Wednesday, December 23, 2015

God's Consort in the Torah?

This post is prompted by a discussion from a commenter on the post 2 weeks ago about the loanwords in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). The commenter linked to this article, which, at the end, disputed the idea that Persian loanwords are a marking of an early text. One of their reasons was the presence of what they determined a Persian loanword of dat in Devarim (Deut. 33:2). My response to the article in general is included in the comments of that blog post. This week I want to talk about this specific verse, and what the possible meaning of it could be.

Tricky Translations

Certain verses in the Torah are hard to translate. This is because they include words that are not known elsewhere, or that make little sense in context. One is often forced to decide whether the text is corrupted and it should actually be read differently, or whether we're dealing with a meaning of a word that is non-standard, or whether the word is a hapax legomenon (a word that only appears once, and thus has a meaning that can only be determined from immediate context.)

There are many words that the Masoretes, (the individuals who standardized pronunciation and grammar, and added all the vowels to the text,) decided should be different than how they were written. These are known as kri/ktiv differences, which literally means spoken/written. Sometimes these involve replacing a letter with another, sometimes they involve changing an entire word. Some of these kri/ktiv's are described in the Talmud, but the Talmud also describes many alternate readings that were not taken up by the Masoretes. There is a kri/ktiv in 33:2 which involves the word dat in question from the preamble.

But without further ado, let's look at the text, first in Hebrew:
וַיֹּאמַר, יְהוָה מִסִּינַי בָּא וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ--הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן, וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ; מִימִינוֹ, אשדת (אֵשׁ דָּת) לָמוֹ. 
The translation is very tricky. But I'll give my own, leaving some of the more difficult words untranslated for now.
And [Moshe] said: God came from Sinai, he shown forth from Seir to them. He appeared from the mountain of Paran. He came from the myriads kodesh. In his right hand, Eshdat, to them.
The first half, up to the mountain of Paran is pretty straightforward. After that it's really tricky. One thing that's clear is that there's is a lot of parallelisms. There appear to be four places where God comes from: Sinai, Seir, the mountain of Paran, and the myriads of Kodesh. That last one seems to fit the pattern of the other three places, the translation is unclear. Personally, I'm inclined to read it as Kadesh not Kodesh, and understand this as a fourth place, which like the first three, appears in the wilderness. As a side note, this verse is one of the supporting verses that indicate that the practice of worshipping YHWH began in the wilderness. See this post for more details.

If the phrase וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ is tricky, the next two words, מִימִינוֹ אשדת, are even more problematic and most of the rest of the post will be devoted to them. Before we get there, we need to discuss the last word לָמוֹ which parallels the same word in the first half. We first note, that if we remove מִימִינוֹ אשדת and interpret מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ as some sort of place location, then the verse contains nice symmetry. So consider the following translation highlighting the symmetry.
God
Came from Sinai
and
Appeared from Seir
 - to them
Appeared from Paran
and
Came from Kadesh
- to them
Not only is there symmetry, but there's a nice chiasmic structure, much beloved in biblical poetry, where the words with meaning similar to "appear" occur in the middle two phrases and the words similar to "came" occur in the outer two.  מִימִינוֹ אשדת breaks the symmetry. With those words, it reads something like:
God
Came from Sinai
and
Appeared from Seir
 - to them
Appeared from Paran
and
Came from Kadesh
(at his right Eshdat)
- to them
Not only does it break the symmetry, but it also interrupts the phrase, "Came from Kadesh to them." So we're left with a puzzle. What in the world does אשדת (eshdat) mean, and how was it so important that it was possibly inserted into the text. As usual, with these types of things, there are lots of possibilities. So let's go through them.

What exactly is an Eshdat?

The first thing to check is to see if there are any differences in the old versions of the text we have available. The verse does appear in one of the dead sea scrolls (from 50 CE), but I couldn't find any information on it, so I assume it appears the same as in the Masoretic text. The verse also appears in the Samaritan Torah almost identical, but the only change in the Samaritan Torah is that they spell Paran differently. אשדת is unchanged. The Septuagint is more interesting, and we'll get to that later.

