getting bigger.

    If you wish to understand, truly understand, the issues involved, you must study the science. Stop being overwhelmed by paleontologists and physicists and study the science! If you want your opinion to carry any weight in this matter, it must be informed by extensive research in the relevant scientific fields. It is a waste of time for a person like Dr. Betech to respond to comments like It's strange that nobody outside of Mexico seems to have heard of him...

    Incidentally, just because you haven’t heard of him does not mean others have not heard of him. In fact, Rabbi Slifkin himself quotes Dr. Betech as an expert in one of his books!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yissacher -

    It's odd that you keep quoting from "the Science in Torah", when in "the Challenge of Creation" R. Slifkin makes it clear that he has since studied the topic more carefully and his views have developed, and that he considers the evidence for common ancestry to be real and overwhelming.

    Chapter and verse my friend, chapter and verse. Where does Rabbi Slifkin say that "now" he finally considers common ancestry convincing whereas in his previous book he didn't?

    I'll tell you what. Alow me to supply you with the mareh mikomos. In my original blog entry, I highlighted two main lines of evidence that Rabbi Slifkin admitted were not really evidence. The first was homology, the second the fossil evidence. In Challenge, he essentially re-states the exact same problems, just not as extensively as in the original. The treatment of Homology can be found on page 258 (2006 edition, I don't have the newer one although I believe it is available online) and his treatment of the fossil record can be found on page 259-260. Would it be too much to request that you actually read what he says before commenting?

    You write: R. Slifkin makes it clear that he has since studied the topic more carefully and his views have developed, and that he considers the evidence for common ancestry to be real and overwhelming

    I find this comment highly curious. When it comes to accepting the conclusions of a Rabbi - with no scientific degrees - regarding the evidence for evolution, you seem to be fully confident in his "careful study" of the scientific evidence. But if Dr. Betech dares to take issue with his conclusions, you require him to be the most "brilliant scientist" in the world!

    This double standard is patently inequitable.

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  13. I wouldn't remotely rely upon R. Slifkin for scientific conclusions regarding evolution. My point was only regarding what R. Slifkin's own views are, and that it is unreasonable to cite objections from his earlier views that he has since clearly modified.

    ReplyDelete
  14. When it comes to the facts, yes, we rely on scientists to report them accurately... But when it comes to their interpretations of the facts, any intelligent, well informed, educated layman has the right to question them.

    Really? Without any training, and even when you are going against every trained expert, including those with no anti-religious bias?

    Does this apply to Torah also? If you have all the facts - say, the Bar-Ilan database - can you pasken shaylos, even without training, and even when your conclusions are disputed by every single Orthodox rabbi?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beis Shammai says "say little and do much"

    For the record here, let us all agree that RNS is a coward and charlatan - OK?

    What a shame that we will never benefit from Dr. Betech's elucidations on this issue. I hope that Dr. Betech is clear with this. Many good Jews are walking around with false ideas fostered upon them by the secular science community. Dr. Betech has the cure for this sickness, yet refuses to dispense the medication because RNS won't allow him to do so!

    Dr. Betech - I accuse you of being an accessory to spiritual murder by allowing RNS to manipulate you into silence.

    On behalf of the myriads of distressed yidden in the world, we anxiously await your substantive reply.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yissacher -

    Really? Without any training.

    No. I said "any intelligent, well informed, educated layman". Once the hard facts are revealed to an inteligent, well-informed individual, he certainly has the right to question scientist's conclusions based on these facts. And if the responses are not in accordance with the facts, he'd have to be an idiot to accept them just becasue an "expert" claims they are true...

    including those with no anti-religious bias?

    For the record, all the top scientists, the movers and shakers in academia and media, those who populate the who's who list at the National Academy of Science and are responsible for informing government regarding scientific policy; ALL of them are atheists!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yitz -

    What a shame that we will never benefit from Dr. Betech's elucidations on this issue. I hope that Dr. Betech is clear with this. Many good Jews are walking around with false ideas fostered upon them by the secular science community. Dr. Betech has the cure for this sickness, yet refuses to dispense the medication because RNS won't allow him to do so!

    Dr. Betech has quite a following in his country and is doing whatever he can to disseminate yahadus there. But he's not a fool. He understands his language limitations and knows that Rabbi Slifkin will out-talk him in an English written online forum. That's why he proposes a neutral and professional venue.

    I'll bet Rabbi Slifkin wouldn't agree to debate Dr. Betech in Spanish, even regarding Dr. Betech's mode of creation!

