Thursday, May 12, 2011

Books of Heresy

Ami Magazine recently highlighted the story of a ben-Torah who, nebach, lost his emunah. His wife wrote a letter to the magazine documenting the events which led to this unfortunate state of affairs. She writes as follows:

Of course I noticed the telltale signs. I watched with great concern as my kollel husband no longer resembled his peers. I inwardly cringed as books, radio, Internet replaced the Talmud, Chumash, sefarim.

Rabbi Slifkin makes the following comments:

The situation with this husband and wife is, of course, sad. But what I personally find especially painful is how some of this tragedy is so unnecessary and possibly made worse by the wife. Was it such a tragedy that he brought secular books into the home?

Apparently so! First of all, the wife was referring to a general trend of replacing Torah learning with secular books, radio and Internet. Second of all, yes, secular books are eminently capable of dragging a person off the path of emunah! The gemara in Chagiga (15b) relates that the great sage Elisha ben Avuya went off the derech because he was influenced by Greek culture (he was always whistling Greek tunes) and Greek attitudes (books of heresy).

Secular books are, for the most part, anti-Torah; they contain the attitudes of the gentile nations which are diametrically opposed to the attitude of the Torah. Even innocuous books, such as those on science, are tainted with the attitudes of the goyim. It is extremely dangerous for an innocent ben-Torah to start taking unwarranted and unsupervised excursions in the fields of gentile literature. Human beings, all human beings, are extremely impressionable and thus it is a sakana gedolah to allow oneself to be exposed to foreign ideologies. This is the most obvious lesson that can be learned from this Ami article.

(I'll bet she doesn't know that Rav Dessler studied Uncle Tom's Cabin.)

This comment was particularly distasteful to me. Rav Dessler studied secular disciplines under the close supervision of his father and his Rabbeim in yeshiva. Like the aforementioned gemara in Chagiga mentions (regarding learning from one who is tainted by heresy), it is indeed possible to “extract the kernel and discard the chaff” but only under certain circumstances. By no means can it be used as a blanket heter to read secular books indiscriminately; i.e. without any discretion or supervision.

She cried so terribly when he attended a conference on evolution? Goodness, it's not as though it was a conference on Bible criticism or atheism!

It was worse! If an innocent ben-Torah makes the tragic mistake of attending a conference on evolution, it is like attending a conference on Bible criticism and atheism combined! He would have been better off visiting a house of ill repute! Far better. A conference on evolution is populated one hundred percent by atheists, Bible critics, and every other form of human degradation. Everyone there is no doubt an avowed enemy of Hashem and His Torah. Rabbi Slifkin’s comments demonstrate that, unfortunately, he has lost any semblance of sensitivity to the dangers of being influenced by gentile attitudes.

There are many fine, frum, OrthoDOX people who attend conferences on evolution, which is not at all incompatible with Torah.

What an unfortunate attitude. There is nothing more incompatible with the Torah than evolution. Even Avodah Zara is preferable. This is not my attitude. The Rambam states that atheism is worse than Avodah Zara. And evolution is nothing but atheism dressed up in scientific garb. Any Orthodox Jew who attends conferences on evolution is taking his life in his hands. Even if he manages to hold on to his emunah, he is tainted. No less than the garbage man who reeks to high heaven even though he is cleaning out the garbage.

57 comments:

  1. "If an innocent ben-Torah makes the tragic mistake of attending a conference on evolution, it is like attending a conference on Bible criticism and atheism combined! He would have been better off visiting a house of ill repute! Far better."

    Dear R Coffer,

    I don’t believe in evolution.
    But what you write above illustrates exactly what I find so difficult in the frum world

    A warped sense of morality.

    How on earth can you say that he would have been better off visiting a house of ill repute?

    Do you think his wife would agree? Would any Jewish wife rather have their husband sleep with a prostitute rather than go to a conference on evolution, no matter how incompatible evolution is with reality?
    Although what you write is nothing compared to what others tell me.
    Someone told me that the main problem with child molestation is that it leads to spilling seed.
    Because I find these things so repulsive I am being drawn further and further away from yidishkiet

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  2. Your attitude is perplexing. Those who study modern biology, study the secrets of life. And thus they study the secrets of the Giver of life, even if they are not yet aware of it. To apply terms like human degradation to seekers of Truth, in the name of Torah, is beyond sad and beyond bad.

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  3. You totally miss Rabbi Sliflin's point. There were thousands of Ehrlicheh Bnei Torah from many many yeshivas in the US who grew up with a secular education. The more advanced and sophisticated the secular education is, when taught in a yeshiva environment, the more likely immune they'll be immune to "dangerous influences" as you so call them. You may not like that particular type of product, but Satmar doesn't like you and the Yeshiva world doesn't like Lubavitch. The point is they would easily remain in the fold. The Chareidi world will most likely implode on itself.

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  4. Rabbi Coffer said...


    Anyone who possesses a real "sense of Divine providence’, anyone who possesses a real "appreciation of the nature and role of the Torah", would not be so easily swayed by the vacuous claims of the academics, secularists and materialists. He would recognize the superiority of his traditions over those of the gentiles and laugh at their feeble attempts to undermine our Torah.


    then he says (above):

    Any Orthodox Jew who attends conferences on evolution is taking his life in his hands.

    So why not go to the conference and have a good laugh at their feeble attempts? A life-long ben-Torah, no less than a posek, cannot shrug off the feeble attempts to undermine our faith?

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  5. Hello,
    I hope to read your blog in greater detail in the future. Just an observation. I find that in these sort of discussions on the blogosphere, the discussions tend to be hijacked by two types of commentators. There are those who may visit Slifkin's blog, and simply decry him an apikores, or lambaste him for not following Daas Torah unquestioningly.

    The second type of commenter is one who completely ridicules individuals such as yourself, claiming that you are intellectually naive, foolish, perhaps even mocking the sources that you bring etc.

    The only answer seems to me to be an unwavering commitment to civility, but also a willingness to discuss specific issues, with an eye towards clarity, and transparent intellectual analyses. I think this is what you are aiming at, and I just wanted to thank you for that, but I hope that you have sufficient patience for those of us who may violate rules of civility and honesty in these discussions.

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  6. I submit that the Zohar is like the theory of evolution.

    To the wise, the theory of evolution explains so much that it must be essentially true, despite questions about the mechanisms behind evolution, and despite possible negative moral conseqences of "Darwinism." The sceptics are so much bothered by the questions, or by the possible negative consequences, that they cannot accept evolution.

    To the wise, the Zohar explains so much that it must be essentially true, despite questions about its origins, and despite possible negative consequences, such as false messianism, and superstitious or polytheistic misunderstandings. The sceptics are so much bothered by the questions, or by the possible neqative conseqences, that they cannot accept the Zohar.

    The Torah of Moshiach, as the Torah of Moshe, combines Heaven and Earth. The Torah of Moshiach will elucidate Torat HaSod as well as the sciences. Knowledge will increase, doubts will vanish, and the sceptics will stand ashamed. The wise, however, shall shine like the brightness of the firmament (Daniel 12:3).

    To complete the parallel, the Oral Torah is like an extensional book of biology that describes in great detail all forms of life.

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  7. Dovi777,

    Shalom Aleichem! Welcome to our blog and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Do you think his wife would agree? Would any Jewish wife rather have their husband sleep with a prostitute rather than go to a conference on evolution, no matter how incompatible evolution is with reality?

    Before I respond to this, let’s get something straight. I compared the attending of an evolutionary conference to the visiting of a brothel. In neither situation was the ultimate sin mentioned. It is quite possible that being present at an evolutionary conference did not immediately cause our erstwhile ben-Torah to adopt atheistic views just as a visit to a harlot does not necessarily culminate in aveira.