For a naive interpretation, you might look at the root אשד which appears only once in Tanakh (Num 21:16) where it implies some geological feature, and most commonly is thought to mean a slope or a ravine. אשדת would be some sort of plural form, although it is a feminine plural for a word that looks masculine. Ignoring the plural issue, perhaps this can be construed to make some sense in the context of the verse, since it does mention place names, but it's a stretch. Unsurprisingly, I know of no translation that takes this approach.

The most common approach in traditional Jewish circles is to follow the Masoretes who themselves follow the interpretation of Raba in Berakhot 62a that it should be read as two words אֵשׁ דָּת, which literally mean "fire law." This interpretation is echoed in the Rishonim, where at very least Rashi and Ibn Ezra understand it as such. But what exactly does this mean. We don't have this kind of concept of a "fiery law" anywhere else in the Tanach. The Rishonim try to give explanations of what it could possibly mean, but they never attempt to justify the explanation in the first place.

There is another problem, with this interpretation. Namely that the word דָּת is a Persian loanword. The authors of the article linked at the top of the post note this and use it as a indication that Persian loanwords appear in the text of the Torah itself. Furthermore, they argue that if you say it can't actually mean דָּת but means something else, because it is early, then you are engaging in a circular argument.

However, I think there are ample reasons to reject this interpretation of אֵשׁ דָּת, a fiery law, without resorting to the loanword argument. And these are the following. A fiery law is not a phrase anywhere in Tanach, even in the derivative forms from this verse (please let me know if I am wrong, this is hard to search for!) I don't just mean the phrase אֵשׁ דָּת but any phrase that is similar in concept. The idea of a fiery law makes no sense in context either. The interpretations imply that he's bringing it with him, but the actual word מִימִינוֹ is better understood as "at his right" or "from his right", one might expect something more like בְּימִינוֹ, in his right hand.

What options though are left? When we turn to the Septuagint (and the KJV based off of it), we find a very bizarre translation. The Septuagint translates אשדת as meaning something like "angels". At first this looks like a terrible mistranslation, but after thinking about it for a second, you can possibly understand where it's coming from. Could it be that the Torah that the Septuagint was translated off of had a resh instead of a daled, and the word was אשרת, which could perhaps mean, "servants" from the root שרת to serve? This is also a stretch, but it might explain how the Septuagint arrived at its strange choice of translation.

Side note: resh/daled confusion is the most common written typo in Biblical texts. The letters are very similar in form in both ktav ashuri and ktav ivri. There is also precedence for resh/daled errors in the Torah. The one that comes to mind is the Dodanim (Gen 10:4) which is properly written as Rodanim, or people from Rhodes, in Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles).

But I go a step further. I say that the Septuagint translation is on the right track, and the original verse probably had a resh, and read אשרת, but it doesn't mean "angels" rather it means, "his Asherah," or more specifically the royal consort of God. This idea of a southern God with an Asherah is present in the Kuntellet Arjud inscriptions which say "Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah," so we have an external source that really lends credence to the association of the god Yahweh with an Asherah.

Now we can make a hypothesis as to how this verse varied over time. The beginning of the verse did not have the two words מִימִינוֹ אשדת, in them. However, they were added into the song (probably only an oral tradition at this stage) by a group of people who probably attached strong importance to worship of Asherah. So this modification, which became canonized in the Biblical text read מִימִינוֹ אשרת, a reading that perhaps remained intact in the Septuagint.

But worship of Asherah fell completely out of favor in later versions of Judaism as exemplified in the reforms of Hizkiyahu (Hezekiah) and Yoshiyahu (Josiah), so perhaps they upheld a version with a copyist error, or maybe there was a "pious" scribe who read this verse and said, "this can't be the right reading, Asherah have been a typo." The change from אשרת to אשדת was made, perhaps with the idea of it meaning "ravine." This change would have to have been earlier than the Samaritan split, which means it's likely Exilic or pre-Exilic.