    Lets' get real Yitz...

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. He understands his language limitations and knows that Rabbi Slifkin will out-talk him in an English written online forum. That's why he proposes a neutral and professional venue.

    No comprendo, amigo! Dr. Betech's proposed venue (that RNS declined) would anyway be in English, and a live verbal debate - no? But he can't publish a written paper? Could I solicit the Doctor to publish it in Spanish?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lets' get real Yitz...

    I'm biting my tongue, Rabbi!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yitz -

    No comprendo, amigo! Dr. Betech's proposed venue (that RNS declined) would anyway be in English, and a live verbal debate - no? But he can't publish a written paper? Could I solicit the Doctor to publish it in Spanish?

    You could try. But I don't know that Dr. Betech is an author per se. He has offered to debate Rabbi Slifkin in person, that's all. He hasn't committed himself to write books or articles on his views, especially not in English.

    And yes, the debate would be in English. But in a protocolized, neutral, professional venue, accommodations are made by the moderator for those with language limitations.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yitz -

    I'm biting my tongue, Rabbi!

    All I meant was that we should not put unfair requirements on Dr. Betech.

    Notwithstanding, your self-control is admirable. You're a better man than me...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Once the hard facts are revealed to an inteligent, well-informed individual, he certainly has the right to question scientist's conclusions based on these facts.

    You've got the right to do whatever you want. Nobody, including R. Slifkin, has said that you MUST accept evolution. The only people telling others what they MUST believe are you guys.

    And if the responses are not in accordance with the facts, he'd have to be an idiot to accept them just becasue an "expert" claims they are true...

    Right. Just as we'd be idiots to accept the conclusions of clearly biased non-professionals over professionals.

    It's not about what people have the right to believe. It's a matter of whether they have a right to demand that others take them seriously, and accept what they say.

    For the record, all the top scientists, the movers and shakers in academia and media, those who populate the who's who list at the National Academy of Science and are responsible for informing government regarding scientific policy; ALL of them are atheists!

    Maybe. But there's certainly many evolutionists who are not atheists. On the other hand, there is not a single anti-evolutionist who does not also believe that Genesis is the word of God.

    Incidentally, I noticed that you didn't reply to my question about whether your criterion for being taken seriously in something also apply to paskening halachos.

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  24. I don't know that Dr. Betech is an author per se. He has offered to debate Rabbi Slifkin in person, that's all. He hasn't committed himself to write books or articles on his views, especially not in English.

    Well, let him write them in Spanish! They can always be translated. If he is capable of proving evolution false even to scientists, as he claims, and he believes that this is spiritually essential for the Jewish People, why doesn't he write a book that does this? If he can conclusively disprove evolution, the Christians would certainly pay to get it translated into English - they've been desperately trying to disprove evolution for years, without success.

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  25. Well, let him write them in Spanish!

    This has been asked and answered already.

    (1) He understands his language limitations and knows that Rabbi Slifkin will out-talk him in an English written online forum.

    (2) He is only prepared to present his ideas in a live protocolized in English.

    (3) He hasn't committed himself to write books or articles on his views (in any language).

    -------------

    Here is a new suggestion - I think that YSO and SC know RNS's arguments very well. Perhaps they could play "devil's advocate" and argue RNS's position in place of RNS. This will allow Dr. Betech to clearly get his message across in his mandatory chosen venue?

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  26. Yitz, are you kidding? YSO and SC constantly distort RNS' positions. Look at the comment threads on the previous posts.

    But here's a new idea: If Dr. Betech can speak but not write (for some unfathomable reason), why can't he just make a video of a monologue?

    ReplyDelete
  27. YSO and SC constantly distort RNS' positions

    Could be, but it is not important. Dr. Betech has vitally important ideas and information to share, and I was just trying to brainstorm for the benefit of yidden worldwide how to create a venue that will facilitate extricating this from him. RNS seems to be thwarting the cause, so I was looking for a workaround.

    Maybe the monologue idea will work, but it seems like he needs the challenge of a worthy debate opponent to properly communicate. Maybe you and Rafi could volunteer to stand-in as cannon fodder?

    ReplyDelete
  28. B"H
    Dear all
    I have not changed any condition of my invitation for debating with NS.
    I am inviting him to discuss in an intellectual, multimedia, respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum with NS or the representative (Jewish or not) he will choose.
    To clarify:
    It will be a face to face, live debate, in English (or Hebrew if you prefer).
    English is my third language, but B"H I have lectured in English many times.
    Isaac Betech

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dr. Betech, it's very odd that you simply ignore what people say. Are you not aware that you did not remotely address Yitz's perplexity and question?

