Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Evolution and Space Shuttles

Over Yom Tov I had the pleasure of meeting a young man (let’s call him Zev) who follows this blog. After introducing himself he asked me if I was interested in discussing some of my positions on the blog and I agreed. He then began to pose several challenges in rapid succession. I did my best to respond to him in the limited time we had but there was one particular issue which I took special interest in and which I insisted on discussing with him at length. Unfortunately our discussion was cut short so I’d like to revisit it here.

About three years ago I wrote a series of posts on this blog describing what, in my opinion, was most disturbing about Rabbi Slifkin’s approach to science and Torah in general and evolution and ma’aseh bereishis in particular. I argued that accepting the notion that life evolved naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years effectively cripples one’s ability to discern the presence of the Creator from the beriah. Rabbi Slifkin responded that he discerns the presence of the Creator from the fine-tuned laws of nature and I countered by asserting that the denial of patent design in biological nature is logically inconsistent with the claim of patent design in the laws of nature. In short, I accused him of maintaining an incoherent theology. Zev challenged my rejection of “Rabbi Slifkin’s theology” by quoting none other than my very own rebbi, Rav Avigdor Miller!

On page 30 of Rejoice O Youth, Rabbi Miller writes as follows: 
Youth: What is the ray of hope [of convincing evolutionists that the universe cannot be attributed to chance naturalistic mechanisms and therefore clearly testifies to a Designer – sc] of which you speak? 
Sage: The Evolutionists have blinded themselves against the evidence of the organic world. But the inorganic world is full of marvels of plan and purpose which can open one’s eyes to the Truth… 
Rabbi Miller then goes on to discuss physical properties such as the force of gravity, the atmosphere, and rates of evaporation. Although there are an endless number of possible permutations, the physical laws that govern the aforementioned phenomena all cooperate with each other to allow for an infinitely complex, fully functioning world. They are “finely tuned” for our specific universe despite the fact that the probability of them being so conveniently aligned is statistically nil. This is popularly referred to as “the argument for Intelligent Design from the fine-tuning coincidences in the universe” and is endorsed by Rabbi Slifkin in his book The Science of Torah (pp 39-46) and The Challenge (pp 49-57).

Based on the aforementioned quote from Rejoice O Youth, Zev felt that my accusation against Rabbi Slifkin was in conflict with Rabbi Miller’s statement that even if one denies “design” in the phenomena of life, there is still a “ray of hope” that he will discern it from the laws of nature.

The truth is, Zev is in error. Just before this quote, Rabbi Miller writes (Rejoice, ibid):
I fear that even this (the argument from the fine-tuned laws of nature - sc) will be ignored by them. If they have the hardiness to ascribe to accident all which we have discussed hitherto, they are quite impervious to argument. Men who are not biased are powerfully impressed when they are told of an animal which is able to shoot a suffocating stench against its enemies (skunk), or an animal that is able to present javelins against its enemies (porcupine)… If men are so irresponsible as to ascribe to accident these intricately planned devices, then I fear nothing could move them. 
So, any attempt to persuade an avowed evolutionist of design in the universe is most-likely futile. If they are capable of ascribing the intricately planned phenomena of life to chance naturalistic processes, they are equally capable of ascribing the laws of nature to naturalistic processes, as they in fact do. (Stephen Hawkings’s most recent book claims that all of the laws of physics can be accounted for by the presence of the Law of Gravitation. As he writes: “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”)

What does Rabbi Miller mean by “a ray of hope”? Nothing. It is a form of speech. He didn’t actually believe that there is any hope that an evolutionist can discern the trappings of design in the phenomena of the universe. Which brings me to the topic of this post.