    Notwithstanding the aforementioned (and I hope my wife never reads this), atheism is far worse than sexual indiscretion with an unmarried woman. To deny the existence of Hashem is yei’hareg v’al ya’avor! To avail oneself of the services of a kedeisha is not. At most it is a lav. Of course I am not chs’v mitigating the wrongness of such behavior and it is obvious that anyone who indulges in such behavior is clearly destroying his neshama. But this is nothing compared to one who visits a conference on evolution and walks away with sfeikos in his emunah! Yes, his wife might still tolerate him, but what about Hashem? What about his tachlis in life? What about olam haba? There are many atheists with nice marriages but their wives won’t save them from the yom hagadol v’hanora

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  8. Moshe Rafael,

    Your attitude is perplexing. Those who study modern biology, study the secrets of life. And thus they study the secrets of the Giver of life, even if they are not yet aware of it. To apply terms like human degradation to seekers of Truth, in the name of Torah, is beyond sad and beyond bad.

    Yup, I agree. Unfortunately, evolutionists are not seekers of truth. In fact, they are not even “studiers of modern biology”. They are studiers of disproven theories about the unfolding of life which supposedly occurred billions of years ago. That doesn’t sound too modern to me…

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  9. Yitz,

    So why not go to the conference and have a good laugh at their feeble attempts?

    You wouldn’t ask that if you understood the nature of a conference on evolution. You wouldn’t visit a conference to promote avodah zara, would you? Or a conference to promote same-sex marriages?

    A life-long ben-Torah, no less than a posek, cannot shrug off the feeble attempts to undermine our faith?

    Maybe yes, maybe no. Even the Tana Elisha ben Avuya was influenced by gentile attitudes. Once a person insinuates himself into a gentile atmosphere, it is very difficult to escape its influence, no matter how great you are.

    I wrote that it should be relatively easy to reject the lies of the goyim but I should have added one caveat; only if you remain in your own surroundings. My rosh yeshiva used to warn us all the time; a ben-torah who wanders from his makom torah is like a fish out of water.

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  10. Michael,

    Shalom Aleichem,

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    I hope that you have sufficient patience for those of us who may violate rules of civility and honesty in these discussions

    Don’t worry; I’ve debated evolutionists and walked away unscathed. This categorically proves that I am able to withstand the most egregious violations of civility and honesty possible… :-)

    I hope to hear from you in the future.

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  11. Moshe Rafael,

    To the wise, the theory of evolution explains so much that it must be essentially true, despite questions about the mechanisms behind evolution,

    To the wise, the Zohar explains so much that it must be essentially true, despite questions about its origins,


    Interesting contrast. I’d like to add a third.

    To the wise, spontaneous generation explains so much that it must be essentially true despite current questions about its mechanisms.

    Actually, I have another ten thousand such contrasts but I think I’ll adjourn for now.

    Tain l’chacham v’yechkam od

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  12. Rabbi Coffer, you are batting 100! I am amazed at how civil you remain in your reasoned responses to people who are not medayak the words of your well-thought-out, Torah-based positions.

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  13. Rabbi Lampel,

    Don't be amazed. I had a good role model to emulate; you! Everyone knows that the undisputd king of civility is Rabbi Zvi Lampel. But thanks for your kind remarks...

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  14. "They are studiers of disproven theories about the unfolding of life which supposedly occurred billions of years ago."

    I suggest that you think this over. You write as a rabbi. In the name of Torah. You insult people because they, for the best of reasons, disagree with your disproven "theories." You effectively call them degraded humans. And then you guys flatter yourselves for being so civil. Funny how you agree with Rabbi Slifkin this time. In my view Rabbi Slifkin's flattery was quite misplaced.

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  15. Moshe Rafael,

    I suggest that you think this over. You write as a rabbi. In the name of Torah. You insult people because they, for the best of reasons, disagree with your disproven "theories." You effectively call them degraded humans.

    No sir. I don’t call atheists degraded humans because they disagree with me. I refer to them as degraded because atheism is the worst kind of human degradation possible. This is not my personal opinion! This is the opinion of the Torah. Rambam considers atheism even worse than avodah zara. Your problem is you’ve attended university and have been taught by professors, no doubt many of them atheists, who take a shower every day, shave, put on cologne, and come in to class looking and smelling just dandy. They say please and thank you (sometimes) and even smile once in a while. So, you just can’t get past the superficiality. These people are the worst people in the world! They deny the existence of God and stridently promote their wicked philosophy of materialism to the fresh and innocent minds of their young charges. After four years of sitting in classes in college, the student finally receives a diploma. You know what the diploma means? For the average student it means his mind is entirely corrupted and he is now qualified to go out and corrupt other people’s minds. Sure, if you’ve never heard this type of talk before, it sounds repulsive to you. But that’s not the fault of the idea. You need to retrain your mind so you can begin wrapping it around the idea that atheists, especially academic atheists, are enemies of Hashem, enemies of the Jewish people, and enemies of mankind. The National Academy of Sciences is populated by an elitist crowd of scientists who are almost entirely atheist! These are the guys who are responsible for advising our governments about the education of our children; these are the guys who hold tenured positions in all the best universities, these are the guys who develop the curriculums in public schools, and these are the guys who publicly promote their godless weltanschauung and foist it upon the unsuspecting public in the name of science! Now you know where all your tax dollars are going.

    You write that

    You insult people because they, for the best of reasons, disagree with your disproven "theories."

    but you have no idea what you are talking about. You haven’t studied the philosophy of science and do not have a real grasp of the underpinnings of the scientific establishment. There are plenty of reasons to doubt evolution! The evolutionists do not have the best of reasons to support their theories. They have one reason and one reason alone; they are materialists, plain and simple. They need a material cause in order to explain the presence of the endless design apparent in the phenomena of life. They can’t entertain design theory because that would mean that they need to entertain the possibility of God and that’s just impossible for them to do. And therefore, despite the reasons for doubting evolution, they continue to support it nonetheless. You think these are my words? No, they’re not. They are the words of one of today’s foremost evolutionists, Richard Lewontin of Harvard University. I think he knows a little more than you about what animates evolutionists. I’ve quoted him many times and this is what he writes: (my highlights)

    Continued in next comment…

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  16. Continued from previous comment…

    QUOTE: “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, FOR WE CANNOT ALLOW A DIVINE FOOT IN THE DOOR. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.” END QUOTE

    This then is what animates the scientific establishment. Of course, not all scientists are the same and not all fields of science are the same. But in the various fields of historical-based sciences, this philosophy of materialism is the very foundation of the discipline. You need to open up your eyes my friend and see the truth. Instead of worrying about me insulting the attendees at conference for evolution, perhaps you should focus your energies on studying books and listening to shiurim which deal properly with the Torah hashkafa on these inyanim. The only author who deals with evolution, materialism, and the umos haolam properly is Rav Avigdor Miller. I’ve never seen any other books which tell it the way it is. Do yourself a favor; buy his books and shiurim and become a new (and enlightened) man!

    You wrote: And then you guys flatter yourselves for being so civil.

    I never even referred to myself as civil, much less flatter myself.

    You wrote: Funny how you agree with Rabbi Slifkin this time

    I didn’t agree with him anywhere! I simply thanked him for saying nice things about me. That’s what people with derech eretz do when they are complimented.

    You know Moshe Rafael, it’s kind of silly of you to misquote me in public because readers can just check what you’re saying and then you look foolish. If you have it out for me, that’s fine. If you want to insult me, that’s also fine. But for your own good, don’t misquote me; that’s just plain foolhardy…

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  17. "A conference on evolution is populated one hundred percent by atheists, Bible critics, and every other form of human degradation."

    Indeed, readers can just check, but let me help a little. You give the "evolutionist" a choice. He either is an atheist, or a Bible critic, or he can be every other form of human degredation. Because of "other" he is always, one hundred percent sure, a form of human degradation, as is the bible critic, and the atheist.

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  18. I read one book of Rabbi Miller, though I did not reach the end. It was rubbish.

    I have worked for decennia in the accademia and industrial labs of academic kinds. Among the hard sciences, I have almost never encountered someone with an atheist agenda. I know tens of frum people working in these fields. They all believe in an ancient Universe and in evolution of life. That is because the evidence is overwhelming. If you wish to disagree, present a scientific argumenation. Citing people does not play a role in scientific argumention.