    ReplyDelete
  30. B"H

    Yitz said...
    Beis Shammai says "say little and do much"

    IB:
    This is not the place to analyze if I have done much or not.

    Yitz said...
    For the record here, let us all agree that RNS is a coward and charlatan - OK?

    IB:
    Is this your conclusion?

    Yitz said...
    What a shame that we will never benefit from Dr. Betech's elucidations on this issue. I hope that Dr. Betech is clear with this. Many good Jews are walking around with false ideas fostered upon them by the secular science community. Dr. Betech has the cure for this sickness, yet refuses to dispense the medication because RNS won't allow him to do so!

    IB:
    Thank you for your thought provoking comment.
    My busy multifaceted schedule includes among others, activities for kiruv rechokim and also for kiruv kerobim.
    I am ready to invest time in a public debate with NS (for kiruv kerobim). If he still refuses, as per your request, I am proposing an alternative.
    Please organize a weekend seminar or at least a Yom iyun (one-day seminar) for around 100 intelligent, intellectual people, and B”H all these subjects will be presented in multimedia (sources on screen), respectful, interactive lectures.

    ReplyDelete
  31. How do we determine their intelligence level? I for one wouldn't know a scientific journal from time magazine.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Random comment -

    Oldest writing is found to be 5500 years old. Not bad, eh!

    The thing that bugs me is that they use carbon dating to determine this date, and we have already established that carbon dating is unreliable. So we really don't know how old it is?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Rabbi Coffer, I am still waiting for an answer to my question. Here it is again:

    You said "When it comes to the facts, yes, we rely on scientists to report them accurately... But when it comes to their interpretations of the facts, any intelligent, well informed, educated layman has the right to question them."

    Does this apply to Torah also? If you have all the facts - say, the Bar-Ilan database - can you pasken shaylos, even without training, and even when your conclusions are disputed by every single Orthodox rabbi?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Dear Yitz

    You wrote:
    How do we determine their intelligence level?

    IB:
    For this purpose it is enough if you think they are.

    ReplyDelete
  35. SC:

    Trying to downplay the validity of his findings by aligning him with Christian creationists is unwarranted, to say the least.

    That wasn't my point at all. My point was that any scientific debate with R. Slifkin regarding creation would be superfluous.

    Yet Rabbi Slifkin, with admittedly no real evidence (see #2), would like his readers to believe that this approach somehow fits in with our Torah. This is obscurantism if I ever saw it...

    Merriam-Webster: obscurantism: 1 : opposition to the spread of knowledge : a policy of withholding knowledge from the general public 2 a : a style (as in literature or art) characterized by deliberate vagueness or abstruseness b : an act or instance of obscurantism

    R. Slifkin wrote a book. The book is very honest about what he feels is backed by evidence and what is less so, which ideas are well supported in Chazal and which are less so. He maintains a website with abundant sources related to the controversy surrounding his book, including many letters and essays that tear him to shreds. He even wrote an essay defending his opponents!

    Dr. Betech actively opposes the availability of the book. He postures about a debate that will never happen, keeping his views own secret in the meantime.

    As regards "opposition to the spread of knowledge," these two men appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    But when it comes to their interpretations of the facts, any intelligent, well informed, educated layman has the right to question them and when it comes to something as crucial as maaseh bereishis, indeed, the obligation to critically analyze their conclusions.

    I personally have devoted time to investigating whether creationists have solid ground to question the antiquity of the world. If I thought they did, I would be very hesitant to contradict Hazal on the literal nature of Bereshit. But I have concluded that they don't. Instead I have been convinced by R. Aryeh Kaplan's conclusion that young earth creationism is a "dangerous and anti-Torah" position for an Orthodox Jew to take.

    ReplyDelete
  36. As regards "opposition to the spread of knowledge," these two men appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    Rafi, good point. Obscurantism has a meaning, and these guys are it. Note too that in contrast to R. Slifkin's website, which lists documents written by both sides, on the resources section of this website they only post anti-evolution material.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Rafi said
    Also, please explain why you feel justified accusing R. Slifkin of obscurantism when it is YOU who are supporting the ban on a book.
    October 22, 2010 2:36 PM

    Rafi said
    Merriam-Webster: obscurantism: 1: opposition to the spread of knowledge : a policy of withholding knowledge from the general public
    October 25, 2010 1:55 PM

    IB
    Dear Rafi
    Publicly declaring that a mistaken book is a mistake, is obscurantism?