In a recent post entitled A Breathtaking Endeavor, Rabbi Slifkin writes:    
…upon seeing it [the space shuttle Endeavor], I …feel a powerful emotion of awe…Why was it such an awesome sight?... it was what the shuttle represented… for people my age, the space shuttle was mankind's most glorious technological achievement… The space shuttle is the pinnacle of man's technological prowess, which in turn is the result of his three-pound brain. Which in turn is the single most complex entity in the known universe - the single greatest and most remarkable element of creation. 
In The Challenge Of Creation, I quoted the following from mathematician Morris Kline: 
“A study of mathematics and its contributions to the sciences exposes a deep question. Mathematics is man-made. The concepts, the broad ideas, the logical standards and methods of reasoning... were fashioned by human beings. Yet with the product of his fallible mind, man has surveyed spaces too vast for his imagination to encompass; he has predicted and shown how to control radio waves which none of our senses can perceive; and he has discovered particles too small to be seen with the most powerful microscope... Some explanation of this marvelous power is called for.” 
Who would predict a universe in which the laws of nature are able to produce a being that can figure out a way to leave its home planet? Baruch Oseh Maase Bereishis! 
Evolutionists Rabbi Slifkin! Evolutionists claim that the human brain is the end product of biological evolution over hundreds of millions of years. Actually, it's even worse than that. Evolutionists make the astonishing claim that the human brain began as a chimpanzee brain a mere 7 million years ago and evolved naturalistically to encompass mathematical concepts, ideas, logical standards and methods of reasoning! 

Does Rabbi Slifkin believe in Evolution? If so, what stirred him to proclaim Baruch Oseh Maaseh Bereishis when considering the human brain?


What is wrong with Rabbi Slifkin’s theology? The answer is, it makes no sense.   

21 comments:

  1. Hi R Coffer!

    "Over Yom Tov I had the pleasure of meeting a young man"

    The pleasure was all mine. Take that on faith (:

    "(let’s call him Zev)"

    Yes. Let's.

    "there was one particular issue which I took special interest in and which I insisted on discussing with him at length. Unfortunately our discussion was cut short so I’d like to revisit it here."

    I'm thrilled that you've decided to revisit it here. Before I reply, I want to read the post you linked to and comments thereon (it's a different one than the one I remembered reading.)

    Meanwhile, I think there are two separate issues here:

    1) What RAM wrote/meant. (A relatively minor issue relevant only to his chassidim)

    2) The major issue of whether "accepting the notion that life evolved naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years" in fact "effectively cripples one’s ability to discern the presence of the Creator from the beriah"

    Agreed?

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  2. Zev,

    Shalom Aleichem and welcome to our humble venue!

    Hi R Coffer…The pleasure was all mine…

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I'm thrilled that you've decided to revisit it here. Before I reply, I want to read the post you linked to and comments thereon

    Actually, there are four of them. I suggest reading all four. Here they are, linked in date order.

    1) October 15, 2010 What's Wrong With Rabbi Slifkin's Theology?
    2) October 27, 2010 What's Wrong With Rabbi Slifkin's Theology - Part 2
    3) December 1, 2010 What's Wrong With Rabbi Slifkin's Theology - Part 3
    4) December 6, 2010 Logical Consistency versus Rationality

    Meanwhile, I think there are two separate issues here:

    1) What RAM wrote/meant. (A relatively minor issue relevant only to his chassidim)

    2) The major issue of whether "accepting the notion that life evolved naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years" in fact "effectively cripples one’s ability to discern the presence of the Creator from the beriah"

    Agreed?


    Certainly. That’s why I wrote four posts on the topic. Also, remember Zev; when you approached me, you challenged my thesis by comparison to Rabbi Miller. You didn’t challenge it on its own terms. That’s why I began responding to you along those lines. But as I mentioned in my post above, I had intended on broadening the topic and discussing it at length with you. I hope the linked posts clarify my postion.

    Be well,

    SC

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  3. Shalom Rav Coffer! I thought I'd drop by just on a few points.

    "I countered by asserting that the denial of patent design in biological nature is logically inconsistent with the claim of patent design in the laws of nature."

    I'm trying to see the inconsistency but I don't. Many scientists, especially in physics and astronomy do consider the anthropomorphic arguments regarding the fine turning of the laws of the universe to be a superior form of evidence for a creator than the design inferred from Biology. In fact, it's considered to be the strongest argument for the existence of a creator among many philosophers. I'm pretty sure it's the only argument taken seriously these days. While Behe's irreducible complexity has come and gone in academia, this argument does still remain. Physicists still are engaged in immense debate about it despite believing in evolution:

    See the following:

    Physicists against the fine tuning argument:

    http://www.slac.stanford.edu/cgi-wrap/getdoc/slac-pub-11795.pdf

    Physicists for the fine tuning argument:

    http://bama.ua.edu/~lclavell/papers/weakless2c.pdf

    Note how even the physicists in favor of the fine-tuning argument and againt its critiques mention that life evolved.

