Con (Theist) Will Not Fulfill His/Her Burden of Proof in Establishing The Existence Of God
The debates about whether or not a God exists has been raging on ever since mankind first invented the idea. Regardless of all the excruciating work theists have put into proving their God, none have ever actually met their burden of proof. In this debate Con will present his/her best arguments and/or supporting evidence for the existence of God. I (Pro) will do my best to show that Con's arguments/evidence are not sufficient to establish with any proof or probable certainty that any Gods exists. The rules and definitions for this debate are as follows:
God - A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)
Exist - To have actual being; be real. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)
1) 10,000 characters will be allotted for each round of debate. All arguments and sources must be made within these 10,000 characters; nothing within in the comment section should be counted. Any glitch which would allow a debater to bypass this 10,000 character limit is strictly prohibited (an example would be posting a picture with an overwhelming amount of text).
2) Any tactic which could be reasonably seen as semantics is forbidden.
3) The burden of proof is held by Con!
4) The debate has 5 rounds and there is 72 hours for each side to post their arguments. Con will present his/her opening arguments/evidence in Round 1 but will not make any more arguments or rebuttals in Round 5. This is only fair as I am not making any arguments or rebuttals in round 1 while Con is. Con can post a civil "thank you for the debate" of some sort in Round 5 but absolutely no arguments or rebuttals.
5) Con need not show that all theists that ever existed have not fulfilled their burden of proof, rather the point of the debate is to show that Con will not fulfill his/her theistic burden of proof sufficient to establish the existence of God. If Con shows evidence and/or arguments to which I cannot refute then I will forfeight the debate.
Breaking any of these rules will result in an automatic loss (via voters awarding all 7 points to the other participant). By accepting this debate, my opponent accepts and agrees to the rules. I would prefer Con to accept the definitions above before accepting the debate. I would also prefer to debate against a genuine believer who debates with respect and intellectual honesty. I have no more further requests so let the debate begin! I thank Con in advance for accepting, and I hope we can have a civil and stimulating debate!
I will be arguing for the existence of the Jewish G-d.
Before I start, I would like to make a slight disclaimer. Proof, as my opponent asks for, could be considered to some as life-altering. Should there be proof to the existence of G-d, a viewer might feel an obligation to follow His commandments. As I have accepted the burden of proof and expect to give it, I have put myself in a rather precarious situation. There might be a considerable bias coming from anyone that does not believe in an exclusively Jewish G-d, and I just ask that people reading try to keep that in mind. And obviously, any observant Jew should keep their own bias in mind when reading. (It might be interesting to note, however, that Judaism does not seek to actively convert others. A non-Jewish person can go to heaven, just as a Jewish person can go to hell. )
Please note that this disclaimer is not said to insult anyone, assume superiority over a single person, or suggest that anyone doesn't think logically (though it may be presumptuous of me, despite all that). Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, however, I felt it necessary to be clear about the above. Thanks to all the readers and I hope I meet your standards for this debate.
My argument is based on the Kuzari Principle. I will write each point, then proceed to go through them, one by one, expanding on each principle.
If a reliable witness, person-m, for example, witnesses an event, (event-n) and a continuous chain of reliable sources passes on person-m's testimony, then, given certain conditions (concerning the composition of the chain, the validity of person-m's claims, and the original observation's details) we have good reason to believe that event-n transpired.
The validity of such a claim increases in relation to the number of witnesses that claim to have witnessed the event first-hand.
The Biblical Narrative states that G-d spoke to the entirety of the Jewish Nation at Mount Sinai and that they were all witness to the miraculous events that transpired at Mount Sinai.
Jewish History, as well as the Jewish biblical narrative, evidence that the Jews passed the story of mass-revelation, uninterrupted, on to every ensuing generation following the revelation at Sinai.
Given the above points, there is good rationale for the belief that there is a Jewish G-d.
Now, on to the explanations:
P1 is pretty clear cut. In other, simpler words: if someone says something happened, they are a reliable source, and this information is passed on without significant interruptions, then it can be assumed that the information is reliable. This point, however, does have a flaw, being that the validity of the original source is still ambiguous because one person, (no matter how reliable their information), may have biased cause for relating the event. Which brings us to:
P2: The more people involved, the greater chance information being conveyed is legitimate. The reason for this is due to the varying differences in human personalities. While it may suit several people's needs to fabricate a story, it would not suit thousands of people's needs to pretend an event occurred when it didn't.
P3: I will now bring sources from the Jewish Bible (Torah) that state explicitly the revelation was witnessed by all present a Mount Sinai (approximately 2.5 million Jews (http://www.bible.ca...) were present.):
Exodus 19:9; and the LORD said unto Moses: Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee forever.
Exodus 19:11; and be ready against the third day, for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
Deuteronomy 5:4; The LORD spoke with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire
(http://www.mechon-mamre.org...) and (http://www.mechon-mamre.org...)
P4: This is ultimately the crux of the issue. However, before we go into proofs I'd like to explain why this is so important. If at any point throughout Jewish history the transmission of mass revelation was dependent on one person, then the claim immediately looses authenticity. Why? Because at that point the testimony isn't really that of multitudes, rather, validity rests solely on the shoulders of the individual claiming mass revelation. We once again fall into the problem that said individual may be biased, not have witnessed the event accurately, or may have fabricated. (As a reminder, as the number of witnesses increases, so does the likelihood of the story.)
Now, this should be able to apply to other religions as well, and it does. The Mormon religious texts, for example, state that Jesus appeared to multitudes of people in North America. Based on the above, it would seem we should believe that as well. However, it is also accepted within the Mormon tradition that Joseph Smith - an individual - was responsible for translating these texts from golden plates written in an unknown language (that he subsequently lost the ability to translate them). Once the testimony of thousands rests on the shoulders of one, it is no longer the testimony of thousands, but the testimony of one.
Now, if the revelation at Sinai is to be considered false, that would have to mean that at some point in Jewish history (after the mass revelation) a single individual was responsible for the transmission of the Torah. But that is not the case. Firstly, in Judaism, there is an oral and written Torah. They go hand in hand, each helping to broaden the others concepts. The oral Torah, which is mostly significant because it represents the tradition of transmission, 'was memorized verbatim and passed down orally in an unbroken chain from generation to generation... According to Jewish tradition.' (http://en.wikipedia.org...) Secondly, at no point throughout Jewish history has transmission ever been dependent upon the word of a single individual after the revelation at Sinai. (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
Mass revelation is a belief permeated throughout Orthodox Jewry. (http://www.myjewishlearning.com...) and (http://www.simpletoremember.com...) and (http://www.chabad.org...)
P5: Is a culmination of all the above and hopefully self-explanatory.
From here I'd like to offer some possible refutations and explain why they are next to impossible.