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  19. "And then you guys flatter yourselves"

    Note the plural.

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  20. |but you have no idea what you are talking about. You haven’t studied the philosophy of science and do not have a real grasp of the underpinnings of the scientific establishment."

    You are being presumptuous. You have no idea what I have studied, and how many discussion I have had with this world's philosophers of science. Just because I disagree with you, I have no real grasp. Right?

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  21. "Your problem is you’ve attended university and have been taught by professors, no doubt many of them atheists, who take a shower every day, shave, put on cologne, and come in to class looking and smelling just dandy. They say please and thank you (sometimes) and even smile once in a while. So, you just can’t get past the superficiality. These people are the worst people in the world!"

    There we go again, going from bad to worse. I am among these worst people in the world which you describe, dear Rabbi. I have been teaching theoretical physics for years. Strange, my memories of that time are very different from your descriptions.

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  22. Moshe Rafael,

    I have no desire to engage you in a battle of wits. It’s beneath both our dignities. I’ll pick and choose whatever I believe to be substantive from your past five comments and respond.

    Indeed, readers can just check, but let me help a little. You give the "evolutionist" a choice. He either is an atheist, or a Bible critic, or he can be every other form of human degredation. Because of "other" he is always, one hundred percent sure, a form of human degradation, as is the bible critic, and the atheist.

    Indeed, readers can check. Once again you’ve misquoted me. I give the attendees at a conference on evolution a “choice”. A conference on evolution is another way of saying a conference on materialist philosophy. The reason I mentioned Bible critics and atheists is because Rabbi Slifkin mentioned them. By “every other form of human degradation”, I mean other forms of denying God and subscribing to materialist philosophies. Rabbi Slifkin is an evolutionist but I would never refer to him as a degraded person. All this is clearly obvious to an unbiased reader of my post. Unfortunately it would seem that you approach my writings with a bit of a chip on your shoulder which then leads you to misconstrue my words.

    I read one book of Rabbi Miller, though I did not reach the end. It was rubbish.

    If this is truly your opinion, I feel sorry for you. You do not even begin to fathom how much you are missing in your life.

    I know tens of frum people working in these fields. They all believe in an ancient Universe and in evolution of life. That is because the evidence is overwhelming. If you wish to disagree, present a scientific argumenation.

    I’ve been down this road with you before. I’ve presented my scientific argumentation to you at length in the comments to this post. If I recall correctly, I made an argument from the fossil evidence which you were unable to refute and you made an argument from tidal locking which I did refute. I don’t have the time or patience to engage you in debate again. Just review our original debate. If you feel you have something to add, be my guest.

    Citing people does not play a role in scientific argumention

    I noticed that about you in our last debate. We were debating science, ostensibly at least, but whereas I cited several scientific sources in the published scientific literature to support my position, you chose to cite an entirely irrelevant Tikunei Zohar. I’m not sure what your personal parameters for scientific debate encompass but I think it is pretty widely accepted that if your opponent challenges you, you must cite recognized experts in the field to support the fundamental premises of your argument. I highly doubt the Zohar counts as a proof text.

    Just because I disagree with you, I have no real grasp. Right?

    Wrong. It’s because you argue with the experts in the field. Lewontin is a bigger expert in evolution and genetics than you. He is also far more sophisticated than you when it comes to an understanding of the fundamental attitudes which animate the academic establishment’s elite class of scientists.

    I am among these worst people in the world which you describe, dear Rabbi.

    No, you’re not. You believe in God, and (presumably) are a shomer torah u’mitzvos. That makes you one of the best people in the world. If I had to describe you, I would use exactly the same adjective I used to describe our good friend Rabbi Slifkin; confused. But one word of advice; stay away from conferences on evolution. They’re populated by atheists, Bible critics and every other form of human degradation. You’ll ruin your reputation if you attend these conferences with any frequency. Not to mention your mind…

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  23. I remember having writing a huge amount of text in a couple of days back then. If I didn't relate to one of your points it is not because I could not refute it. I must have overlooked it. Your points are not so hard to refute...

    If you wish restate what in your view I could not refute, I will yet relate to it. Please be specific, though. Do not mention five points so that you can later claim about one of them that I could not refute it.

    Scientific agurmentation goes by evidence. Philosophy of science, not a science in itself, goes to a degree by quoting people's verbalizations. Because it is a field of opinion, not of science. If you wish to disprove (aspects of) evolution you need to come up with scientific argumentation. A philosophy-of-science argument will not do. Never was any scientific proposition disproven by a philiospher of science. Very rarely has a philosopher of science contributed something substantial to science. Therefore, do not expect me to reply to your quotes.

    If you did not understand the reason for my quote of Tikkunei HaZohar back then, I suggest you read it again. It tells you that the Universe is old.

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  24. As the subject fits the Omer period, I will elaborate on the Tikkunei HaZohar. Here is the text and my translation:

    בראשית דאיהו שבת בראשית דהא שבע שבתות אינון ולכל חד אית ליה שית ימי המעשה וכל יומא דקודשא בריך הוא הוא אלף שנים הדא הוא דכתיב כי אלף שנים בעיניך וכו' ושבת בראשית שית יומין דיליה אינון אלפים תהו שני אלפים תורה שני אלפים ימות המשיח.

    The word "Bereishit" hints at "Shabbat Bereishit." Now, there are seven Shabbatot and every one of them has six working days. Every day of HaKadosh Baruch Hu is a thousand years, as is written: "A thousand years in your eyes [is like yesterday (Tehilim 90:4)]." The six [working] days of Shabbat Bereishit are 2000 [years] of Tohu, 2000 [years] of Torah, and 2000 [years] of Moshiach.

    Until here the translation. The seven Shabbatot hint at the seven weeks of the Omer period. Shabbat Bereishit, then, is like day 49 of the Omer period, the Shabbat of the last of the seven weeks. The seventh week is holy and elevated above the 42 preceding days, just like the seventh day of every week is holy and elevated above the preceding six days.

    The 49 days of the counting of the Omer prepare for Shavuot. Likewise, the first 42 days prepare for the holy seventh week. Before the 42 preparational days are 4 more preparational days, between the 10th of Nissan and Pesach. Altogether, therefore, there are 46 days of preparation for the seventh week, separated by Pesach into 4 and 42 days. The period of four days and the six Omer weeks that follow it represent the seven primordial kings (of Edom) that died. I hope you know the concept. The seventh week represents the eigth king. The old Mekubalim explain that during the days of preparation the principle "one day is a thousand years" applies twice, recursively as it were. That is, the 46 days are really 46000 years, and each of the days of these years is again a thousand years. The last week corresponds to the seven millennia that are counted by our calendar. I trust that the relevance of the quote is clear now. Be Blessed.

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  25. The following is triggered by your repeated usage of the words materialism and materialist.

    We cannot know the Ein Sof, the essence of G-d. Paradoxically, we can know Him, to the extent of human limitations, through His "limitations". If HaShem would not have limited Himself, we would not be able to know Him at all. What are the "limitations" of HaShem? HaShem established Hanhagot and decreed upon Himself to not intervene with them. This is called Tzimtzum. These Hanhagot are the laws of Nature at the level of the physical world, and spiritual laws above the level of the physical world. The laws of Nature, therefore, are a direct channel to knowing HaShem, second only to Chochmat HaTorah, which teaches us to know HaShem through spiritual laws. Davka because of their materialistic nature, the laws of Nature teach about G-d. I think you cannot understand this in your current intellectual position. I write this in the hope that you will take this as something to think about.

    The rules of Nature do not refer to HaShem. This is because of the Tzimtzum, and not because scientists have a materialist agenda. Newton did not have the agenda to write G-d out of his equations. The equations stand as they are, in Truth. Neither did Einstein have a materialistic agenda. He sought the Truth. So does the truthful scientist who studies the evolution of life. A spiritual person sees the Tzimtzum in the evolution of life, and seeing the world's perfection he will be drawn to the Creator.