    I don't see any self-contradictory elements in Rav slifkins theology either. Just because the laws of how a given system operates were designed doesn't mean entities within the system have to demonstrate evidence of design as well. If I set up my blog with a random letter generator and everything within my blog looked completely random, you could still infer that the existence of my blog was designed.

    And also it seems that Rav Miller was talking about the reliability of getting people to see a creator. This seems to press the issue of how probable it is of getting evolutionists convinced of the theology, not if the theology was logically incoherent / inconsistent or not.

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  4. Just to clarify when I say "I'm pretty sure it's the only argument taken seriously these days." I mean in scientific top tier journals.

    Best wishes!

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  5. As far as point 1) I have nothing more to add other than that R Miller continues that "we should make the attempt..." I think that your claim that "What does Rabbi Miller mean by “a ray of hope”? Nothing. It is a form of speech. He didn’t actually believe that there is any hope that an evolutionist can discern the trappings of design in the phenomena of the universe" -does violence to it's intended meaning. People should read the book/ paragraphs and judge for themselves (I can't imagine you have any kind of issue with that last statement)


    2) Ok. I've read the 4 posts and all the comments. It seems like the most productive ones were parts 3&4 where you and RNS actually hash it out. I must say that I found the exchange exhilarating (as well as your exchange with 'Nachum'), and I'm sorry I didn't read it earlier.
    It seems to me that at the end of the day your argument boils down to claiming that life is so much more complicated than physics that seeing G-d necessarily implicated in the latter but not the former is incoherent. RNS counters that actually evolution provides a very plausible and probable cause and that the jury is out on whether Dawkin's mathematical model actually even shows it to be likely.
    You in turn- buffered by your belief that "Evolution is stupid! It’s nothing plus nothing. It’s less than nothing"- obviously roundly reject that and return to your position that life is a much louder witness to G-d than fine tuning. "Don't try and convince me that you feel that the design in the laws of nature impresses you more than the design of living things. You're the Zoo Rabbi, remember? Not the Cosmo Rabbi. Your sheer wonderment at living things oozes from your books and your websites. I honestly believe that your respect for living things surpasses my own! The reason you keep on pushing evolution is because you are a victim of current academic opinion. You’re impressed by numbers and degrees."

    On this post Avi Bitterman- who you have admitted knows his stuff- weighs in on RNS's side. You of course would counter that the poor med student is suffering from an overdose of adoration for the academic establishment and should stick to measuring temperature degrees instead of caring what the delusional professors WITH degrees have to say.

    As to you're point "Evolutionists Rabbi Slifkin! Evolutionists claim that the human brain is the end product of biological evolution over hundreds of millions of years. Actually, it's even worse than that. Evolutionists make the astonishing claim that the human brain began as a chimpanzee brain a mere 7 million years ago and evolved naturalistically to encompass mathematical concepts, ideas, logical standards and methods of reasoning!" RNS would likely reply that that's like claiming "mitosis Rabbi Coffer- your body reproduces itself by blandly copying your existing cells! Actually, it's worse than that- you and I are in agreement that we all originated as tipos seruchos!"

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  6. I would like to bring your attention to a recent review (2012) about the fine tuning argument published in the journal "Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia" has concluded, after addressing various common criticisms of the argument, that "the universe is fine-tuned for the exis- tence of life."

    http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=AS12015.pdf

    As you can see, as far as the academic institution goes, it seems like Rav Millers words were indeed correct (if taken literally). This IS the last "ray of hope" for the scientists. I don't see well respected academic journals taking creation science seriously, but I most definitely see well respected academic journals taking the cosmological fine tuning argument seriously, and I see some going as far as publish papers publicly concluding that the universe was fine tuned!

    This is an argument that is not to be underestimated in its ability to convince academics. And indeed, many of the physicists ARE evolutionists (and not surprisingly, in the review they mention that life evolved).