Assuming that the story of revelation isn't true, we must ask ourselves how it came about to be accepted within Jewish tradition. There are a number of possible circumstances:
C1) The Jewish nation lied to their children about these events/Moses lied to the Jewish people about what happened.
C2) The Jewish people were tricked into believing these events were Divinely Inspired. Now, note here, this implies that events as substantiated by the Jewish nation did occur, just, they were of natural causes (i.e. I have heard that the events at Sinai could have been a national drug trip).
C3) The most common, and likely answer: Like a game of 'broken telephone' the story could have been adapted/altered over time to include mass revelation.
C1: This can be easily refuted because, once again, when we are discussing such a large magnitude of people, there is no reason they should all willingly lie to their children. And there is no way Moses could have convinced 2.5 million people that G-d spoke to them. Remember, when the number of people involved increases, so does the likelihood that any fabrication will be discovered.
C2: The problem with this circumstance supposes that it was a natural event. Natural events are reoccurring, but why has a similar event never occurred again? In the example of the national drug trip, why is it that no other sizable group of people claimed to experience G-d through a national drug trip (or any other supposed possibility)? This leads to the implication that it was NOT a natural event, rather a supernatural one.
C3: This argument carries the most weight, but I'd like to diminish the impact of such an argument. A Torah scroll can be considered invalid even for the minutest of reasons. A missing letter invalidates the Torah scroll, letters written too close to one another invalidates it, an extra letter would be cause for invalidation, as would exchanging two letters. (www.torah.net/eng/kids/know/torah.htm) Because of this, the Torah transmission has been known to be remarkably precise. 'The proof that the copies of the original documents have been handed down with substantial 35 correctness for more than 2,000 years cannot be denied', writes Dr. Wilson in his book, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament. (http://www.bible-researcher.com...)
I conclude here with my arguments and hope this is sufficient enough to garner a good response. Thanks to my opponent for providing such an environment for rational discourse.
I thank my opponent for her acceptance and her success in establishing an interesting and well thought-out argument for the existence of God. However, this argument is inductive rather than deductive which means that the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises. I point this out as an innate flaw and a ground to posit that it can never be considered an absolute proof. Other arguments concerning the existence of a God, like the ontological argument, are deductive and would serve as absolute proof if their premises were true, but fortunately they are not. Now, I know that I have outlined a specific definition for God in this debate however I think it fair that I do not hold Con to show proof of omniscience, omnibenevolence, and omnipotence. The colloquial definition of the Jewish God which includes a God that gave the Jewish people the Torah, spoke to them at Mount Sinai, and so on, suffices.
The argument at first glance may seem reasonable but upon further inspection it has some lethal presuppositions and issues that Con did not seem to discuss. Another gaping flaw is that the argument itself can easily be used against Judaism to support any other religious miracles such as the revelation of Jesus or the splitting of the moon by Mohammad. I will show as in all cases that the natural explanations are always more likely than the supernatural ones, and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
I would first like to point out that the most dangerous presuppositions to accept is that all 2.5 million Jews were present at the supposed event. My opponent uses a rather biased and unreliable source to get this number (bible.ca). Who exactly was it that estimated these numbers? Can you give me the names of at least 100 individuals present (or reference them)? Why would I or anyone else accept these estimates from anecdotal evidence alone, sourced by ancient texts (like the Torah) that are known to be unreliable in themselves? Don’t these texts lose some credibility due to the fact that they are all copies of copies with no originals most of which are written by anonymous authors? Are there any underlying motives to fabricate such a claim? Do any outside sources confirm this miracle? Answers to these questions are of utmost importance to establishing the validity of the Sinai event.
Skepticism & Naturalistic Explanations
I must posit that the evidence laid out by my opponent is not sufficient to establish that the event actually occurred as foretold or that the Jewish God must exist as a corollary. All miraculous events must be scrutinized to its utmost as they all have an inherently low epistemic possibility. Why is this? Because a supernatural event (miracle) is the suspension of the natural order of our universe. If you witness a supernatural event first hand you must ask yourself this: “What is more likely? That the natural order of the universe has been suspended in my favor? Or that I have made a mistake.” This question must be asked by any truth-seeking skeptic and with double the force for any event that you have not seen first-hand. This question must apply with double the force to everyone currently reading this unless you are to say that another miraculous event has taken place and that you are in fact thousands of years old and witnessed it yourself. The more plausible explanations for this event include:
1) The event never took place; it began as a myth, legend, or lie which grew in popularity over time.
2) One individual hallucinated or lied about the event and started the myth.
3) A small group of individuals hallucinated or lied about the event and started the myth.
In ancient times superstition and supernatural claims were the norm and skepticism wasn’t. Because of this situation it was quite common for a myth to begin with a small group and rapidly spread to large populations. If this is not the same explanation my opponent uses to discard other religions and widespread supernatural beliefs then I would sincerely like to know what is. I would agree that the larger the audience the less likely that the event was hallucinated but there are a few examples in history which show it possible. The Miracle of the Sun supposedly occurred with 30,000 to 100,000 people (http://en.wikipedia.org...). However, no astronomer verified any of these “extraordinary solar activity” claims. They are most easily explained as perceived experiences that happened strictly within each individuals mind, which explains the variety of claims and it’s inconsistency with the scientific data. I uphold that the Sinai event could have happened in very similar way and is even more likely considering the possibility that 2.5 million people were not all there. Regardless of how carefully my opponent lays out a precise transmission of the Torah over generations, we will never be able to directly compare how much it has changed because there are no originals.
Establishing the Validity Historical Claims
It is reasonable to agree with point #2 of my opponent which states that: “The validity of such a claim increases in relation to the number of witnesses that claim to have witnessed the event first-hand.” However the validity of the claim relies on a few more parameters of great importance. These parameters and their relevancy to the Sinai claim are outlined below:
1) The epistemic probability for all miracles is quite low because absolutely none of them have been demonstrated or accepted through empirical and scientific grounds. Anyone can come up with a miracle however nobody has ever proved that one occurred. I must also point out that the God of ancient monotheisms had allegedly created gigantic and stupendous miracles in ancient times (like the splitting of the sea), but in modern times where scientific methods and technology with recording capabilities have developed, God seems to have gotten tired and only small miracles are claimed to have occurred to no avail. The only source for the Mount Sinai claim comes from the Jewish Bible also called the Torah. However, the Torah claims many other events which are absolutely absurd and admitted to be untrue (or only parables) by even the religious. Examples would include Noah’s Ark, talking snakes, and the ten plagues subjected to the Egyptians.