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  26. Moshe Rafael,

    I remember having writing a huge amount of text in a couple of days back then. If I didn't relate to one of your points it is not because I could not refute it. I must have overlooked it. Your points are not so hard to refute...

    Please review our discussion there. It is not an issue of overlooking. You simply could not refute my argument. See my next comment.

    If you wish restate what in your view I could not refute, I will yet relate to it. Please be specific, though.

    I was. Just look at my previous comments on this very thread! I mentioned my argument from the fossil evidence and your argument from tidal locking. Please review our original debate. If you have anything else to add here, be my guest.

    Do not mention five points so that you can later claim about one of them that I could not refute it.

    Please review our original debate. It was you who mentioned a whole list of unsubstantiated points, not I. I took you to task for doing this and tried to get you to focus on one argument at a time. Eventually you focused on tidal locking.

    Scientific agurmentation goes by evidence. Philosophy of science, not a science in itself, goes to a degree by quoting people's verbalizations. Because it is a field of opinion, not of science. If you wish to disprove (aspects of) evolution you need to come up with scientific argumentation. A philosophy-of-science argument will not do.

    You are not entirely correct but I will grant you your point because it is irrelevant for two reasons. 1) You didn’t provide any evidence. You simply stated that scientists have “good reasons” for believing in evolution so I brought you a quote from Lewontin who claims that they don’t. 2) Lewontin is not a philosopher of science; he is a Harvard evolutionist and geneticist. He was making his assertion regarding the evidence for evolution. Here is a leading evolutionist who admits that scientists adhere to the evolutionary paradigm despite the evidence. You should peruse his article. It makes for a fascinating read.

    Moshe Rafael, all this has been discussed on this Blog countless of times. A good portion of it was discussed with you directly. I recommend you take time out and review our old discussions.

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  27. Moshe Rafael,

    I will elaborate on the Tikkunei HaZohar… the 46 days are really 46000 years, and each of the days of these years is again a thousand years. The last week corresponds to the seven millennia that are counted by our calendar. I trust that the relevance of the quote is clear now…

    So, according to your mathematics (46000 x 365 x 1000), the universe is just shy of 16.8b years old. That’s quite a bit off from 13.7b years, no?

    Look Moshe Rafael, you are obviously a very spiritual fellow. Your Kaplanesque approach would tickle anyone’s fancy. I’ve written much about this attempt to harmonize kabalah with the purported age of the universe and have, in my opinion, disproved Rabbi Kaplan’s thesis. But this is not the time and place for a discussion on this topic. If you would like to communicate with me privately, I will be free the entire month of July and we can email back and forth or even talk on the phone. But my position is that your interpretation of the relevant texts and the way you wish to use them are incorrect. I apologize for not responding to your comment on this venue.

    Be Blessed

    V’chein l’mar!

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  28. I notice that you did not take the trouble to repeat your fossil argument. Too bad. How do you know I could not refute it? Did I say so? Do you really think I could not refute your fossil argument, whatever it is you refer to? Look into your heart. Do you really think so? Really? Then I am sure you would like to expose me. Please repeat your fossil argument.

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  29. Moshe Rafael,

    I notice that you did not take the trouble to repeat your fossil argument.

    I saw no reason to repeat an argument which you basically ignored the first time around.

    Too bad. How do you know I could not refute it?

    I don’t know. All I know is that when I first advanced my argument, you did not address it directly. Rather, you avoided my presentation and went off on a tangent about other forms of supposed evidence. I inferred from this that you did not have a refutation to my argument.

    Did I say so?

    No. But you implied so by avoiding my argument.

    Do you really think I could not refute your fossil argument, whatever it is you refer to?

    Yes.

    Look into your heart. Do you really think so?

    Wait a minute… umm… yes! Yes, I really think so.

    Really?

    Truly.

    Then I am sure you would like to expose me.

    Chas v’shalom! I don’t even know you! I assume you are a wonderful person. There’s nothing to expose. What I would like is to have an informed discussion about the merits, or lack thereof, of evolutionary theory.

    Please repeat your fossil argument.

    Moshe Rafael, for you… anything. Especially since you blessed me. Here’s what I’m going to do. I will cut and paste your challenge from our previous debate and my response from the fossil evidence. This should suffice. If you’d like to review the entire debate, or if you’d like to verify the quotes I delineate, please click on this link Brain Death Part 3

    In our initial communication, you challenged me as follows:

    I am a scientist (theoretical physicist and computer scientis) and I have never encountered any such scientific claim. Please explain, expecially if you have positive evidence for a young universe.

    I responded to you with my argument from the fossil evidence. Here’s what I wrote:

    Certainly. Fossil evidence demonstrates that species appeared suddenly on earth without huge periods of time between each species. If they appeared suddenly, they must have been intelligently designed. If they were intelligently designed, there is no longer any reason to claim that life took billions of years to develop. On the contrary, Occam’s razor (a staple of theoretical physics) enjoins us to accept recent creation rather than imputing long unnecessary time periods to the development of life.

    Well, there we go. That’s my argument from the fossil evidence. If you have a refutation, go for it! But remember, you can’t avoid my argument by pointing out that there are other reasons to believe in an ancient universe. Taking this approach (as you did in our last round) is a tacit concession to the validity of my argument. Stick directly to the fossil evidence and refute my argument. Good luck!

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  30. Thank you. That helped. Now I understand why I did not understand what you referred to. And why I did not see this as something I needed to refute. I did not see an argument in what you wrote!

    I believe that evolution is guided by Divine Providence. The cases of suddenness in the fossil record are not the basis for my belief. I am unconvinced that the suddenness you refer to is even an extra argument for providence. Speciation, and species divergence, is thought to occur in small populations which live isolated for a long time. Even if it is a slow process it would not likely appear in the fossil record because fossilization is so rare that small populations do not likely leave a trace. In any case, for altogether different reasons, I do share the position that you want to found on the apparent suddenness of speciation.

    Now to your point. You seem to think that "we" deduced that evolution must have taken billions of years for the reason that evolution is a slow process. This is incorrect. The billions of years were not invented to accommodate evolution. We have no way of knowing what would be enough time to accommodate evolution!

    We cannot and therefore do not derive the time needed for evolution from our understanding of its mechanisms. Rather, we observe that evolution has occurred and we observe that the process took place during billions of years.

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  31. Moshe Rafael,

    I am unconvinced that the suddenness you refer to is even an extra argument for providence. Speciation, and species divergence, is thought to occur in small populations which live isolated for a long time. Even if it is a slow process it would not likely appear in the fossil record because fossilization is so rare that small populations do not likely leave a trace.

    If evolutionary speciation, which is driven by random mutation, is a real process, why should it occur exclusively in “small isolated populations”? And if they do indeed live for a “long time” (obviously in order to accommodate for one of the primary mechanisms of evolution, random mutation, a purely chance mechanism, to work its magic), why don’t they eventually become “large” populations? Why is it that they only become noted in the rocks when they’ve totally made their transition to currently existing species? After all, the transitionary stages must have also been viable. Why don’t we find a plethora of viable transitionary life-forms in the rocks? Why don’t we find at least a respectable fraction of them? Why is it, for instance, that the horse has not a single instance of transitionary life-form preserved in the rocks? Or the Rhinos? Or Camels? Or any of the other multitude of highly diverse ungulates?

    Your response amounts to special pleading. Special Creation should result in the sudden appearance of life-forms. Evolution (li’havdil) should result in an overwhelming number of transitional forms, as Darwin himself conceded. We find the former, not the latter. This proves Special Creation.

    Now to your point. You seem to think that "we" deduced that evolution must have taken billions of years for the reason that evolution is a slow process.

    No sir. I never said that. Nonetheless, the position you attribute to me happens to be historically correct, at least to a certain extent. In fact, even during Darwin’s time they understood that the mechanisms of evolution required millions upon millions of years. They just didn’t know precisely how much. The “billions” business came later.