    Are you really so sure that Rav Miller didn't actually believe that an evolutionist can discern the trappings of design in the phenomena of the universe? Because it seems like this indeed can and does happen (at least among the evolutionists who study physics and astronomy at a very great depth).

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  7. I meant to say this at the beginning

    "remember Zev; when you approached me, you challenged my thesis by comparison to Rabbi Miller. You didn’t challenge it on its own terms. That’s why I began responding to you along those lines."

    You're 100% right. I would just like to clarify that I find your argument unconvincing overall. As you may have noticed by the glee with which I presented my argument challenging you, "by quoting none other than [your] very own rebbi, Rav Avigdor Miller" was more of a 'gotcha!' gimmick than anything else. Your not a gimmick guy which is probably why you didn't chap that.

    I should add that I happen to be a YEC who just doesn't find evolution to be- necessarily terribly heretical.

    I would like to hypothesize why you are so adamant about position.

    From here: http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.com/2010/12/logical-consistency-versus-rationality.html?showComment=1292006014710#c538582734036650396

    "In an interchange between you and Nachum, you averred the following: “I certainly consider myself a member of the Yeshiva of Avraham Avinu or Dovid HaMelech with regard to seeing Hashem as the Creator of nature.”

    In an odd way, I consider you not only a member of the yeshiva, I consider you a Rosh Yeshiva. Anyone who has read your books on animals cannot fail to see the pure wonder and amazement of the author as he discusses the marvels of Zoology. Even a stoic, indifferent person can’t help being affected by the sheer ebullience which permeates your writings. When you and I were arguing about the Stincus, I had occasion to visit your ZooTorah Blog site. I saw the incredible Techiyas hameisim frog video you attached but the imagery didn’t make nearly as great an impression on me as your comment. You wrote: “One of the things I love about the animal kingdom is that after 30 years learning about animals, there are still new things that blow me away!”

    Rabbi Slifkin, all I can say is that you are an enigma. I thought I couldn’t figure out my wife... then I met you…" End Quote

    Now,
    A) As you proudly acknowledge, you got your core ideas from RAM.
    B) (In your view), he 1] conclusively debunked evolution as nonsense,
    and 2] explained why the 'blind' scientists continue to believe it- it's their religion; it allows them to avoid having to face the borei etc
    C) What he did NOT explain is why anyone who is a in a certain aspect a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Dovid Ha'melech or YAA would believe in evolution. So you're forced to shtell tzu the scientits blindness to him. But that's very shver, because he clearly sees things quite well. So you bleib 'enigma'.

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  8. Now 2 side points

    1) Can someone explain how to italicize quotes.
    2) I'm sure we can all agree that craziest thing on this blog is the fact that when I sign in with my Google ID, I have to prove I'm not a robot. Do you really have a hava a'mina that I am one? Surely that's crazier than evolution!

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  9. You can italicize quotes by placing < i > (without the spaces between the arrows and the i) directly in front of the quote you want to italicize and < /i > (again without the spaces) directly after the quote you want to italicize.

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  10. Avi Bitterman,

    Dear Avi,

    Shalom Aleichem my dear friend! How goes it in med school? I’m sure you’re knocking them dead. How’s your health? Actually, that’s a rhetorical question. Your Google picture says it all. You look great! May Hashem bless you with continued good health “biz a hundrid und tzvontzig” (that’s Chinese for “a really long time”).

    I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I don’t have a second to myself. As you can see I haven’t been very active on the blog. I found a couple of spare minutes a few weeks ago and decided to pump out one or two posts but unfortunately I do not have the time to defend them in the comment section, at least not in any meaningful way. However since you took the time to write I feel compelled to dignify your comments with at least a partial response. I’ll cut and paste your comments and respond to the best of my ability.

    I'm trying to see the inconsistency but I don't. Many scientists, especially in physics and astronomy do consider the anthropomorphic arguments regarding the fine turning of the laws of the universe to be a superior form of evidence for a creator than the design inferred from Biology.

    First of all, you mean “anthropic”, not “anthropomorphic”.