One of the most significant examples though is the claim that it was witnessed that Sun stood still for one whole day written in Joshua 10:13 (1. http://www.chabad.org..., using a Jewish website so nobody can accuse me of biased references). This claim, just like the Mount Sinai event, is another miraculous and public event. It is quite peculiar to me why my opponent chooses to emphasize the Sinai event over the standing Sun even though the Sun event must have been witnessed by the entirety of everyone in the world. Scientifically this doesn’t make sense as we now know the earth rotates around the Sun, so for these people to see a stationary Sun either the Sun must be orbiting around the earth, or the earth must have stopped rotating. Both are equally ridiculous scientific absurdities that breach every law of gravitation known to man. Furthermore, an event of celestial magnitude such as this could not have gone unnoticed. The main point that I would like to express is that no other culture in existence (including the ones with refined writings systems and cosmic awareness) has ever recorded this event ever taking place. The glaring and obvious answer to this dilemma is that the Sun event never took place, and it is exactly because the Sinai event originates from the same unreliable source that I find it insufficient and unconvincing to ever claim that the Sinai miracle was real. On top of all of this, the fact that the Mount Sinai event does not have any confirmation from any other outside sources automatically reduces it’s epistemic probability now to the lowest degree.
2) The reliability of a source depends on its logical coherence. Therefore, a source riddled with contradictions is not a very reliable one. Unfortunately, I can only site about 2 inconsistencies in the Torah from over 100 of them due to my character limits:
1. Man was created equal, male and female. Gen.1:27.
Woman was created as a companion to the man only after he rejected the animals. Gen. 2:18-24.
2. Man was created after the plants. Gen.1:12, 26.
Man was created before the plants. Gen.2:5-9.
3) Sources are more reliable if the author has a generally good reputation for telling the truth, and does not have underlying motives. So far we have seen that many miraculous claims of the Torah most likely did not happen and thus the authors have questionable integrity. Another key influence to the acceptance of this myth is that the Jewish people have a deep underlying motive to accept this miracle which will be used as a root to support and establish any other tenants and stories written by my Jewish ancestors. In the end, the Kuzari principle supports an illusion the Jewish people must believe and cannot afford to live without.
Although my opponent has a well-outlined argument, I think I showed enough reasons as to elucidate why her argument does not stand when faced against science and skeptical inquiry. The sources of the claims are insufficient to use as evidence and unreliable in essence. The Sinai claim does not pass any of the criteria for assuring the validity of a historical claim. I must also note that even if I somehow admitted that this event may have took place (which is exceedingly unlikely) my opponent has yet to prove how these people surely know that the words they heard was uttered by the Jewish God and was not some loud and deceptive person. Again, I thank my opponent for the interesting debate and await her response.
Firstly, the use of inductive reasoning by no means de-legitimizes the claim. Scientific theories themselves are products of inductive reasoning and "...when several sound arguments lead to agreement on the same conceptual model, the odds against the theory being wrong become so extremely small that for all practical purposes there can be no other answer." (http://dinosaurtheory.com...)
I appreciate Pro's acceptance of the definition of a Jewish G-d for the purpose of the debate; frankly, proving that omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence are not contradictory a) often involves a lot of philosophical and semantic-ridden discussion and, b) doesn't prove that G-d does exist, just that He can under those definitions.
In response to the 'dangerous presuppositions', I'd like to note that many questions concerning reliability of the Torah have actually been addressed within the Kuzari Principle itself. Given that at there is never an individual responsible for transmission of the Torah after the revelation at Sinai, lends tremendously to its credibility. This is because, assuming it is a lie, there are three possibilities for what form the lie took:
1) Past lie - this is where the lie is placed in a past setting, i.e., 'G-d spoke to your ancestors at Mount Sinai'.
2) Present lie - this lie is placed in a present setting, i.e., 'G-d just spoke to you at at Mount Sinai'.
3) Future lie - this would take the form of 'One day G-d will speak to you or your children at Mount Sinai.'
Past lie is problematic because it is easily verifiable. At whatever point in Jewish history (assuming the revelation is false) someone, say Moses, tries to convince a few followers that their ancestors heard G-d speak, they can check with their parents and grandparents to confirm that there indeed was (or wasn't) a tradition of mass revelation. If, in fact, it was simply fabricated, then the lie falls away. In order to convince his followers, Moses would then have to come up with an explanation of why their family members don't remember it (a natural disaster killed off all those present at the revelation, they all forgot, the Torah was lost, etc.). Note that we do not have a record of any such gap or period of 'misinformation'. Also note that this scenario requires a point in Jewish History where transmission IS dependent on an individual.
Present lie is equally problematic because, once again, there are no periods in Jewish history where we rely on the testimony of a single person for transmission. (www.odyeda.com/English/JewishTimeline.html) So, the possibility of Moses managing to convince 600,000 men that they just heard G-d speak are remote, to say the least.
Future lie is not a possibility because of the form with which it is presented. The Jewish nation does not believe that G-d WILL speak to them, rather, that he DID.
My opponent also claims that this same argument could also be used to support other religions. That premise is incorrect, however. Judaism is unique in its mass revelation - a revelation where G-d Himself is known to have spoken with everyone present. No other religion claims mass revelation with an uninterrupted timeline. I gave an example in the previous round of the Mormon faith, where despite a tradition of G-d appearing to multiple people, the claim is invalid because we only know these stories on the account of Joseph Smith, an INDIVIDUAL. As Pro mentions, the splitting of the moon is also a religious miracle, but is also one that has little validity. The Koran, is based off of the divine revelations of Mohammad - an INDIVIDUAL. (http://en.wikipedia.org...) The base of Christianity starts when Paul (yes, another individual) has a vision of the resurrected Jesus and converts. Paul is also the originator of much of the New Testament. A clear theme throughout religion in general is a single person claiming divine revelation. Judaism is the only religion that doesn't fall into that category.
Moving onto Pro's arguments concerning skepticism and naturalistic explanations, my opponent makes some very interesting arguments. A closer look at the question, 'What is more likely? That the natural order of the universe has been suspended in my favor? Or that I have made a mistake?', reveals circular logic. The implication of the question essentially precludes the possibility of a supernatural event occurring in the first place. Much of the argument assumes that supernatural events by definition cannot occur at all.
On the contrary, as stated in the previous round, natural events are reoccurring. But never has another sizable nation claimed to witness G-d firsthand and lived to talk about it. If, in fact, the revelation could be explained naturally, then history should be replete with stories of numerous nations experiencing mass revelation.
Many of the explanations Pro gives in regards to possibilities of the origins of Judaism were already addressed in the previous round (in the different sets of circumstances I present), however, I will go over them again.
1. This is essentially 'Circumstance 3', where the myth is adapted over time. I decrease the validity of such an argument by showing the precise transmission of the Torah throughout the generations. And once again, the problem with this myth growing in validity over time is the ability of all involved Jews to verify such stories with their parents and grandparents. Such a lie can be 'checked', so to speak.
2. I've explained already in this round how one individual starting the myth is not a possible explanation for Judaism. There has not been any point in Jewish history where transmission is dependent upon one person.