With the inclusion of the meaning of דָּת as law arriving in the Jewish lexicon from Persian, this allowed the commentators of the Talmudic era, and probably the second temple era, to understand this word entirely differently, as some sort of "fiery law."

As a side note, this idea of the verse possibly meaning Asherah was one of the first things that popped into my head when I read this verse. I did a quick search online and found that lots of other people have had the same idea.

Probably no post next week. We'll see about the week after.

97 comments:

  1. Very nice analysis. Reuel/Deuel also comes to mind as a resh/daled substitution, I think both names are used to refer to the same person.

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  2. I've seen this pasuk discussed in a few scholarly blogs and books, some of which you linked, but I haven't seen someone with the ability to simplify and organize it the way you do. Have you considered teaching as a profession? On second thought, you have been doing a great job teaching on this blog for over a year now!

    I wonder how Judaism would look today if we had kept Asheira as Yahwe's wife. I wonder if we would have a more tolerant, feminine, gentle balance to the violent, angry, impulsive Yahwe. Furthermore, is it possible that 'shechinah' is a remnant of Asheira that was later merged with Yahwe (along with El, shadday, baal etc).

    Once again, yasher koach for getting me thinking and I hope you won't skip too many weeks.

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  3. Actually, not only is God's consort in the Bible, but so is the Holy Trinity. A threesome!

    The story of Abraham and the three angels is interpreted by Christians as clearly referring to the trinity. See here at length.

    http://www.bibleanswerstand.org/QA_trinity_02.htm

    Mohammed is also in the Bible.

    http://www.islam101.com/religions/christianity/mBible.htm

    So with some imagination, you can find whatever you want to in the Bible.

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  4. Jacob, you can read anything you want into the text (eisegesis), even extraterrestrials being responsible for the fireworks at Sinai and Ezekiel's wheels within wheels, but the logical approach would be to first try to ascertain 'pshat', i.e. what was the author[s] original intent when writing the text. For example, was the binding of Isaac on the mount a foreshadowing of Jesus being bound on the cross? Perhaps. Why, Isaac even carried the wood up to the alter too! All that may be true, and an indication of Divine Inspiration at work (Christian apologists would say), but first I want to know the historical, factual evidence, and leave theology for a later date. Pshat, the story of three messengers bearing the imprimatur of the Divine, does that factually signify God in a human form? Or simply a residual of an earlier time, when the monotheism of Judaism was not so clearcut? Obviously, from a rational perspective, the latter.
    So, to the matter at hand: The fact that the Septuagint renders this baffling phrase 'Eshdat' as 'angels' is most illustrative, again an excellent example of the non-monotheistic origins of Judaism. Until you definitively prove to me the veracity of the claims of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Scientology, Chariots of the Gods, et al, I stick to what is most logical and scientificially grounded. And the truth will set you free.

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    1. First of all, Bible study is not science. It's part of the humanities.

      Regarding what's logical, that seems to have a lot do do with what your religious beliefs are. An atheist, Christian, Muslim, etc will see all sorts of things in the Torah which traditional Jews never saw.

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    4. I personally feel sorry for the millions of American children raised in strictly atheistic American public schools, where evolution is taught as a fact and where questions are answered by claiming that since the scientists believe it, we mere laymen have no right to doubt.

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    7. OK, but in that case, why not apply that logic to other areas of life, such as health care for example?

      In addition to conventional Western medicine, there is Anthroposophic medicine, Ayurveda, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Naturopathic medicine, Osteopathy, Traditional Chinese medicine, Unani medicine and many others.

      Why not let our children be exposed to all theories out there, and be honest with them that nobody knows how to cure disease and illness, and we aren't likely to figure that out for certain anytime soon?

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    9. "most educated, intelligent people have come to realize that our world wasn't created by yahwe, El, baal, jesus, Allah, buddah, marduk, etc"

      The Pope and the cardinals aren't educated and intelligent? Nor Osama bin Laden? The Dalai Lama?

      So you've decided that people who think differently than you do are primitive idiots.

      Sounds a little bit extremist doesn't it?