    Second of all, your comment is, at best, irrelevant. There are also many scientists that maintain that the anthropic principle is hokum. So what? Does that mean that I can wiggle out of your argument by responding that my criticism is valid according to them? Of course not. I would never do that. My argument is plain and simple and remains the same regardless. If you can see “design” in the fortuitous arrangement of fundamental universal constants which allow for life, then you should see it in the fortuitous arrangement of biochemical molecules which allow for the existence of life. It’s a simple argument. If one rejects “chance” as an explanation for the presence of our universal constants due to its high level of improbability, he must logically reject chance as an explanation for the presence of complex molecular life on earth due to the very same issue of improbability. If you wish to claim that I am in disagreement with some scientists, so be it. But you know me; if my protagonist wishes to convince me of the superiority of his position, he needs to present rational counter-arguments in his defense. Appealing to authority is meaningless to me.

    Interestingly enough, those who support the validity of the anthropic principle claim that the very fact that we can make meaningful observations about the universe proves that the universe must culminate with sentient life capable of making these observations. So what sense does it make to subscribe to the anthropic principle while claiming that the phenomenon of sentient life itself is the apparent product of biological chance (random mutations of the gene)? It’s a contradiction!

    Look, obviously biological evolution, in and of itself, could have developed without the culmination of sentient life. The fact that it didn’t (according to AP) is the result of the “forces” behind AP that guide the “evolutionary” process to culminate in intelligent life. Ergo, when we study the unfolding of life, we should acknowledge the presence of mysterious forces implicated in life’s development no less than we acknowledge them when we consider the universal constants themselves.

    Continued…

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  11. Third of all, AP is not an argument for God, or even for intelligent design per se. The scientists you refer to believe, at best, that there is some unspecified cause which somehow compels the universe to culminate in the appearance of life. It’s not a design argument. But Rabbi Slifkin does (correctly) use it as a design argument. All I am saying is that if you see design in the universal fine-tuning coincidences, you need to see it no less in the human cell.

    You know what would be helpful? Instead of appealing to scientists, produce a principled distinction between the apparently design-like qualities of the universe and the apparently design-like qualities of life. If you can convince me that it makes more sense to see design in the universe than in life I will gladly make a (partial) retraction.

    I don't see any self-contradictory elements in Rav slifkins theology either. Just because the laws of how a given system operates were designed doesn't mean entities within the system have to demonstrate evidence of design as well.

    Maybe. But this is irrelevant to the matter at hand. My point is that the very same argument that compels us to believe in design as the cause for our universal constants compels us to believe in design as the cause for biological complexity.

    And also it seems that Rav Miller was talking about the reliability of getting people to see a creator. This seems to press the issue of how probable it is of getting evolutionists convinced of the theology, not if the theology was logically incoherent / inconsistent or not.

    Yes, you’re right. And yet you’re not right. I grant you that Rabbi Miller would aver that evolutionists are not likely to be convinced of the theology, but that’s because he understands that they choose to deny God. Accordingly, their choice blinds them to the truth. But my criticism is leveled against Rabbi Slifkin, a frum Jew who chooses to embrace the presence of God. He is already convinced of the theology. That’s where my point of contention finds expression. I am accusing Rabbi Slifkin of maintaining an incoherent theology, something I simply could not accuse evolutionists of.

    Bottom line? Rabbi Miller’s argument uses atheism as its point of departure whereas mine uses theism. You simply can’t compare the two.

    Continued…

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  12. Are you really so sure that Rav Miller didn't actually believe that an evolutionist can discern the trappings of design in the phenomena of the universe?


    Your question is not really relevant to our discussion but yes, I’m pretty sure. You need to read his books Avi. And you need to grow older and wiser. You are still young and naïve. The reality is, evolutionists are almost always atheists. Evolution by its very nature is a materialist theory specifically designed to provide a materialist explanation for the presence of highly complex life. Like Richard Dawkins writes: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having being designed”. The theory of evolution was specifically designed to account for this “misleading” appearance.

    Please don’t be put off by my comments. You asked me if an “evolutionist” can discern the trappings of design. Just so you know, I don’t consider you an evolutionist. If you choose to believe in Hashem while simultaneously leaving room for the possibility of evolution, I accept you as a believing Jew regardless. Halachically, I consider you “in error”, not a heretic chas v’shalom. But trust me; a real evolutionist does not believe in God. The professorships of university departments such as Paleontology and Zoology are staffed almost exclusively by atheists. I have a ton of material on this topic but now is not the time.