3. Once again, the problem here is the possibility of verification. A claim of such magnitude can surely be verified and this is an integral point. Assuming the story is NOT true, then the lie could never propagate. It would fall by the wayside. Other myths that survived, however, COULD NOT be verified because the claim rested on the testimony of exceedingly small numbers of individuals.
The Miracle of the Sun was not an event I was familiar with, so I spent some time researching it. It's interesting to note that the newspaper reporters in attendance collecting testimonies didn't see anything themselves. There was no mass claim of experiencing G-d, rather, reports involved the sun shifting and changing colors in a seemingly 'unnatural' way. However, reports varied tremendously - there wasn't a unified statement of what had occurred. Scientists said the visions could just have occurred by staring for a prolonged period of time at the sun. It's interesting to note that the event was only accepted as a miracle by the Roman Catholic Church 13 years after it's occurrence. And Pope Pius XII, an INDIVIDUAL, claimed to have seen it from the Vatican Gardens. The event as a religious symbol certainly meets the standards of possible, if not probable, falsification.
In regards to epistemic probability, I'd like to point out that though no one has proven a miracle occurred through the natural laws of science it's probably because a miracle defies the laws of natural science. Once again, this is circular reasoning. Assuming a miracle must fit in with the laws of science is a prerequisite for such an argument. You can't use a tool to create something that cannot be created by that tool.
Pro brings up the story of Joshua and the standing sun. Firstly, there are other cultures in existence that have records of the event taking place. (http://sunnyokanagan.com...), (http://www.icr.org...) Secondly, I didn't bring that up because the story alone doesn't prove the exclusivity of a Jewish G-d. Considering the revelation happened before the Sun was suspended for a day, and the revelation is a proof of a Jewish G-d, I use that as my primary source. In addition, the story of revelation was a) witnessed by the entire Jewish nation and b) is a story within Judaism where it is specified to initiate a chain of transmission. Such a chain is not true of the story of Joshua. (http://philosophyofjudaism.blogspot.co.il... - see G1 and G2)
Any seeming inconsistency within the Torah is there to imply things aren't as clear-cut as they seem. The first 'inconsistency' Pro points out explains that Adam was originally created as an hermaphrodite , and then split into two. (http://www.jewishanswers.org...)
As for the questionable integrity, saying that the proof is 'an illusion the Jewish people must believe and cannot afford to live without,' also presupposes its false-ness. That would be like me saying any evidence scientists have for evolution is because they can't afford to live without it. If the evidence for mass revelation of the Jewish people is true, then it's true - not because they can't afford to live without it, but because it's true. If it's not true, then the argument will fall by the wayside on its own.
I'm not really sure how some 'loud and deceptive' person could have managed to convince the entire Jewish nation that they had just experienced G-d firsthand. The burden of proof is for me to establish evidence for the Jewish G-d, and I think I've enumerated quite a bit on how this could not have been a deception.
If Pro notices any arguments were not responded to, feel free to point that out as it was not my intention to skip them over. I'm concluding with 3 characters, so there's not room for much else, anyway.
I'd like to thank Pro for his arguments; they were well-thought out and provided plenty of extra research for me. :D Looking forward to your next argument.
I thank Con for her detailed response; let’s get right into it then.
Inductive Arguments & Ockham’s Razor
Con claims that her use of inductive reasoning to support the God claim does not delegitimize the claim in any way. She cites scientific theories and explains how they are supported by inductive reasoning as well. This is indeed correct however the God claim is not a theory at all, it is a hypothesis. For a hypothesis to develop into a theory the hypothesis has to be tested multiple times and it has to predict natural phenomena among other things. The claim at Mount Sinai (which is supposed to establish that a God exists), cannot be tested even once, and it gives no predictive explanation for future phenomenon. It is nothing more than an unfalsifiable assumption/hypothesis that has never throughout the advent of science been demonstrated to exist. Con would love to claim that her analogy would compare her argument to something as well-respected as a scientific theory but it doesn’t even come close.
Unfortunately I forgot to address a very important principle of parsimony that catches the main gist of my counter-argument. This principle is called Ockham’s razor (http://goo.gl...) and it plainly states that among competing hypothesis, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Stated in another form, the simplest hypothesis is the more informative one because less information is required to answer one’s question. It is a widely upheld principle in fields ranging from science, to logic, and even economics. When applied to Con’s argument her God hypothesis falls apart. According to Ockham, any of the 3 possible alternatives to the Mount Sinai event that I have suggest (so far) are all more likely to be true than the God hypothesis. Why is this? Because the God hypothesis has by far the most assumptions and creates more questions than it comes to answer. When God is used as a hypothesis we have to ask how exactly did God communicate at Mount Sinai? Is he all powerful? Why is he all powerful? How does a supernatural being effect the natural universe? How did God come into being in the first place? The assumptions go on ad infinitum. My alternatives however are natural events and as such they require no supernatural assumptions, therefore they are more likely to be true.
In response to Con’s inductive rebuttal I would like to ask: Why wouldn’t God want us to establish his existence with reliable and testable evidence or even better, some full proof deductive argument? If God really did exist I see no reason as to why he would take such strides to hide himself so carefully. Wouldn’t he want as many people as possible to be certain of his existence and to follow his teachings to progress our world? All these questions are easily answered by any atheist and are in snug correspondence to Ockham’s razor as well.
Con claims that Judaism is unique in its mass revelation but I have yet to see any credible sources from Con that the entire Jewish population was even there. Anecdotal evidence from scripture alone is not sufficient to believe it either. According to Con’s Kuzari Principle we should also believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as it is written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6 (http://goo.gl...). It says that a large crowd of more than 500 eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus Christ at the same time. This is directly analogous to Con’s claim of a Jewish nation hearing God at Mount Sinai, and has it has the same source of evidence in an anecdotal form. Perhaps it is not as many people but 500 is still a hefty amount, and who is to arbitrarily choose how many witnesses are necessary to believe an event? What Con does is makes some kind of special pleading case in support of her religion while rejecting all other public miracles for every other religion. This method of argumentation is not only biased but intellectually dishonest.
Con also goes on to capitalize the word INDIVIDUAL when asserting that a miracle was accounted to by one person. I must point out to her that the miracles and stories listed in the Torah are written by INDIVIDUALS. Moses was an INDIVIDUAL who claimed many supernatural miracles. Noah was an INDIVIDUAL. Abraham was an INDIVIDUAL as well. I must also ask at this point, do you believe the Noah’s Ark story actually happened? Because if it did happen, and it happened after the Mount Sinai event, then there is a time period when the transmission of all of Jewish history rested upon only EIGHT people. These people would include Noah, his wife, his three sons, and his son’s wives.
Con: “Past lie is problematic because it is easily verifiable. At whatever point in Jewish history (assuming the revelation is false) someone, say Moses, tries to convince a few followers that their ancestors heard G-d speak, they can check with their parents and grandparents to confirm that there indeed was (or wasn't) a tradition of mass revelation.”