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    10. I also want to remind you that in argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for "appeal to the people") is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it: "If many believe so, it is so."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

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    12. Oh, OK, I get it. People who disagree with you are brainwashed and people who agree with you are rational. Well that's reasonable. I don't know why I didn't realize that.

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    14. No not at all.

      Judaism is obviously true, as is standard Western medicine, as is the Holocaust, the Apollo moon landings, etc.

      Regarding what "all intelligent, educated" people think, I wouldn't get too hung up on that. 500 years ago virtually every single person in Europe believed that Jesus Christ was his lord and savior. Two thousand years ago, everyone in the Roman Empire was offering sacrifices to Jupiter. Now evolution is the latest thing.

      Today in the US, about half the population believes in various conspiracy theories. That doesn't make them more valid.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/19/fifty-percent-of-americans-believe-in-some-conspiracy-theory-heres-why/

      Also, just by the way, brainwashing (other than possibly in regards to actual prisoners of war) is junk science.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2002/01/the_brainwashed_defense.html

      People may be persuaded to make poor choices, however it's nearly impossible to control someone else's mind.

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    16. Getting back to Jacob's statement
      "First of all, Bible study is not science. It's part of the humanities."
      However, as C. Hitchens was wont to point out, religion is constantly making claims that encroach on the territory of science: To use just one example, the assertion of an afterlife where the righteous and the wicked receive their respective recompense. Is there any proof for this audacious claim? No, and more level-headed believers will be wise to assert that these matters are a matter of faith. Which leads me back to my original thesis, to wit, what are the facts on the ground that can be empirically adjudicated and ascertained without employing the filtering lens of faith? That is science, and thus should be the default position when reading and interpreting the Bible, the Koran, and any other literary work for that matter.
      Jacob continued
      "Regarding what's logical, that seems to have a lot do do with what your religious beliefs are. An atheist, Christian, Muslim, etc will see all sorts of things in the Torah which traditional Jews never saw."
      This is like going on a merry-go-round, by which time the kiruv professional hopes the newbie is so fully discombobulated that he/she is mesmerized and just drinks the coolaid, but again, start with the facts on the ground, and accept no one's assertions as true. YOU want me to accept metaphysical fantasies as fact, the onus of proof is on YOU. You want to sell me a used car, I take nothing you say at face value.

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    17. How can I do otherwise, than give my children the best advice that I can?

      Should I also explain to them:

      Many doctors believe that smoking is linked to lung cancer, but on the other hand there are those (incidentally hired by tobacco companies) who disagree.

      http://news.discovery.com/human/health/tobacco-companies-still-battling-smoking-cancer-link-150717.htm

      So you make up you're own mind. I'm not going to try and influence you.

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    18. "C. Hitchens"

      There is an example of true rationalist, a man whom we should all emulate, who ran off with another woman while his first wife was pregnant with his child and then drank and smoked himself to death.

      YOU want me to accept evolutionary fantasies as fact, the onus of proof is on YOU. You want to sell me a used car, I take nothing you say at face value.

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    20. @ Jacob Stein Once again proving yourself a troll.As per your comment "YOU want me to accept evolutionary fantasies as fact, the onus of proof is on YOU."

      There is significant evidence for evolution I would suggest for you the book Evolution for Dummies.

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    21. The best popular book on evolution is probably What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr, who was a real authority on subject and a contributor to modern evolutionary theory.

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    22. That is a strange book recommendation for someone who does not believe in evolution.

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    23. Non-believing, but well informed I think.

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    24. @ Jacob Stein - so you read Mayr's book ? And yet you call Evolution fantasy ? That evolution does not have a preponderance of evidence for it ?

      I am truly confused by Mr. Stein. Is he for real or is he intentionally creating a mockery of certain Orthodox Jews ? Is he really a storm fronter ? Sort of a wolf in sheeps clothing ?

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    25. How about this: Someone brave enough and honest enough to embrace the truth, however uncomfortable that may be? In other words a Jew.

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    26. In the appendix to that book, Mayr discusses various objections to evolution and refutes them. What is your response to the points he makes there?