    Because it seems like this indeed can and does happen (at least among the evolutionists who study physics and astronomy at a very great depth).

    It doesn’t happen. And if it does, it is rare. The fact that some evolutionists are impressed with fine-tuning doesn’t mean that they’ve actually stopped to consider the monumental implications that arise from it. I didn’t have the time to read the sources you quoted, pro and con, for fine-tuning but I’ll bet the supporters of fine-tuning didn’t wax poetic about the “intelligent design” patent in the universe. But all this is irrelevant. Even if I were to concede the possibility that an evolutionist might see the Hand of God in physics, this would not mitigate the force of my argument. Rabbi Slifkin does see the Hand of God in the universe. My argument is that he should see it in life too. I would have precisely the same argument against our rare evolutionist scientist who sees God in fine-tuning.

    Avi, I’ve written a lot more than I intended. I did it in your honor. I’m sure you have some things you’d like to add and the truth is I admit I was a bit sloppy in my response. Unfortunately, I doubt I will have the time to respond to your critiques.

    I appreciate the fact that you wrote and I wish you much success in all your worthy endeavors…

    SC

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  13. Zev,

    Thank you for writing. I reviewed your comments but unfortunately found nothing there of substance to respond to.

    For the future: Comments like

    As far as point 1)… does violence to it's intended meaning.” and

    You of course would counter that the poor med student is suffering from an overdose of adoration for the academic establishment and should stick to measuring temperature degrees” and

    the glee with which I presented my argument challenging you, "by quoting none other than [your] very own rebbi, Rav Avigdor Miller" was more of a 'gotcha!' gimmick than anything else.” and

    I would like to hypothesize why you are so adamant about position.

    are highly unlikely to be responded to by me.

    If you have something of substance to contribute, I’m all ears. But comments of a personal nature are highly discouraged and will most likely be ignored by me.

    Of course, you are welcome to leave any comment you wish on this blog. Just don’t expect me to respond…

    Be well…

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  14. Hi R Coffer. I'm short on time, so let me just throw the ball back into your court.
    What was the (substantive) main point of this post? As I summed up above, RNS already responded to your original arguments. So bringing up space shuttles or brains or anything else is not to 'revisit the issue' but to REHASH your critique of RNS! Is that what you were doing when you wrote "Which brings me to the topic of this post........."?
    Please respond yes or no.
    Thanx!

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  15. Thank you for writing. I reviewed your comments but unfortunately found nothing there of substance to respond to....If you have something of substance to contribute, I’m all ears. But comments of a personal nature are highly discouraged and will most likely be ignored by me.

    No problem.

    “As far as point 1)… does violence to it's intended meaning.” and

    There was zero personal content to that comment. How much more neutrally can I say that I think your reading is untenable?

    Of course, you are welcome to leave any comment you wish on this blog. Just don’t expect me to respond…

    Thanks, I will. And I won't

    Your question is not really relevant to our discussion but yes, I’m pretty sure. You need to read his books Avi. And you need to grow older and wiser. You are still young and naïve

    1)That is a very personal comment.
    2) I HAVE read all 3 of RAM's hashkafah books and still I think you're misreading that passage.

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  16. Zev,

    Hi again. Thanks for dropping by.

    So bringing up space shuttles or brains or anything else is not to 'revisit the issue' but to REHASH your critique of RNS! Is that what you were doing when you wrote "Which brings me to the topic of this post........."?
    Please respond yes or no.


    My post had a dual purpose.
    1. I was “revisiting” our conversation and
    2. Re-stating (or in your term, rehashing) my primary objection to Rabbi Slifkin’s general approach to Evolution while demonstrating its contradictory nature from his comments about the space shuttle.
    This is all quite clear from the post.

    By the way, there’s nothing wrong with “rehashing”. Arguments are often times repeated on this blog – especially the important ones – just as they are on Rabbi Slifkin’s blog. You went to yeshiva. Think of it as chazaras ha’shiur.