    The billions of years were not invented to accommodate evolution. We have no way of knowing what would be enough time to accommodate evolution!

    True. But any yingel understands that in order to offer a plausible explanation for the evolutionary transformation of, say, a dinosaur to a bird, you need time! Lots of time. Like I mentioned before, even Darwin understood evolution as occurring over millions and millions of years. So, prima facie, evolution contradicts the Torah. Darwin knew that. His followers knew that. And the vast majority of evolutionists understand this instinctively.

    We cannot and therefore do not derive the time needed for evolution from our understanding of its mechanisms. Rather, we observe that evolution has occurred and we observe that the process took place during billions of years.

    Isn’t this circular reasoning? How can you “observe” that evolution took place if all you have is the sudden appearance of species in the fossil record (as you yourself admit)?

    I won’t even bother asking you how you “observe” that evolution took billions of years. First you need to show me that it actually took place…

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  32. "Isn’t this circular reasoning? How can you “observe” that evolution took place if all you have is the sudden appearance of species in the fossil record (as you yourself admit)?"

    All I have? Are you serious? The fossil record is only a small part of the evidence for evolution. The accumulation of all evidence is so overwhelming that I use the word "observe." This is like we observe electrons. Not that any one experiment definitely shows you that electrons exist. The certainty is in the accumulation of all evidence. And this is how we observe the anciency of the world, for which there is a truly huge amount of evidence.

    Because there is this other explanation for the apparent suddenness of species appearances, I think it cannot be an extra argument for providence. One could argue that when the population grows big, it tends to be that a succesful species divergence has occurred. I just wanted to say I am not convinced by the/your argument for providence. There may yet be something to the argument. As things stand, I think the argument is weak, and I do not need it.

    My reason for providence is much more fundamental. Randomness does not exist in the real world. Every event is from HaShem. This also explains that I don't think that my conception in the womb of my mother was a random event. Do you have a better argument? If not, why point at the fossil record in the case of evolution?

    "No sir. I never said that". \

    I was only trying hard to make sense of what you wrote about Occam's razor, and your "there is no longer any reason..." etc.

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  33. Check this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent

    ReplyDelete
  34. Moshe Rafael,

    All I have? Are you serious? The fossil record is only a small part of the evidence for evolution.

    Actually, that’s not true. The study of fossils is the foundation of evolutionary theory. In fact, it is the only scientific method capable of providing evolutionists with solid information about the history of life.

    Notwithstanding, you clearly maintain that the fossil evidence does not necessarily support evolutionary theory. To me, this is extremely significant and I thank you for making that clear.

    The accumulation of all evidence is so overwhelming that I use the word "observe."

    Wow… Ok… So, although you admit that the fossil evidence is inconclusive, you still maintain that that the evidence for evolution is “overwhelming”. So let’s throw the ball back in your court. Can you supply the readers of this blog with a line of evidence which you do consider conclusive? Or at least, can you supply us with a number of lines of evidence which, taken together (“accumulation of all evidence”), would constitute strong evidence for evolution?

    I await your response.

    Because there is this other explanation for the apparent suddenness of species appearances, I think it cannot be an extra argument for providence. One could argue that when the population grows big, it tends to be that a succesful species divergence has occurred.

    One can argue whatever one wants. The question is does it make sense? In order for the current species of, say, whale to evolve to a land mammal, the transitional forms must all be “successful”. That’s what Natural Selection is all about. Darwin understood this. That’s why the lack of transitions bothered him so much. Your counter-argument is incongruent with the very dictates of the theory you are trying to support!

    My reason for providence is much more fundamental.

    You’re straying off topic. We’re not discussing proofs for Providence. We’re discussing whether evolutionary theory is scientifically supportable.

    Randomness does not exist in the real world. Every event is from HaShem.

    The Rishonim do not say that (e.g. Rambam in the Moreh, Rabbeinu Bachya in Chovos) but I would accept your assertion, at least in a limited sense.
    This also explains that I don't think that my conception in the womb of my mother was a random event. Do you have a better argument? If not, why point at the fossil record in the case of evolution?

    Well, first of all, the fact that you personally assert that randomness does not exist in the world does not constitute an “argument”. You can’t make a unilateral statement and then appeal to said statement as proof of your position. But I understand what you mean. You are appealing to our mutual acceptance of Hashem’s Providence and in this vein you are correct. I indeed cannot think of a better explanation because I happen to agree with you. But all this is irrelevant. We are discussing scientific proofs for or against evolution. Introducing a priori theological conclusions into the mix is clearly unacceptable. This is why I point to the fossil evidence.

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  35. I'm staying out of this discussion for now, but just would point out that it is currently believed that a land mammal evolved into the modern day whale (from an elephant-like creature) and not the other way around.

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  36. Nachum Boehm,

    I'm staying out of this discussion for now, but just would point out that it is currently believed that a land mammal evolved into the modern day whale (from an elephant-like creature) and not the other way around.

    Yes. And then the whale eventually reverse-evolved into a terrestrial creature again. I thought you read Dawkin’s book…

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  37. Actually, that’s not true. The study of fossils is the foundation of evolutionary theory. In fact, it is the only scientific method capable of providing evolutionists with solid information about the history of life.

    It is part of the evidence. The genetic evidence just as important. The congruence of the two is overwhelming.

    Notwithstanding, you clearly maintain that the fossil evidence does not necessarily support evolutionary theory. To me, this is extremely significant and I thank you for making that clear.

    You are being disingenous. The fossil evidence clearly supports evolution! You claimed it is the only thing I have (for claiming that we "observe"). I answered that it is a small part of the evidence. Nevertheless, there is lots of fossil evidence for evolution, and that evicence is very essential!

    Wow… Ok… So, although you admit that the fossil evidence is inconclusive, you still maintain that that the evidence for evolution is “overwhelming”. So let’s throw the ball back in your court. Can you supply the readers of this blog with a line of evidence which you do consider conclusive? Or at least, can you supply us with a number of lines of evidence which, taken together (“accumulation of all evidence”), would constitute strong evidence for evolution?

    I await your response.

    You are misrepresenting what I wrote and you do this on purpose. I did not say that fossil evidence is inconclusive. See above. Regarding your request, I suggest you follow the link I already gave. Here it is again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent

    One can argue whatever one wants. The question is does it make sense? In order for the current species of, say, whale to evolve to a land mammal, the transitional forms must all be “successful”. That’s what Natural Selection is all about. Darwin understood this. That’s why the lack of transitions bothered him so much. Your counter-argument is incongruent with the very dictates of the theory you are trying to support!

    There are measures of success. Not all success is good enough to end up in the fossil record. But this is indeed a side point, which I only brought up to show I do not accept your proof of providence. What bothered Darwin is irrelevant, by the way, as discussed before.


    You’re straying off topic. We’re not discussing proofs for Providence. We’re discussing whether evolutionary theory is scientifically supportable.

    It relates to your "proof" of providence.

    ReplyDelete

  38. Well, first of all, the fact that you personally assert that randomness does not exist in the world does not constitute an “argument”. You can’t make a unilateral statement and then appeal to said statement as proof of your position. But I understand what you mean. You are appealing to our mutual acceptance of Hashem’s Providence and in this vein you are correct. I indeed cannot think of a better explanation because I happen to agree with you. But all this is irrelevant. We are discussing scientific proofs for or against evolution. Introducing a priori theological conclusions into the mix is clearly unacceptable. This is why I point to the fossil evidence.

    I did not state my arguments for saying that there is no randomness. That does not mean I am declaring "unilaterally". There are many arguments, from Kabbala to physics. Many Rishonim would disagree with them, that is correct. But it is good ot hear you agree with me.

    Regarding "a priori theological conclusions". I am not discussing evolution. I am discussing your rejection of evolution. You claimed that evolution is against Torah. Obviously, this is the true reason why you fight evolution. So, I come to point out that there is Kabbalistic view of the world that does not see any conflict. It is only you Pashtani view of Torah that runs into trouble.