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    27. I read the book about 10 years ago and unfortunately I don't have a copy here.

      To my knowledge there is no convincing answer to two problems:

      The fossils indicate catastrophism not evolution.

      Development of useful new limbs and organs through a process of mutation and selection is impossibly improbable.

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    28. Let's say you are correct, and the theory has glaring flaws that are being covered over by the scientific establishment.

      How do you then conclude that God exists? Why is the next step not:

      'The theory of evolution answers some questions but not every question, I guess there are some questions I don't yet know the answer to. I should continue studying until I figure out the answer.'

      ?

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    29. The theory has glaring flaws that are being ignored by the scientific establishment due to obvious and overwhelming vested interests.

      If evolution didn't do it, God did it. There isn't another option.

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    30. The theory has glaring flaws that are being ignored by the scientific establishment due to obvious and overwhelming vested interests.

      If evolution didn't do it, God did it. There isn't another option.

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    31. This seems like an argument from ignorance. Why wouldn't you say:

      'If evolution didn't do it, I don't know what did it'

      ?

      After all, you do not have any positive evidence for God, just a lack of alternatives. Maybe neither evolution nor God did it.

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    32. If there are only two people who could have done something, for example committed a homicide, only two people had means, motive, and opportunity, and then one is disqualified, for example by an alibi, the remaining individual will be convicted by a jury beyond reasonable and perhaps even put to death.

      So it's perfectly valid to assert that if evolution didn't create us, God did.

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    33. Maybe it was aliens. Maybe we are in a computer simulation. Maybe it was the Greek pantheon. Maybe the God of Trees created trees, the God of Horses created horses, and the God of Snails created snails.

      Maybe it was a committee of gods. Indeed, we never find complex machinery designed and built by just one person.

      What information do you have to support the notion of capital-G God?

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    34. Multiple gods adds unnecessary creators. One is enough.

      Space aliens add an unnecessary step, because you would still need an eternal incorporeal being, or a God, to have created the space aliens.

      So the simplest solution is "God did it", which was then confirmed by the Sinai revelation.

      So consider a criminal case where only one person had the means, motive and opportunity and he confessed as well. I think that's a slam dunk for the prosecution.

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    35. How do you know that it is even possible for an omnipotent, omniscient, infinite being to exist? Do you have any evidence for this?

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    36. Because we're here. Watchmaker analogy.

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    37. But how do you know that the concept even makes sense? There are no examples of other such beings.

      Isn't evolution more plausible, notwithstanding the questions you have? Isn't that more reasonable than positing the existence of a being that has infinite power and is not bound by time or space?

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    38. "There are no examples of other such beings."

      So what?

      Regarding the Big Bang, no one argues: How do you know that the concept even makes sense? There are no examples of other such events.

      Isn't Steady State theory

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady_State_theory

      more plausible, notwithstanding the questions cosmologists have? Isn't that more reasonable than positing the existence of a singularity of infinite density and temperature?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#Singularity

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    39. The concept of a singularity makes sense at least conceptually, as it is an extrapolation from existing phenomena. Objects with higher mass and low volume have higher density and higher temperature; if the universe was compressed into a point it would have extremely high density and temperature.

      That being said, the singularity is one theory and there are competing theories (see the wikipedia page you posted). Whichever one has more support from actual evidence will be the one that gains acceptance.

      What does this have to do with God? Just because there is a theorized state with infinite density has no bearing on the plausibility of a undetectable conscious being completely unbound by any physical laws or constraints.

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    40. The concept of a God makes sense at least conceptually, as it is an extrapolation from existing phenomena. We know that intelligent designers exist - people.

      There are others things which we cannot see or understand yet they know that they exist because we see their effects. For example magnetism and gravity.

      http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/02-three-words-that-could-overthrow-physics

      https://briankoberlein.com/2015/02/26/cradle-to-grave/

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    41. The intelligence part of God wasn't the problem - the part about being omnipotent, omniscient, invisible, existing in all places and times simultaneously, etc. was the problem.