If Moses says their great great ancestors heard God speak there is no way to verify this claim, one’s grandparents could not even verify it assuming they were even alive. Over two thousand years ago the life expectancy of people was very low such that being alive at the same time with one’s grandparents was a rare occurrence, thus leading more credence for an impossible to verify claim. The new Jewish idea (during ancient times) of a single God that can explain everything is also a very tempting idea to believe in the first place. It would make more sense to believe in this seemingly ultimate explanation in a time where nobody knew about evolution, the germ theory of disease, or how natural disasters come to fruition. The biggest weakness though with the God hypothesis is exactly because it is unfalsifiable; it seemingly explains everything but explains nothing with any useful or predictive explanatory power. I could accomplish the same task of explaining the mysteries of everything by positing the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent Genie that created the universe and subsequent miracles through magic. The claim is equally unfalsifiable, explains everything, but has no predictive explanatory power as a scientific theory would.
Con: “'What is more likely? That the natural order of the universe has been suspended in my favor? Or that I have made a mistake?', reveals circular logic. The implication of the question essentially precludes the possibility of a supernatural event occurring in the first place. Much of the argument assumes that supernatural events by definition cannot occur at all.”
Con doesn’t seem to understand what circular reasoning is. It is a logical fallacy where the argument begins with a premise that has the conclusion already embedded into it. What I did is nothing of the sort, I am simply stating that both supernatural and natural events are possible but if one believes they have witnessed a supernatural event, they should be a little more skeptical of it because it is so very rare. Natural events are by essence much more likely as they are rigorously consistent and are constantly verified through science. If a modern magician of today’s skill where to go back in time and deploy their arsenal of magic tricks nearly everyone would believe he has some sort of supernatural powers, but they would all be wrong. Science and skepticism is our best hope at fighting against such impossible to explain scenarios.
Con: “In regards to epistemic probability, I'd like to point out that though no one has proven a miracle occurred through the natural laws of science it's probably because a miracle defies the laws of natural science. Once again, this is circular reasoning. Assuming a miracle must fit in with the laws of science is a prerequisite for such an argument. You can't use a tool to create something that cannot be created by that tool.”
Again, it is easy to see that Con does not have a firm understanding of how to distinguish between what is and what is not circular reasoning. Miracles have never been demonstrated not because they break the laws of natural science, but because they have simply never been recorded with any instrument known to man. Obviously God splitting the seas and most other miracles would be directly recordable by many different devices even if they break the laws of nature. Therefore, Con is blatantly wrong I do not presuppose that a miracle must fit in with “laws” of science I say something quite opposite. It is definitely possible but has never been demonstrated.
Con: “Pro brings up the story of Joshua and the standing sun. Firstly, there are other cultures in existence that have records of the event taking place.” (Proceeds two cite two unreliable sources).
Con has just cited two ridiculous sources one is from an obviously unreliable and biased creationist website. The other is not very well known but is written by a man named William Andrew Cecil Bennett. This is what Mr. Bennett has to say in his article:
“NASA may not have discovered Joshua's long day, but I certainly have. The truth is obvious. Earth has gone into and out of reverse orbits many many times. There may have been sun miracles every 7 years. Then there may be about 1000 sun miracles since 2700 BC.”
I refuse to allow Con cite such ridiculous nonsense and try to get away with it. This man claims his knowledge is superior to that of all the experts at NASA and does so by claiming it is obvious?! He has no supporting evidence or scientific background! The only thing obvious is that Andrew has a specific agenda to assert his miracles as true regardless of whatever science is thrown in his face. It is frustrating that Con continues to use untrustworthy sources throughout this debate and I only hope that the readers go look at them and see for themselves how unreliable they really are.
Firstly, I'd like to make a blanket apology to Pro and to the readers regarding the sources used for evidence of Joshua's standing sun. My opponent was correct in saying that they were both unreliable. I, myself, am actually appalled at the nonsense sited in the second source, and can only take full responsibility for not reading the source properly before posting it. I'd like to offer my sincerest apologies and assurance that it will not happen again.
My purpose in bringing up scientific theories was not, as Con suggested, to compare my argument to, say, the theory of evolution or any other scientific theory. It was to show that there is a validity in inductive reasoning and as long as I can bring relevant facts supporting my position, the inductive reasoning behind my argument alone should not be a reason to discredit the argument.
While an interesting argument, there are a few major problems here. One, the majority of questions Pro ask concern the existence of G-d, not the revelation at Sinai. Two, it assumes there ARE more questions involved in my theory as opposed to my opponent's. Assuming Con is correct, then how did the lie start? Was it with an individual or a group? How did it spread over time? How would a group of people come to believe a fabrication that is easily verifiable? Last but not least, 'in science, Occam's razor is used as a heuristic (general guiding rule or an observation) to guide scientists in the development of theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models. In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result.' (http://en.wikipedia.org...'s_razor) as such, applying Ockham's Razor to my arguments, does not, in fact, make them 'fall apart'.
In response to Pro's rhetorical question, I answer, (somewhat humorously, granted) only G-d knows. I often hear questions like these, (Why would G-d let there be evil in the world? Why doesn't He appear to us all?) but they unfortunately are not valid questions to ask in relation to the problem. The idea of an all-knowing G-d take away any authenticity to questions like this because the questions presuppose that we know what the proper way to run the world is. This also falls into the category of philosophical discussion and even if I were to provide an answer, wouldn't support my argument in any which way.
The claim that this is a case of special pleading is incorrect. I outlined several characteristics in the previous rounds that make my argument unique to Judaism. The transmission of every other religion can be traced back to an INDIVIDUAL. (By the way, I capitalize for emphasis. The device I'm currently using does not support rich format, so I cannot italicize.) In the previous round, I went through several well-known religions showing how, at some point in their history, one person was responsible for transmission.
In regards to the example Pro brings (this is also mentioned in the previous round), Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, including Corinthians, gets his credentials because he experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus and subsequently converted. He then received the Gospel from Jesus himself. This means that we must believe Paul hasn't just made this up in order to place any credibility in the story. I challenge Pro to come up with another religion containing a tradition of mass revelation that was not dependent on the word of one person for transmission.
Though Abraham and Noah were indeed individuals, the stories related about them come BEFORE the story of mass revelation. Even assuming that all the stories about them are false, we cannot explain the revelation away because transmission of the Torah was never dependent on an individual after that point.