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  17. Zev,

    There was zero personal content to that comment. How much more neutrally can I say that I think your reading is untenable?

    How about, “I think you misunderstood Rabbi Miller’s point”. But in point of fact, I really don’t care about your particular choice of expression. My real issue is the unwarranted and unsupported nature of your comment. You claim that I am “doing violence” to the text which implies that I am egregiously misrepresenting the author’s meaning, yet your accusation is leveled with absolutely no explanation or support in the text. My quote from Rabbi Miller states exactly what I claim it does (evolutionist’s rejection of design in life demonstrates that they are impervious to rational argumentation and thus not likely to accept fine-tuning in the univrse) and you simply dismiss it with a wave of the hand. How could you expect anyone to take such a comment seriously, much less respond to it?

    Just to clarify, my primary issue with your comments is not that they are personal. It is that they are bereft of substance. That’s what I meant by labeling them personal. I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in pointless debate regarding irrelevant matters. In the immortal words of Inspector Joe, “just the facts ma’am, just the facts”.

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    Replies
    1. Reb Simcha, before we go any further, can you please post RAM's entire page 30? I think it crazy that you simply quoted the youth responding to the sage( which is why you had to insert the brackets) AND you ignore the youth's reply "we should make the attempt". Then we can discuss who is 'egregiously misrepresenting the author’s meaning'

      "In the immortal words of Inspector Joe, “just the facts ma’am, just the facts”."

      Can you please post the entire context of RAM's words? To modify a phrase- the dialogue, the whole dialogue, and nothing but the dialogue.

      I think it would be more fruitful to let RAM speak for himself instead of just selecting half the dialogue- there by necessitating your explanatory brackets [of convincing evolutionists that the universe cannot be attributed to chance naturalistic mechanisms and therefore clearly testifies to a Designer – sc]





      Delete
    2. Again, I'm requesting that you post paragraphs 61-63 in their entirety, so people can read the flow of RAM's words. I note that even the quote that you post- the 'sage' in paragraph in 61- starts in mid sentence. At least write " ....I fear that even this (the argument from the fine-tuned laws of nature - sc) will be ignored by them." , so people know that you're splicing a dialogue.

      Also can you please clarify whether your main point in this post was to be mechadesgh anything, or simply to reiterate your earlier criticisms?


      Thanks very much.

      Delete
  18. Zev,

    I apologize for the delay in responding. My time is not my own.

    Again, I'm requesting that you post paragraphs 61-63 in their entirety, so people can read the flow of RAM's words.

    I quoted the passages I considered relevant. If you believe I quoted out of context, you are welcome to type out the above-noted paragraphs in the comment section for all to see.

    Also can you please clarify whether your main point in this post was to be mechadesgh anything, or simply to reiterate your earlier criticisms?

    Why do you ask? What’s the difference? Notwithstanding, here’s my response.
    The “main point” of this post is twofold:

    a) To provide a response to your challenge (over Succos)
    b) To revisit my past objection to Rabbi Slifkin’s theology in view of the current remarks he makes in his post.

    I trust this suffices.

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  19. "I apologize for the delay in responding. My time is not my own."

    No need to apologize to anyone besides your wife for wasting time blogging with me :)

    "I quoted the passages I considered relevant."

    You very selectively quoted.

    " If you believe I quoted out of context, you are welcome to type out the above-noted paragraphs in the comment section for all to see."

    You know I'm not doing that. I type with one finger and don't have a scanner. Don't you want people to read your rebbi's words in context?


    "Why do you ask? What’s the difference? "
    Because I've trying to figure out what the heck the point of "topic of this post." is, other than a rehash.

    "The “main point” of this post is twofold:
    a) To provide a response to your challenge (over Succos)"

    And you've done that by censoring out part of RAM's dialogue (with himself)?! Seriously?

    "To revisit my past objection to Rabbi Slifkin’s theology in view of the current remarks he makes in his post. "

    I wish you would have said that earlier. You could've saved us both time by simply saying "I've written 4 posts on what's wrong with RNS's theology. I said it was irrational. It's still irrational . And if he republishes his book on perek shirah he's irrational there too."

    No need to respond of course...


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