    ReplyDelete
  38. No, and that's not what Rafi claimed.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Yissacher -
    Rabbi Coffer, I am still waiting for an answer to my question. Here it is again:

    You said "When it comes to the facts, yes, we rely on scientists to report them accurately... But when it comes to their interpretations of the facts, any intelligent, well informed, educated layman has the right to question them."

    Does this apply to Torah also?


    Of course. It applies to anything. If you are a well-informed ben Torah and your Rav paskens a sha'ala, you have the right to ask him to provide you his source material and his line of reasoning.

    But unlike science, you are obligated to follow a psak halacha of the majority of torah sages even if you disagree with them because one of the Torah laws is that the majority opinion actually establishes the law.

    Incidentally, possessing the Bar-Ilan database doesn't make one a well-informed educated ben Torah.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Dr. Betech, a month ago R. Slifkin introduced you as follows:

    Dr. Isaac Betech is a pediatrician in Mexico. ... By his own admission, he was instrumental in getting several Gedolim to sign a letter of condemnation against my books. According to someone in Mexico who wants to translate my books into Spanish, he would be unable to distribute them in bookstores due to Dr. Betech's influential opposition.

    Are either of these claims untrue? If they are, I suggest you let R. Slifkin know so he can publish a correction.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Rafi wrote:
    Are either of these claims untrue? If they are, I suggest you let R. Slifkin know so he can publish a correction.

    IB:
    Do you know o do you suppose that he is ready to publish a correction on every untrue claim, every ambiguous description and every misrepresentation of my position (and even of his position) he has published in the last 6 weeks?

    ReplyDelete
  42. Do you deny the claims or not?

    If such claims were made about me, I would strongly protest them whether or not I expected my opponent to retract them.

    Please stop obfuscating and give a direct answer. This is why R. Slifkin isn't interested in debating.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Rafi
    Please answer my last 2 questions and then I will answer your question.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Really? Fine:

    1) Calling a book a mistake may or may not qualify as obscurantism, depending on context.

    2) R. Slifkin may or may not retract any particular statement he has made, depending on whether you can convince him that a statement needs to be retracted.

    I am giving you a chance to directly address the two insinuations R. Slifkin made against you regarding the distribution of his books. If you defer the issue a third time, I will assume that you cannot deny the claims. If such claims were made about me I would have protested as soon as I heard them.

    ReplyDelete
  45. B”H
    Dear Rafi.
    Thank you for your kind answer.

    1. Again you are not answering my question. The question is:
    Publicly declaring that a mistaken book is a mistake, is obscurantism?

    2. Again you are disregarding the reality. If you read what was published in rationalist Judaism in the last 6 weeks, you will be able to count how many times NS refused explicitly to analyze my charges of distortions and misrepresentations.

    3. Thank you for giving me a chance.
    This issue was already addressed on Sept. 16th when I wrote:

    a)
    IB 16/Sept.’10
    Your discovery is not so precise. I am related to the “later letters” against your books signed by some Gedolim a few months later than the original 23 signatures.
    I did a very simple task. I presented to the Gedolim what you wrote about a certain scientific issue and also presented them documented facts against what you wrote.
    The Gedolim studied the issue a few days and they signed the letters that everyone knows.

    b) Regarding what NS wrote:
    According to someone in Mexico who wants to translate my books into Spanish, he would be unable to distribute them in bookstores due to Dr. Betech's influential opposition.

    Before I read it in rationalist Judaism, I have never heard about that.

    4. Now please answer my question:
    Publicly declaring that a mistaken book is a mistake, is obscurantism?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Now please answer my question: Publicly declaring that a mistaken book is a mistake, is obscurantism?

    I said it depends on context. If, behind the scenes, you present a book as mistaken to gedolim, with the intention of producing a letter of condemnation in an effort to suppress the book, then yes, that is an act of obscurantism. If you publish a detailed critique of a book in a scholarly journal for all to read and judge, then no, that is the opposite of obscurantism.

    In sum, you are accused of obscurantism for the following reasons:

    1) Working behind the scenes to align gedolim against a legitimate, widely-held hashkafa.

    2) Allegedly opposing the distribution of a Spanish translation of R. Slifkin's book (which, after prodding you several times, you finally deny).

    3) Hiding your own views on creationism until you get a debate on your own terms.

    4) Endless posturing about a debate that will never happen, meanwhile avoiding substantive issues.