    Regarding evolution, you argued that "we" made up the billions of years because we need them for evolution, and I denied that this is the case. We observe that the world is ancient, and we observe the evolution of life in the course of time. There is very little to add. I refuted (trivially) what you had claimed I could not refute. Also, I countered your claim that I cited an irrelevant Tikkunei HaZohar. I am ending this discussion. I see you started one about dinosaurs. I might joint the discussion there if I can find the time.

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  39. I realized that I failed to respond to your claim that your refuted my claim that tidal locking proves the world's anciency. So I looked for the word tidal in the discussion back then and found that I asked:

    Why would the Creator make the Moon tidally locked to the Earth?

    And you answered:

    Ummm… in order to facilitate tides on earth?

    At the time, I had to leave the discussion before you wrote this. I hope you do not think that this is part of your acclaimed refutation. Tides on the Earth of course do not depend at all on the tidal locking of the Moon.

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  40. Moshe Rafael,

    I am skipping to your last comment for a minute. You wrote:

    I am ending this discussion.

    Why? We’re finally working out the details here. I rarely get the opportunity to publicly debate an individual with a strong scientific background. I too don’t have time but our discussion is important, both for you and me, and for our readers. I hope you’ll stay in a bit longer…

    Now back to your initial comment…

    It is part of the evidence. The genetic evidence just as important. The congruence of the two is overwhelming.

    OK. So you agree with me that the fossil evidence is not a “small” part of the evidence. You’ve also explained that when you wrote “overwhelming”, you are referring to the congruence of two lines of evidence, fossil evidence and genetics. I’ve already mentioned to you that the glaring lack of transitional fossils supports the Torah view, not the evolutionary view. We’ll get back to that in a second. At this point, I’d like to address your claim that the field of genetics strongly supports evolutionary theory. This is patently false. If anything, the more we learn about genetics, the more improbable evolution becomes. If you want to invoke genetics to support your claim, please be more specific. You need to illustrate your point with detailed information. Otherwise, I have nothing to go on but your word. Our readers are no doubt interested in the outcome of our discussion but if it just ends up being your claim against mine, nothing has been resolved. You need to provide a detailed explanation of your assertion and, when challenged, back it up by appealing to the published scientific literature for support.

    I wrote: “Notwithstanding, you clearly maintain that the fossil evidence does not necessarily support evolutionary theory. To me, this is extremely significant and I thank you for making that clear.”

    To which you responded: You are being disingenous.

    No I’m not Moshe Rafael. I take our discussion seriously. You wrote: I just wanted to say I am not convinced by the/your argument for providence. There may yet be something to the argument. As things stand, I think the argument is weak, and I do not need it.

    My argument for Providence as opposed to evolution was the sudden appearance of species on earth. In the above-noted quote, you concede that the sudden appearance of species on earth might indeed be an argument for Creation (i.e. Providence) as opposed to evolution but you are personally not convinced of it. Did I miss something?

    Continued in the following comment.

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  41. Moshe Rafael,

    (Continued from the previous comment…)

    The fossil evidence clearly supports evolution!

    Really? I challenge you! Please supply a few quotes from leading paleontologists that the fossil evidence clearly supports evolution. Please don’t point me in the direction of popular media (like Wikepedia) and low level textbooks. I want quotes from the experts in the field of paleontology.

    You know, I’m always harping about quotes in the published scientific literature so I’ll tell you what; let me begin with a couple of quotes from my favorite author on evolution, the world-renowned professor of paleontology at Harvard University, George Gaylord Simpson, arguably the most prominent Neo-Darwinist of the 20th century. These quotes are designed to support my claim that the fossil evidence does not clearly support evolution. They will also demonstrate the proper academic method of supporting one’s claims scientific assertions.

    “On still higher levels, those of what is here called “mega-evolution” [this refers to fundamental changes in an organism, such as the appearance of a brand new limb, which would be looked upon as an example of speciation], the inferences [he is referring to previous statements] might still apply, but caution is enjoined because here essentially continuous transitional sequences are not merely rare, but they are virtually absent…their absence is so nearly universal that it cannot, offhand, be imputed entirely to chance and does require some attempt at special explanation as has been felt by most paleontologists” (George Gaylord Simpson, Tempo and Mode in Evolution,, Columbia University Press, 1984, p. 105 - emphasis added)

    So, most paleontologists feel that the lack of transitional fossils is a serious problem for evolution and requires some sort of special explanation. Does this sound to you like the fossil record is “clear evidence” for evolution? Let’s go on with our good friend Prof. Simpson.

    “This is true of all the thirty-two orders of mammals, and in most cases the break in the record is still more striking than the case of the perissodactyls… The earliest and most primitive known members of every order already have the basic ordinal characters [just like the Torah implies], and in no case is an approximately continuous sequence from one order to another known (ibid. p. 106)

    “In most cases, the break is so sharp and the gap so large that the origin of the order is speculative and much disputed,…there is little doubt, for instance, that the highly diverse ungulates [hoofed animals] did have a common ancestry; but the line making an actual connection with such an ancestry is not known in even one instance (ibid)

    And here’s one more from another textbook he wrote:

    “…it remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of families, appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences (George Gaylord Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution, Columbia University Press, 1969 p. 360)

    So, it is abundantly clear that professional mainstream neo-Darwinists concede the lack of fossil evidence despite their allegiance to evolutionary dogma.

    OK Moshe Rafael, the ball is in your court. I’ve spent the time necessary to provide you with the opinion of the experts. How do you reconcile your confidence in the fossil record with the above-noted quotes? Are you able to provide quotes by expert paleontologists which contradict what I’ve been saying? If not, do you concede that the fossil evidence is not “clearly” in support of evolutionary theory?

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  42. Moshe Rafael,

    There are measures of success. Not all success is good enough to end up in the fossil record. But this is indeed a side point, which I only brought up to show I do not accept your proof of providence.

    It’s not a side point. It is the point. If not all success is good enough to end up in the fossil record, then unfortunately for evolutionists the fossil record is simply incapable of serving as proof for evolution. Without the appearance of the “minor” successes in the rocks, there is nothing to link the “major” successes one to the next. Ergo, there is nothing in the fossil evidence which demonstrates that one species evolved from the next.

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  43. Moshe Rafael,

    Regarding "a priori theological conclusions". I am not discussing evolution. I am discussing your rejection of evolution. You claimed that evolution is against Torah.

    This thread is about my claim that evolution is not supported by the evidence. Yes, I believe that evolution contradicts the Torah but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the presence, or lack thereof, of empirical evidence for the theory of evolution as opposed to the presence, or lack thereof, of empirical evidence for, li’havdil, Special Creation as depicted in the Torah. For now I would like to stay away from theological arguments for or against evolution. We can always broach this topic when we’ve exhausted the current thread.

    Obviously, this is the true reason why you fight evolution. So, I come to point out that there is Kabbalistic view of the world that does not see any conflict. It is only you Pashtani view of Torah that runs into trouble.

    This is an invalid point. If the standard way to understand the Torah is the “Pashtani” way, you cannot avoid the implications of pashtanus by invoking nebulous kabbalistic doctrines. The unanimous consensus of our mesorah is that the world is a product of recent and sudden Creation. That’s a fact. Here’s a document I wrote with over 35 sources in our mesorah supporting my view. As far as your kabbalistic sources, they do not contradict our mesorah but I am not willing to debate this with you at this time. First we need to resolve the scientific issue. Once we’ve established the facts regarding the science, I am willing to pursue the theological aspects of evolution with you as much as you’d like.

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  44. Moshe Rafael,

    Tides on the Earth of course do not depend at all on the tidal locking of the Moon.

    ????

    If the moon was not tidally locked with the earth in the precise fashion it is, we obviously would not have the same frequency or intensity of tides we have today. There are scientific fields devoted exclusively to the study of intertidal ecology. There are a plethora of biological organisms which live and survive based on the specific duration between one tide and the next. This makes tidal locking an intrinsic part of the obvious plan and purpose apparent in Hashem’s Creation.