      None of these qualities exist even in diminished form in any object or entity, nor do we understand how they could theoretically exist.

      So if you have difficulty understanding how organs could have evolved, for example, why is 'God did it' the most plausible answer? Does that not raise more questions than it answers?

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    42. We have no trouble accepting the existence of intelligent designers, invisible forces which we do not understand, an entity with infinite density and temperature.

      Why can't there be an entity which has no physical form, is infinite, eternal, is everywhere and does everything?

      I don't have difficult understanding how organs could have evolved, I know that they can't and didn't.

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    43. I am not saying we can only accept theories that are 100% completely understood. You are correct that many physical phenomena are not completely understood.

      But you are proposing the theory that God exists as an answer to a specific question, i.e. how did life arise. Doesn't the theory that God exists create more questions, and more serious questions, than those it proposes to answer?

      Like:

      How can he exist in all places and times simultaneously?
      How can he violate the laws of nature?
      How can he have consciousness with none of the physical structures that other beings with consciousness have (i.e. brains)?

      Not to mention:

      Why would such a being feel a need to create anything?
      Why would such a being create an enormous universe if all that matters is one tiny planet?
      Why would such a being create a universe that exists uninhabited for 14 billion years before his intended creations show up?

      Yet you consider the theory of God's existence more plausible than the theory of evolution, to explain how life came about.

      What information are you using to evaluate how plausible evolution is? How do you 'know' that organs could not have evolved? I would be happy to copy a wikipedia link that explains how they could have done so - would that change your mind?

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    44. Sure, it creates a lot of questions. So does the Big Bang. So?

      It is not possible to calculate with any accuracy how likely evolution process is since we do not know how complex living things actually are. However it is clear that such a process is so unlikely that it is effectively impossible.

      Here is how this works.

      Evolution proposes that vast amounts of seemingly purposeful complexity can be generated through a random chance process, provided that a great deal of time and space are available and some external selective force limits this random process.

      This is basically comparable to someone illiterate attempting to publish books through random trial and error and customer selection. He would buy a printing press, open a bookstore, start printing and make more copies of whatever sold. At first he just arranged his printing type at random, printed and put the results on the shelves. No one bought anything since it was all gibberish. He threw all these failures into the trash bin and continued printing. Eventually, purely by chance, one small booklet actually made sense and in fact became a best seller. So he kept printing more copies of it. Occasionally, there would be some typographical error in the printing; purely by chance, a page would be smudged, a line would be missing. Generally these errors would cause the book to be defective and it would be thrown into the trash, however once in a while a typo would add more meaning to a copy of the book – perhaps a few interesting new sentences. People would ask for more copies of it. The illiterate author would then faithfully reproduce that typo. Gradually entire new books developed through this process of random typographical errors and customer selection. Eventually, the inventory in the book shop had expanded to include tens of millions of titles including novels, plays, poetry, scientific textbooks, history, biography, huge dictionaries and encyclopedias and so on. In fact, these books were actually far more beautiful and profound than books ever written by any human author. All of these were produced by a totally illiterate author through a process of random printing, typos and customer selection over a very long period of time.

      Needless to say, such a process is unimaginably unlikely to be successful. It has already been calculated, for example, that the possibility of a monkey typing Hamlet is infinitesimally small. [Search the Internet for "infinite monkey theorem".]

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    45. The Big Bang creates some questions, and it answers other questions. The questions it creates are less serious than the questions it answers. The opposite is true of the theory of God's existence.

      Kefirah already responded to your description of evolutionary theory.

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    46. "The questions it creates are less serious than the questions it answers."

      Care to elaborate on that? It does explain cosmic background radiation, but it basically messes up everything else everyone ever thought.

      "Kefirah already responded to your description of evolutionary theory."

      Where? The computer simulation on youtube which I'm supposed to somehow debunk without knowing the language or having the software to run it?

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    47. I will refer you to

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Big_Bang_theory

      for specifics. As far as I know, there is no serious opposition to the theory. It is widely accepted because it does a good job of explaining a number of observed phenomena, despite the fact that some questions remain unanswered.