    5) Launching a PR campaign presenting your opponent as afraid to debate, meanwhile avoiding substantive issues.

    6) Endlessly avoiding questions and ignoring R. Slifkin's responses to your questions in the comments on his blog.

    Meanwhile, you accuse R. Slifkin of distorting the conversation on his blog. But your accusations don't impress me, at least not in a way favorable to you.

    ReplyDelete
  47. B”H
    Dear Rafi.

    Rafi said...
    Now please answer my question: Publicly declaring that a mistaken book is a mistake, is obscurantism?

    I said it depends on context. If, behind the scenes, you present a book as mistaken to gedolim, with the intention of producing a letter of condemnation in an effort to suppress the book, then yes, that is an act of obscurantism. If you publish a detailed critique of a book in a scholarly journal for all to read and judge, then no, that is the opposite of obscurantism.

    IB:
    I do not work behind the scenes. If you have interest in arriving at honest conclusions, please read again what I published in rationalist Judaism in the last 6 weeks.
    If you know an article published in a scholarly journal which proofs evolution of the species, please provide the source for all to read and judge, if you refrain, it can be called obscurantism.

    Rafi said
    1) Working behind the scenes to align gedolim against a legitimate, widely-held hashkafa.

    IB:
    I do not work behind the scenes.
    If this hashkafa is legitimate or not, is point #7 in the issues I publicly agreed to discuss with NS, but he did not accept to debate.

    Rafi said
    2) Allegedly opposing the distribution of a Spanish translation of R. Slifkin's book (which, after prodding you several times, you finally deny).

    IB
    Please prove your allegation.

    Rafi said
    3) Hiding your own views on creationism until you get a debate on your own terms.

    IB
    Maybe you are not reading my answers in this comment thread. Please read them again.

    Rafi said
    4) Endless posturing about a debate that will never happen, meanwhile avoiding substantive issues.

    IB
    Ditto.

    Rafi said
    5) Launching a PR campaign presenting your opponent as afraid to debate, meanwhile avoiding substantive issues.

    IB
    Please remind me when I called him “afraid”.
    Maybe you are confused, and you just remember what NS published in his blogspot Monday, October 4, 2010 Exposing "Scientific" Anti-Evolutionists
    “That's why Dr. Betech is terrified to do it.”
    BTW what he said I am terrified to… I agree to discuss with him, but he does not accept.

    Rafi said
    6) Endlessly avoiding questions and ignoring R. Slifkin's responses to your questions in the comments on his blog.

    IB
    Instead of writing “endlessly”, please bring 3 examples.

    Rafi said
    Meanwhile, you accuse R. Slifkin of distorting the conversation on his blog. But your accusations don't impress me, at least not in a way favorable to you.

    IB
    Sorry, I am not looking to impress anyone; I am trying to present facts, and analyzing the facts presented by my ideological opponents.

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  48. Dr. Betech, how about this: IF someone were to want to distribute a Spanish translation of R. Slifkin's book in Mexico, would you oppose it? Would you attempt to publicize rabbinic condemnations and urge booksellers not to sell it?

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  49. "If you know an article published in a scholarly journal which proofs evolution of the species, please provide the source for all to read and judge, if you refrain, it can be called obscurantism."

    Dr. Betech, if you know an article published in a scholarly journal which refutes evolution of the species, please provide the source for all to read and judge, if you refrain, it can be called obscurantism.

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  50. Evolution doesn't need to be refuted, because it doesn't possess any evidence.

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  51. B”H
    Dear Yissacher,

    The question was not directed to you because on October 25, 2010 5:05 PM you have already admitted that: Publicly declaring that a mistaken book is a mistake, is not obscurantism.
    Please remind Rafi that when he will answer my 6 numbered points, not to forget that point #2 is related to the historicity of a fact.

    Now, one question for you.
    You wrote in this comment thread:
    It's odd that you keep quoting from "the Science in Torah", when in "the Challenge of Creation" R. Slifkin makes it clear that he has since studied the topic more carefully and his views have developed, and that he considers the evidence for common ancestry to be real and overwhelming.

    Could you please tell in which page I can see a basis for what you wrote:

    a)
    in "the Challenge of Creation" R. Slifkin makes it clear that he has since studied the topic more carefully

    b)
    and his views have developed,

    c)
    and that he considers the evidence for common ancestry to be real and overwhelming.

    Dear Yissacher please provide at least 3 page numbers supporting a), b) and c).

    ReplyDelete