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  45. "If the moon was not tidally locked with the earth in the precise fashion it is, we obviously would not have the same frequency or intensity of tides we have today. There are scientific fields devoted exclusively to the study of intertidal ecology. There are a plethora of biological organisms which live and survive based on the specific duration between one tide and the next. This makes tidal locking an intrinsic part of the obvious plan and purpose apparent in Hashem’s Creation. "

    Tidal locking does not influence daily tides on Earth. These tides, their frequencies and their intensities, are created by the gravitational pull of the Moon, which, according to the laws of Newton, is a function of the Moon's mass and the position of the Moon's gravitational center. They are not a function of how fast the Moon rotates around its axis, which is what tidal locking is about. You leave me very puzzled...

    Tidal locking is a simple consequence of the anciency of the Moon-Earth system. You failed to come up with a reason for tidal locking in your young Moon-Earth system. Kal v'Chomer you have no explanation for the tidal lockings in other planet/Moon systems. QED.

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  46. "It’s not a side point. It is the point. If not all success is good enough to end up in the fossil record, then unfortunately for evolutionists the fossil record is simply incapable of serving as proof for evolution. Without the appearance of the “minor” successes in the rocks, there is nothing to link the “major” successes one to the next. Ergo, there is nothing in the fossil evidence which demonstrates that one species evolved from the next."

    The fossils are linked by their similarities. Look, regarding the past, we only have traces. Both genetios and the fossil record are traces of the past. The first is a better proof of common ancestry. The fossil trace is a better proof of the time scales involved. Regarding the mechanisms for the transitions, their is much we do not know, as the traces we have do not contain this information.

    "Really? I challenge you! Please supply a few quotes from leading paleontologists that the fossil evidence clearly supports evolution. Please don’t point me in the direction of popular media (like Wikepedia) and low level textbooks. I want quotes from the experts in the field of paleontology."

    You need to combine all information. The information itself, not quotes about them. I gave you twice a link to a wikipedia page about commmon ancestry. It is a good read, a good first step towards an integrated view. Of course it has a section about fossils.

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  47. Moshe Rafael,

    Tidal locking does not influence daily tides on Earth. These tides, their frequencies and their intensities, are created by the gravitational pull of the Moon, which, according to the laws of Newton, is a function of the Moon's mass and the position of the Moon's gravitational center. They are not a function of how fast the Moon rotates around its axis, which is what tidal locking is about.

    Aren’t you forgetting something? According to your paradigm, before our moon was locked to its primary (earth), it was closer to earth. As the earth’s gravity created a bulge on the moon, more of the mass of the moon shifted to one side and at every successive seizure the moons rotation slowed until it was finally fully locked with its primary. But the problem is that in order to satisfy the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum the moon must recede from its primary as its rotation slows. That means that originally it was much closer to the earth than it is today meaning that, according to Newton’s laws, the intensity and frequency of the tides must have been different on earth in the past. I’ve mentioned this to you in the past. If my calculations are false, by all means, please explain to me why.

    I also mentioned to you that according to uniformitarian calculations, the moon would have been practically touching the earth a mere 1.2b years ago, much less than the 4.6b years our Earth/Moon system is estimated to be. If I recall correctly, you just pooh poohed my assertion and did not respond properly. QED

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  48. Moshe Rafael,

    The fossils are linked by their similarities.

    No, they’re not. You’re arguing from Homology now, not the fossil evidence. The fossils are no more linked together evolution-wise than the Brooklyn bridge is linked to the Manhattan bridge. Assuming Intelligent Design, we should expect to see similar structures amongst the various living things just as we see similar design in structures designed by humans. Homology is certainly no more indicative of evolutionary theory than sudden and rapid Creation.

    Despite your claim that the fossil evidence “clearly supports” evolution, you have failed to support your assertion from the actual evidence.

    Look, regarding the past, we only have traces. Both genetios and the fossil record are traces of the past.

    And this you refer to as “overwhelming evidence” for evolution? Are you not beginning to see the tenuousness of your position?

    The first is a better proof of common ancestry.

    It proves no such thing. If you want to advance an argument from genetics, you’re going to have to do better than just claim it.

    The fossil trace is a better proof of the time scales involved.

    Once again, this is false. Please support your assertions properly. At least explain what you mean so you can afford your opponent an opportunity to weigh the validity of your words and respond accordingly.

    Please forgive the following observation but to me it seems that when it comes to fields you are familiar with, such as physics, you explain your position in detail. So for instance, when it came to tidal locking, you went into a detailed explanation of why you believed I was wrong. This gave me the opportunity to properly consider your words and provide you with an informed response. When it comes to evolution, I think you’re a bit out of your element. You make many general statements but do not explain your justification for them.

    You need to combine all information. The information itself, not quotes about them. I gave you twice a link to a wikipedia page about commmon ancestry. It is a good read, a good first step towards an integrated view. Of course it has a section about fossils.

    Well, there we go. This is the way all my debates on evolution always end. I am told condescendingly that I don’t understand evolution and I am pointed to some low-level presentation on the web so I can learn a bit about it. I have news for you. I probably know as much about evolution as the guy who wrote the article in Wikipedia! You claim that I need to “combine all the information, not quotes about them”. This is a ridiculous comment to make. The quotes I provided you were by professional paleontologists from books that I possess and have read. These paleontologists are the professionals. This is their field of expertise. Surely they have “combined all the information together” and yet they have concluded that the fossil evidence to support evolution is glaringly absent! I’m sorry but if you cannot provide me with quotes, or as you would say, “information”, from the published scientific literature which indicates clearly that the fossil evidence strongly supports evolution, you have clearly failed to support your position. I wish you could understand this…

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  49. Aren’t you forgetting something? According to your paradigm, before our moon was locked to its primary (earth), it was closer to earth. As the earth’s gravity created a bulge on the moon, more of the mass of the moon shifted to one side and at every successive seizure the moons rotation slowed until it was finally fully locked with its primary. But the problem is that in order to satisfy the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum the moon must recede from its primary as its rotation slows. That means that originally it was much closer to the earth than it is today meaning that, according to Newton’s laws, the intensity and frequency of the tides must have been different on earth in the past. I’ve mentioned this to you in the past. If my calculations are false, by all means, please explain to me why.

    You need to explain why a young Moon would be locked to a young Earth. It is not to create tides. I did not forget a thing, and notice that you failed. Tidal locking is the only explanation for the locking that we observe. Hence the world is old.


    I also mentioned to you that according to uniformitarian calculations, the moon would have been practically touching the earth a mere 1.2b years ago, much less than the 4.6b years our Earth/Moon system is estimated to be. If I recall correctly, you just pooh poohed my assertion and did not respond properly.

    I told you that it is not a serious problem. I was being polite. This is nonsense. The recession of the Moon is a function of the dissipation caused by tidal movements. This dissipation is very difficult to calculate. I have no idea what your uniformitarian calculations are, but I do know they do not apply. Dissipation caused by tidal movements depends on details, notably on the size amd depths of oceans, and the posistions of land masses. These things varied a lot during the history of the Earth, in partially unknown ways. Even if we would know all details, this type of problem is quite untractable. However, we can nowadays measure the recession of the Moon. Calculating backwards with the current recessions speed, the Moon did not touch the Earth ever. Add to this that before the continents splitted, the recession must have been than today.

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  50. It proves no such thing. If you want to advance an argument from genetics, you’re going to have to do better than just claim it.

    Blog comments do not give space for arguments like this. Even if I would concentrate on a tiny piece of evidence, such as, for instance retro-viruses, it wuold take numerous comments and take time I do not have. It would be easy to quote a professional claiming that retro viruses definitely prove common descent, but I do not descend to such levels.