      Regarding evolution, you quoted Mayr earlier. You can go back and read the book if you are interested in learning more.

      Do you claim that the questions created by the theory of evolution are more serious than the questions created by the theory of God's existence?

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    48. An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
      -- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (1986), page 6

      He seems to be admitting that without evolution, one would probably have to believe in God. In fact historically, there were almost no atheists prior to Darwin. The word was used almost solely as an insult directed against others.

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    49. I am asking what you think, not what Dawkins thinks.

      What he is saying, though, is that although the atheist would have been correct, it would be unsatisfying to not have any explanation for biological design. Not sure how that is relevant to the discussion.

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    50. Dawkins wrote "atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin". Might have been. And actually almost no one accepted atheism before Darwin.

      So it seems bizarre to me that you go on and on and on about how even without evolution why in God's name would anyone ever believe in something so unbelievable, so improbable, so incredible as God! Good God, anything or nothing makes a lot more sense than God, according to you.

      I disagree and I think pretty much the rest of mankind, even the pope of atheism Dawkins, does too.

      If you have some sort of visceral phobia about God, I don't think I can help. Sorry.

      Delete
    51. You misunderstand. I am well aware of why people would believe in God. I believed in God myself for a long time, and everyone I know does as well. But people believe things for many reasons, and logic is actually not very high on that list.

      What we are discussing here is whether God actually exists. I am questioning whether the widespread belief has a logical basis.

      Delete
    52. Again - the watchmaker analogy just means, "I don't know how this complexity got here."

      There are two candidates we have put forth to answer that question: evolution, or God. Both of them answer the question of how complexity got here, but raise new questions of their own.

      I am claiming that the questions raised by the theory of God's existence are much stronger than the questions raised by evolution. Therefore it makes more sense to accept evolution as the source of biological complexity.

      Delete
    53. Evolution raises no questions. We know that it did not happen and it could not happen.

      Delete
    54. You seem to be very convinced of that. What research have you done that led you to this conclusion?

      Delete
    55. There is no convincing refutation to evidence I've presented.

      To recap:

      We know that evolution could not happen:

      It is not possible to calculate with any accuracy how likely evolution process is since we do not know how complex living things actually are. However it is clear that such a process is so unlikely that it is effectively impossible.

      Here is how this works.

      Evolution proposes that vast amounts of seemingly purposeful complexity can be generated through a random chance process, provided that a great deal of time and space are available and some external selective force limits this random process.

      This is basically comparable to someone illiterate attempting to publish books through random trial and error and customer selection. He would buy a printing press, open a bookstore, start printing and make more copies of whatever sold. At first he just arranged his printing type at random, printed and put the results on the shelves. No one bought anything since it was all gibberish. He threw all these failures into the trash bin and continued printing. Eventually, purely by chance, one small booklet actually made sense and in fact became a best seller. So he kept printing more copies of it. Occasionally, there would be some typographical error in the printing; purely by chance, a page would be smudged, a line would be missing. Generally these errors would cause the book to be defective and it would be thrown into the trash, however once in a while a typo would add more meaning to a copy of the book – perhaps a few interesting new sentences. People would ask for more copies of it. The illiterate author would then faithfully reproduce that typo. Gradually entire new books developed through this process of random typographical errors and customer selection. Eventually, the inventory in the book shop had expanded to include tens of millions of titles including novels, plays, poetry, scientific textbooks, history, biography, huge dictionaries and encyclopedias and so on. In fact, these books were actually far more beautiful and profound than books ever written by any human author. All of these were produced by a totally illiterate author through a process of random printing, typos and customer selection over a very long period of time.

      Needless to say, such a process is unimaginably unlikely to be successful. It has already been calculated, for example, that the possibility of a monkey typing Hamlet is infinitesimally small. [Search the Internet for "infinite monkey theorem".]

      We know that evolution did not happen:

      The fossil record indicates a series of creations, not evolution.

      About 4 billion years ago life on earth appeared suddenly.