Considering I have not been using special pleading to argue the Kuzari Principle, that principle still legitimizes the authenticity of the Torah. I'd like to explain briefly why mass revelation is such an issue to get around. The oldest surviving Hebrew bible manuscripts date back to 2nd Century BCE. (http://en.wikipedia.org...) This is around the time period Alexander the Great lived. Assuming someone introduced the texts at that point, how does he convince multitudes of people that G-d spoke to their ancestors at Mt. Sinai? Despite the low life expectancy, though Pro seems to leave this out, there is still a possibility of verifying such a story with one's parents. If I say I magically levitated in the air and received divine inspiration from G-d, though you can't prove that to be true, you couldn't prove it to be untrue either. However, if I said your cousins saw me levitate in the air, that could easily be checked. The claim brought by the Jewish people is verifiable. A story as integral as mass revelation is something that would be passed down through the generations. So how would this person trying to convince people to convert to Judaism explain why their parents never heard anything about a mass revelation?
I'm not sure what evidence Pro is looking for, and perhaps I didn't have a firm understanding of what circular reasoning was. I had assumed Pro was implying miracles can't happen because they don't obey the natural laws of science, which, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, is circular reasoning. Though, he did explain that was not his intention, so the error comes in of my understanding of his initial argument. Thanks for clearing that up.
Once again, I'm not sure what evidence my opponent is looking for. There are stories of remains of chariot wheels in the Red Sea, suggesting the crossing of the Red Sea was, indeed, accurate. (http://www.wnd.com...)
Also, in regards to Joshua's 'stopping sun', I am now providing what I believe to be a reliable source for other testimonies throughout history. The article in question notes that there are many stories also of a 'standing moon' in history, which would be appropriate considering only one side of the earth gets sunlight at a time. (http://www.geocentricity.com...)
Initially, I had though there were two ways to go about refuting my arguments. One, in claiming the method I used was faulty. Two, in showing that at some point after the mass revelation in Jewish history, transmission was dependent on the word of an individual.
I have only a few minutes to post, so I'll end here for now.
Thanks to Pro for his rebuttals and I look forward to his response!
I thank Con for her honest concession to the use of two unreliable sources, and her perseverance in finding two others. However, I do not think one to be reliable (the website advocating the standing sun) as it does not come from a scientifically literate basis, it comes from a geocentricity website written by “biblical astronomers.” They are unreliable at face value because geocentricity is the belief that the Sun rotates about the Earth. All the real astronomy done by NASA and pretty much every other secular non-biased astronomy organization has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Earth rotates about the Sun.
Ockham’s razor states that we must not multiply assumptions beyond necessity. Ockham’s razor is not about how many questions can be asked for each theory (as Con advocates), it is a heuristic that helps in many cases to decide which hypothesis to choose. Con states: “the majority of questions Pro ask concern the existence of G-d, not the revelation at Sinai.” I again clarify that for the revelation at Sinai to occur as Con states (with everyone hearing God) we MUST assume that this God exists. Therefore, the questions I ask are necessary resultants of the assumptions produced by Con’s God hypothesis. Take the example of the explanation for the diversity of life on Earth. One possibility is that evolution through natural selection occurred through completely natural processes. The other is that God uses or guides evolution through natural selectrion to create us. Ockham’s razor clearly states that we can eliminate the God hypothesis as it is an unnecessary additional assumption. The same is true for the Mount Sinai event as everything can be explained through natural means without assuming the addition of supernatural beings. This is the core of Ockham’s razor; every natural explanation will always be simpler than any explanation of God because God necessarily entails a more complex being of tri-omni potential in addition to its existential assumption.
Con: “In response to Pro's rhetorical question, I answer, (somewhat humorously, granted) only G-d knows…The idea of an all-knowing G-d take away any authenticity to questions like this because the questions presuppose that we know what the proper way to run the world is.”
Your response presupposes God exists and is a common cop-out right next to “God works in mysterious ways.” We certainly do know that genocide, slavery, human sacrifice, and rape are all bad ways to run the world yet the Torah consistently advocates it. My point in showing the following examples is to show that the Torah itself is unreliable, not only in regards to miracles but in moral instruction as well. It is unlikely any omniscient and omnibenevolent God would ever create or inspire such an atrocious book and it is up to Con to show otherwise. Here are a few examples which substantiate my claims and show I’m not just blowing smoke:
1) “And the Lord, your God, will deliver them to you, and you shall smite them. You shall utterly destroy them; neither shall you make a covenant with them, nor be gracious to them (Deuteronomy 7). This is God’s instruction for the Israelites to commit genocide on Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites. It advocates killing of strangers who worship a different God, killing of all the inhabitants including women and children of the land that they conquer, and intolerance as well (they cannot intermarry; they must destroy all their relics). If Con wishes to continue to purport that we do not know this is the wrong way to run the world then she can do so. However, admitting this would only subject her to showing how perverted her sense of morality has become.
2) “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way” (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT). The Torah clearly approves of slavery in many passages it states how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves. While many apologists will try to soften these passages by saying that slaves were actually indentured servants, we must not take their word for it. We must read these passages ourselves and be honest that they clearly state that slaves are property, and that many Americans in the South (before the Civil War) used the Bible as their ultimate justification for slavery. As Steven Weinberg puts it, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
3) "Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you" (Genesis 22:1-18). This passage explains how Abraham takes his own son, Isaac, up on a mountain, and builds an altar to burn him. He also lies to his son and has him help build the altar. Abraham then ties his son to the altar and puts a knife to his throat. He then hears God tell him this was just a test of his faith. I can only hope that Con does not see this story as admirable because frankly it is disgusting and should be reason alone to never want to worship such a God regardless of whether he exists or not.
4) "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives" (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NIV). Imagine if the Torah was ever taken seriously and was implemented as the law of land. If Con was a virgin and then was raped, she would be forced to marry her rapist without ever being able to divorce. But that is all quite alright because in exchange Con’s father would receive fifty shekels of silver. If anything Con should be glad that nobody takes the Torah’s laws seriously and that people like me often criticize and ridicule it. If it ever got to the point where people made it the supreme law, the world would be a much worse place. Con’s rights as a woman would also be thrown out the window (can provide many more examples if you wish to challenge me on this).
Con: “This means that we must believe Paul hasn't just made this up in order to place any credibility in the story. I challenge Pro to come up with another religion containing a tradition of mass revelation that was not dependent on the word of one person for transmission.”
All of a sudden Con becomes a skeptic in regards to mass revelation of another religion. Con refuses to apply the same amount of skepticism to her own claims. How can we know that 2.5 million people were all at Mount Sinai? How do we know that whoever has written this did not just make this up to place credibility in the story of Mount Sinai? The belief in the resurrection of Jesus does not depend on the transmission of one person, because 500 people were supposedly present and there is now an estimated 2.18 billion Christians in the world today. It is easy to see that Con is engaging in special pleading and refused to answer my challenge from Round 2 which states she must name at least 100 individuals of the 2.5 million she claims was present. I do not need to name any of the 500 individuals that Paul proclaims because I think both Sinai and the resurrection never happened. The only thing this aims to show is that Con will refuse to accept the Resurrection miracle without any names but will easily accept the Sinai miracle under the same circumstances. Both are substantiated by anecdotal evidence alone but Con refuses to scrutinize her beliefs under the same standards of evidence.