    Please forgive the following observation but to me it seems that when it comes to fields you are familiar with, such as physics, you explain your position in detail. So for instance, when it came to tidal locking, you went into a detailed explanation of why you believed I was wrong. This gave me the opportunity to properly consider your words and provide you with an informed response. When it comes to evolution, I think you’re a bit out of your element. You make many general statements but do not explain your justification for them.

    I did not explain tidal locking in any detail. I referred to a wikipedia page, just as I did for common descent. Besides, your response was a remarkable failure. See the previous comment.

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  51. A crucial word went missing in the comment before last. The last sentence must be:

    Add to this that before the continents splitted, the recession must have been less than today.

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  52. Moshe Rafael,

    You need to explain why a young Moon would be locked to a young Earth. It is not to create tides. I did not forget a thing, and notice that you failed. Tidal locking is the only explanation for the locking that we observe. Hence the world is old.

    I already explained all this in our last communication on this topic. Since you seem to have forgotten, I’ll cut and paste from the comments at this post.

    I must point something out here. There are two competing theories for the presence of the phenomena of our universe. The first (a) appeals to naturalistic processes, the second (b) to meta-natural processes. The former claims that the universe as we know it formed over billions of years whereas the latter claims that God created the universe recently in a fully-functional form within a period of six days.

    In order to demonstrate that one theory is more reasonable to adopt then the other, evidence must be produced which is more consistent with the one theory over the other.

    The synchronized action of tidal activity on earth is vital to our system. As such, advanced tidal lock between the earth and the moon is no more consistent with theory (a) as it is with theory (b).


    Incidentally, in our original communication, you did not reject this last statement of mine. Rather, you responded by asking why Pluto and Charon are tidally locked which implies that you accept my etzem argument that the present state of tidal locking in our Earth/Moon system maintains the proper intensity and duration of tides necessary for the survival of many organisms.

    As far as your question from Pluto and Charon, at present I do not have a good answer. But I’m sure that their tidally locked state is somehow beneficial to our solar system the way we need it to be. I just don’t know how.

    Dissipation caused by tidal movements depends on details, notably on the size amd depths of oceans, and the posistions of land masses. These things varied a lot during the history of the Earth, in partially unknown ways. Even if we would know all details, this type of problem is quite untractable. However, we can nowadays measure the recession of the Moon. Calculating backwards with the current recessions speed, the Moon did not touch the Earth ever.

    You just contradicted yourself. First you claim that dissipation caused by tidal movements during the history of the earth depends, at least partially, on unknown variables. In fact, you assert that even if we did know all the variables, the problem of making precise calculations is intractable. Then you go on to confidently assert that the moon never touched the earth based on current rates of dissipation. I’m afraid you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve. It is quite obvious that you are bent on supporting the antiquity of the earth regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

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  53. The synchronized action of tidal activity on earth is vital to our system. As such, advanced tidal lock between the earth and the moon is no more consistent with theory (a) as it is with theory (b).

    There is no "synchronized action." The action (tides on Earth) is independent of the synchronization. When will you accept this simple point?

    Incidentally, in our original communication, you did not reject this last statement of mine. Rather, you responded by asking why Pluto and Charon are tidally locked which implies that you accept my etzem argument that the present state of tidal locking in our Earth/Moon system maintains the proper intensity and duration of tides necessary for the survival of many organisms.

    My time was and is limited. I just asked you a harder question, which I had already asked before and you had not related to. I apologize if this misled you. Anyway, you cannot deduce my acceptance of an argument in this fashion. If I accept, I will say it. In this case, what was there to accept? The stamement makes no sense. Tides are vital, but they are the same with and without the locking.

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  54. You just contradicted yourself. First you claim that dissipation caused by tidal movements during the history of the earth depends, at least partially, on unknown variables. In fact, you assert that even if we did know all the variables, the problem of making precise calculations is intractable. Then you go on to confidently assert that the moon never touched the earth based on current rates of dissipation. I’m afraid you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve. It is quite obvious that you are bent on supporting the antiquity of the earth regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

    There is no contradiction. The problem is intractable mathematically. Nobody knows how to compute today's recession rate. What we do understand, probably, is that the recession rate increaaed because of the continental split. Now, because we can measure that what we cannot compute mathematically, today's recession rate, we can rest reasonably assured that the Moon never touched the Moon.

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  55. The last word of my last comment must be Earth, of course. I am leaving this discussion. Chag Sameach.

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  56. Moshe Rafael,

    There is no "synchronized action." The action (tides on Earth) is independent of the synchronization. When will you accept this simple point?

    I’ll try one more time. If the moon was not in an advanced state of tidal lock with the earth, then it would be striving to achieve this condition. I think we can both agree on that, right? So, if it was striving to achieve this condition, then in order to satisfy the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, the moon would have to recede from the earth with every successive seizure. This would cause the moon to recede from the earth at a much faster pace than it is receding today. Today it recedes one or two inches a year at most, a relatively insignificant amount. This rate of recession does not have the ability to affect the synchronized action of the tides on earth in any significant fashion. However, if the moon was not tidally locked, it would recede at a much faster pace thus eventually affecting the intensity and frequency of the tides on earth. As you know, Newton’s law of gravitation (F = Gm1m2/r2) states that when r2 is increased, the gravitational force is decreased. Thus the relatively rapid recession of the moon may have affected the intensity of the tides on earth. In order to answer your tidal lock question, I am proposing that, perhaps, Hashem caused an advanced state of tidal locking in our Earth/Moon system in order to stabilize the recession.

    Now, I am not a physicist. I have no formal training in the field and thus cannot make the advanced calculations necessary to determine precisely what the speed of recession for a non-tidally locked moon would be over a period of 5771 years assuming the moon’s initial distance from the earth at 384,000 km and therefore I can’t prove to you that the rate of recession of a non-tidally locked moon would have deleterious affects on the frequency and intensity of the tides on earth. But even you, with your formal training, are unable to provide the calculations. One thing I do know though; the rate of recession would definitely have been faster had the moon not been tidally locked to the earth. So I am offering a possible response to your question, one which I think makes perfect sense and might very well be true. If you want to pick apart my response further, be my guest. But if you do not explain to me the flaw in my logic, I am afraid we have arrived at an impasse and will just have to agree to disagree.

    Chag Sameach

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  57. Moshe Rafael,

    Blog comments do not give space for arguments like this. Even if I would concentrate on a tiny piece of evidence, such as, for instance retro-viruses, it wuold take numerous comments and take time I do not have.

    Hmm…How many comments are you imagining it would take? Three? Four? Five? How about ten? Guess what? You’ve penned close to thirty comments just in this thread alone! Most of them related to fossil evidence or tidal locking. Why should genetics be any different? As a professional scientist shouldn’t it be worth your time to explore the hard facts and consider opposing opinions?

    It would be easy to quote a professional claiming that retro viruses definitely prove common descent, but I do not descend to such levels.

    Descend? I am beginning to suspect that you and I possess decidedly different parameters for acceptable scientific dialogue. Unfortunately this makes the achievement of common ground between us very difficult. I recommend that you peruse the articles in professional science journals such as Science or Nature. They are replete with references to current data as reported in the published scientific literature. This is standard operating procedure for any scientist making a submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

    If you have come across claims in the scientific literature by professional geneticists clearly asserting that retroviruses “definitely prove” common descent, kindly produce them along with the appropriate references so your material can be verified. If you cannot, it would behoove you to concede the lack of genetic evidence supporting evolution.

    So far you have not produced a single shred of evidence for evolution from fossils or genetics despite your claim that these two lines of evidence, taken together, comprise “overwhelming” support for the theory. When it came to fossils you eventually modified your position re the evidence by invoking homology. This was clearly pointed out to you in a lengthy comment and yet you chose not to respond. Now with genetics you are choosing to entirely avoid my request for evidence by appealing to a “lack of time”. To my mind this speaks volumes about the tenuousness of your position.

    If you ever decide that you are ready to investigate the evidence objectively, I remain prepared to explore it with you side by side.

    Once again, Chag Sameach!

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