Con also continues to pose (with an inadequate analogy) that the Mount Sinai event is verifiable when I have already shown how and why it is not. Many stories begin as myths, and over time it becomes impossible to verify them as ancestors who lived in that time frame have died off. The myth then becomes a story which is told to children as truth. We must always remember that many stories come into fruition this way and that in ancient times people were much more gullible as skepticism was not the norm and science was nonexistent. Another important point to note is that the Torah was written a long time after these supposed revelations.
As for the Chariot wheels claimed to be found on the Red Sea, I need more time to research this claim but for now I can only reference one source which counters it (http://www.truthorfiction.com...). I will try to expand on these findings later, what I ask from Con is that she shows any miracle that has a firm scientific consensus. It does not matter which religion’s miracle I just want one. I also thank Con for her intellectual honesty in understanding the circular reasoning confusion.
It seems I have shown thus far why Con has not fulfilled her burden of proof, so I await Con’s final rebuttals with a skeptical anticipation.
In regards to the source of the standing sun, though both I and my opponent are in agreement on the Earth's rotation about the Sun, I was trying to emphasize that there are indeed other cultures in existence with records of a 'standing sun', contrary to what Pro stated in the first round. The source in question references a wide range of its own sources.
I would like to repeat here what was stated in the previous round. "In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result." (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
Pro: "We certainly do know that genocide, slavery, human sacrifice, and rape are all bad ways to run the world yet the Torah consistently advocates it."
I was reluctant to get into such a discussion, mainly because it involves a lot of tedious philosophy. Many of these accusations delve right into the heart of what constitutes good and evil, making it difficult to answer sufficiently. (Specifically in the last round of the debate , where I cannot respond to any refutations.)
1) In regards to genocide:
It's important to remember what time period these commandments were given. It was during a time when a pacifist stance would have been suicide. The world hadn't developed yet to a point where peace was seen as a legitimate moral value; land belonged to those that had conquered it and defended their territory. Now, even given that, the Jewish nation's approach to war is, as far as I am aware, unique to those times. The passage in Deuteronomy Pro quoted, when taken solely in that context, does seem to insinuate an immoral G-d. However, a few chapters later, there is another passage stating prerequisites for going out to war.
"When you approach a city to do battle with it you should call to it in peace. And if they respond in peace and they open the city to you, all the people in the city shall pay taxes to you and be subservient. And if they do not make peace with you, you shall wage war with them and you may besiege them." (Deuteronomy 20:10-12)
In addition, a Jewish army cannot surround his enemy completely on all sides. One side must be left open to allow those that wish to flee the opportunity, thus preventing unnecessary bloodshed. (http://judaism.about.com...)
I had meant to brief. Here I will post a link to an article dealing with the philosophy behind slavery in Judaism, without getting into it too much myself. (http://www.chabad.org...) The problem with not taking the word of the 'apologists' is that these words are a part of the Jewish Oral Torah, an integral piece of Jewish tradition. In Judaism, the Oral and Written Torah go hand in hand. (The above link also details an explanation of why that is the case.) One cannot rely on the words of only one to get a complete picture of Jewish structure. (http://en.wikipedia.org...) To brush aside the fact that these slaves were actually indentured servants misses the point.
3) Human Sacrifice:
Note that just because a story mentions something immoral doesn't mean the author advocates it. As far as I am aware, there are only two cases mentioned throughout the Tanach that deal with human sacrifice. One, in the Torah, of Isaac, and one, in Prophets, concerning Jepthath's daughter. Both cases demonstrate that Judaism finds human sacrifice to be a negative act and actually prohibits it. (http://www.jewfaq.org... - see section concerning Isaac) What many neglect to mention while bringing this passage up as evidence of G-d's 'immorality', is that G-d essentially commands Abraham not to kill his son at the end.
Pro: "I can only hope that Con does not see this story as admirable because frankly it is disgusting and should be reason alone to never want to worship such a God regardless of whether he exists or not."
This is an appeal to disgust and holds no authentic basis.
On the contrary, marriage is not an obligation of the rape victim, rather, an obligation of the rapist if, and only if, the victim consents. Why would a victim want to marry her rapist? In those days, the stigma associated with rape may have made it difficult for the victim to find a marriage partner. Thus, she has the option of marrying her rapist - should she want to - where he has no possibility of opting out of the marriage. She, on the other hand, may divorce him, but he may not initiate the proceedings. (http://www.chabad.org...) (http://www.aish.com...)
So, though I appreciate my opponent's concern for my well-being, he needn't worry.
I would certainly like to challenge Pro on his views of women in Judaism, but don't have the space to do so here. Perhaps we can 'have a go' at it in another debate. For those interested, here's a source for now. (http://www.mechon-mamre.org...)
Pro: "All of a sudden Con becomes a skeptic in regards to mass revelation of another religion. "
On the contrary, I outlined specific regulations that make the story of mass revelation unique to Judaism, i.e. transmission never being dependent on an individual. It seems there is some confusion about the particular aspects that make it unique to Judaism, so I'm going to offer another explanation and certainly hope it suffices.
The historical belief concerning national revelation at Sinai is widespread among the Jewish people, as is the belief that this information has been passed down reliably from generation to generation since the event transpired. There are two possibilities. One, it is true. Two, it was sold to the Jewish people as an intentional or unintentional deception. Note that at no point in time could a whole nation have been deceived into the content of such a story. This is because Judaism makes the outlandish claim that every generation, including the current generation, received the tradition from their parents. The Jewish people would never have embraced the narrative of revelation, unless their parents had already told them the story. At no point would the Jewish nation have bought the lie that millions of their ancestors witnessed this revelation and that it was passed down reliably from generation to generation, unless all (or at least the majority) of the parents had already told them, and unless the people were already a sizable nation.
That last point is integral because it shows that the lie couldn't have been spread gradually by a small number of people over time. To tell tales of a great nation when no such nation is in existence would be a clear example of a lie that IS verifiable.
Pro claims that the belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not dependent on one person, but I repeat again that it is. Despite accounts of 500 witnesses, the only available testimony of those 500 witnesses is from Paul, who wrote the account himself in the New Testament. This is an example of how tradition can start from a false account of one person and spread. The claim from Judaism however doesn't fit that bill because it would require an entire nation to be present where (this is assuming its false-ness) there was none. The existence of a Jewish nation is a necessary requirement in order to spread such a lie.
This is what makes Judaism's claim unique. Even the spreading of the story as a lie (at any point in time in Jewish history) would require an entire Jewish nation to be present. The anecdotal evidence is clearly different regarding the two cases. In one case, the evidence is substantiated only by the claims of a single person. In the other, at all points in time, an entire Jewish nation that witnessed those events would be necessary to spread such a 'lie', requiring the events in question to have occurred in order for them to be spread.
I am now providing a link that demonstrates the unbroken chain from the event at Sinai to the people alive today. (http://www.simpletoremember.com...)
The problem with finding a miracle that has a firm scientific consensus is finding scientists without their own questionable integrity. The link Pro gives doesn't debunk the science, rather discusses the possible bias of the scientist involved. A double standard is set up in the scientific world where any religious man is immediately labeled as biased and their findings (specifically in regards to concerns about G-d and the bible) dubious. On the other hand, scientist's blatant rejection of anything in the bible isn't considered a bias. Take Albert Einstein, for instance. On hearing about the possibility of an expanding universe, he said the circumstance 'irritated him' because it implied a beginning and a beginning implied a Creator. He later said this was the biggest error in his career. (http://mypage.direct.ca...)
The last point I would like to make before concluding is a point already stated in round one. Natural phenomena are reoccurring, but no other nation has passed on a chain of transmission originating from a sizable group of people and lived to tell about it. (The reason being that if the claim genuinely was false, it would fall away easily.) Assuming that the phenomenon could be explained naturally, history should be replete with stories of mass revelation substantiated by large groups of people; however it is not. I once again pose my challenge to Pro to find another nation that experienced national revelation where the transmission was NOT dependent on an individual.
I believe I have sufficiently explained how the claims of mass revelation could not have been fabricated and would like to thank Pro for initiating this debate.
Con continues to state that the standing sun was recorded by other cultures as well, but has yet to provide any reliable sources. If this was indeed true, there should be no problem whatsoever in finding any respectable astronomers who support this view. All of the cultures which actually studied the stars in the same time period have not shown any records of this event. It is irritating that Con or anyone else should believe in such a claim with such little evidence. Con should be more honest in this respect and call it faith. It is not derived from ANY respectable scientific analysis, the standing sun miracle would cause havoc to our entire planet. It violates the principle of conservation of angular momentum. Furthermore, if the Earth stopped rotating then the moon would snap out of Earth’s orbit and be propelled at some angle in space. The water of the ocean has momentum, such that it would overflow all eastern coasts with huge tidal waves. The atmosphere itself has momentum and so the air speed would be moving at a devastating speed. We all have momentum at this very second and if Earth were to suddenly stop rotating, then we would all be propelled from wherever we are at 1,000 mph! It is ridiculous to claim this miracle actually occurred and it delegitimizes the reliability of the Torah as a source of true stories. Pretty much every miracle in the Torah, has no scientific basis and to this day has never been demonstrated or given the respect of any scientific consensus. It is therefore irrational and unsupported to believe that 2.5 million people were at Mount Sinai, and questionable to whether the event ever happened in the first place. I have shown Con’s constant attempts to reconcile these miracles as unsupported throughout this debate, and ask that she hold up her true colors. Her position is not evidence-based it is faith based, and faith is nothing more than gullibility.
Sources: 1) http://astrobob.areavoices.com...
Immorality of the Torah’s God
1) Genocide: Con cites another passage where God commands the Israelis to ask for peace before doing battle. However, this contradicts the scripture which I posted that tells them to utterly destroy them. Obviously these passages have a ridiculously wide range of interpretations, so much so that one could justify any atrocity or any good doing with the same scripture. It seems to be a stupid thing in itself for a God to set up such an arrangement of vastly differing interpretations. Regardless, if the Israelites actually asked for peace first or not, they still have justified the killing of the innocent woman and children which is immoral for any God to command.
2) Slavery: The levels to which religious apologetics try to reconcile immorality in the Torah is immoral in itself. They constantly try to make it seem as if slavery wasn’t so bad, regardless of how clear the scriptures are about human property. As I predicted Con’s source claims that slaves weren’t REALLY slaves, they were more like indentured servants. At the bottom-line we all know historically that slaves were forcibly subdued by the Israelites with a direct and clear logical pathway of justification from their Torah. If a God were to be truly omnibenevolent he could advocate just once, that slavery (human property) is forbidden but this never occurs.
3) Human Sacrifice: Ok… God commands Abraham to kill his son, and then not kill his son? If that is the case, then God is inconsistent. What is the point to all of these parables that leave interpretation up in air. Why does God not just plainly and clearly state that human sacrifice is bad?! In the end, Abraham killed his son as a test of his faith and I still do not see any reason for a moral and all-powerful God to allow such immoral barbarism.
4) Rape: Regardless of whatever sources of far-off interpretation in the Talmud that the woman is not obligated to marry the rapist, this is a moot rebuttal. It is crystal clear from the passage I have given that many rapists could rape a woman, and use the Torah as their validation for then subduing her into marriage. If any other passage says otherwise than the Torah is, yet again, inconsistent. Any moral teaching that can be excavated from such a plethora of immorality seems to me to be something no Jew or Rabbi should be proud of. No matter how you slice this cake, it is inconceivable that the Torah was made by an omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent God. The entire morality argument is explained most eloquently by Christopher Hitchens:
“Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing [in the ten commandments] about the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide? Or is it too exactingly “in context” to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended?”
The scientific community is the single most consistent and reliable group of individuals the human species has to offer. They are the ones to uncover new truths and discoveries of our Universe through a rigorous process of careful experimentation, analytical mechanisms, and peer-review. Undermining their integrity is silly and a weak rebuttal which only portrays Con’s shortcomings in finding but ONE consensus on any supernatural event to have ever been claimed. I know science hasn’t been around forever, but clearly hundreds of years have gone by with absolutely zero pieces of reliable evidence for a miracle or even one person demonstrating one.
I think by now my previously outlined arguments/rebuttals as well as Con’s arguments/rebuttals regarding the Kuzari principle is like beating a dead horse. Regardless of Con’s continued assertions that the principle is verifiable, I have shown that it is not and Con gives no good reason to challenge it. I have also explained how numerous times, Con is make a case of special pleading for her Sinai event, while not accepting Jesus’ resurrection regardless that both are stories of mass revelation. Con says Paul may have lied, I say the writer of the Sinai passage may have lied; we are still in same exact predicament.
My other argument’s regarding the ridiculously low probability of any supernatural event to ever occur still stands. Ockham’s razor is forever in support of cutting out any supernatural assumptions. I would therefore just like to extend my previous arguments to keep the reading light for the audience. I would like to thank Con for her excellence in keeping the debate lively but alas the debate has finally come to an end. My resolution still holds firm, Con has not fulfilled her burden of proof in establishing the existence of a God.
I'd like to thank Pro for a very respectful and thought provoking debate. His skills as a debater are certainly admirable.
Though there clearly remains a disagreement between us as to whether or not I managed to fulfill my burden of proof, I encourage readers to vote objectively for whichever side they feel presented the best arguments.
Thanks again to the readers for following along and to Pro for debating this subject.
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