      About 530 million years ago many forms of more advanced life appeared suddenly (the Precambrian-Cambrian transition).

      About 450 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from trilobites to jawed and bony fish (the Ordovician–Silurian transition).

      About 374 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from early fish to the first true amphibians (the Devonian-Carboniferous transition).

      About 252 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from giant amphibians to reptiles and primitive mammals (the Permian-Triassic transition).

      About 200 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from smaller reptiles to giant dinosaurs (the Triassic-Jurassic transition).

      About 65 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from dinosaurs to mammals (the Cretaceous–Paleogene transition).

      Delete
    56. Your first section is not a question, just a statement that evolution is impossible.

      Your second section is easily explained by changes in the atmosphere, global warming and cooling trends,etc that allow for different kinds of life to flourish in different conditions. Do you really think that it is necessary to invent the idea of God to account for these transitions?

      Delete
    57. Jacob Stein is intentionally misquoting Dawkins. Dawkins writes atheism was logically sound prior to Darwin. How can we have a conversation with a person where a book writes one thing, yet the person claims it is writing something else ?

      Delete
    58. "Your first section is not a question, just a statement that evolution is impossible."

      Right, this entire comment is irrefutable evidence against evolution.

      "your second section is easily explained"

      OK.

      The greatest “great dying,” 251 million years ago, erased 95 percent of species in the oceans (and most vertebrates on land). But new research suggests that it was followed by an explosion of complexity in marine life, one that has persisted ever since.

      Moreover, it happened quite suddenly, according to the study, which was led by scientists at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and published in the current issue of the journal Science. The shift to complicated, interrelated ecosystems was more like a flip of a switch than a slow trend.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/28/science/28mari.html

      Please explain to me how evolution easily explains that. (Bear in mind that "evolution" means "gradual improvement". Look in a dictionary.)

      "Do you really think that it is necessary to invent the idea of God to account for these transitions?"

      Do you really think that it is necessary to invent the idea of gravity, a mysterious, invisible force, to account for objects falling on the floor?

      ("we still don’t know what gravity actually is"
      https://briankoberlein.com/2015/02/26/cradle-to-grave/)

      I would say "yes".

      "Dawkins writes atheism was logically sound prior to Darwin."

      He seems a little unsure about this, and this is one of the today's most militant atheists: "atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin". And in fact before Darwin, about 99.9999% of humanity agreed that God made us.

      Delete
    59. Quote from the article:

      "They found that marine life before the biggest global die-off, the Permo-Triassic extinction, was evenly split into two types of communities: simple ones, in which most species were anchored in place and got by without interacting with neighbors (like eating them or being eaten by them), and complex ones, with many interrelationships."

      Before the extinction event, there was an even split between simple and complex communities, and afterward, the complex communities dominated. Where exactly is there a question against evolution from this data?

      Delete
    60. Here:

      The greatest “great dying,” 251 million years ago, erased 95 percent of species in the oceans (and most vertebrates on land). But new research suggests that it was followed by an explosion of complexity in marine life, one that has persisted ever since.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/28/science/28mari.html

      There was not merely a change in population size of certain species, but disappearance of nearly all existing species (which were often immobile) and a replacement by new species which were predominately mobile and more complex and this transition happened suddenly. How?

      Delete
    61. Where do you see in the article that the complex species were new? The quote I copied earlier indicates that the complex species were there before the extinction event as well.

      The point of the study was that the ratio of complex to simple species increased after the extinction event.

      Delete
    62. The title of the article "Marine Life Leaped From Simple to Complex After Greatest Mass Extinction" seems to make it clear that it is referring to something more than merely a change in the ratio of the population of existing species. I believe that you are interpreting the article in a deliberately tendentious way, however if you're actually serious, I think that this article is a little more explicit:

      During the Triassic life re-evolved many strategies for living, and added new ones not seen during the Paleozoic. Newly evolved scleractinian corals formed small reefs, beginning the recovery of reef ecosystems. Mollusks such as ammonoids (relatives of the modern chambered nautilus) were severely reduced in diversity by the extinction but evolved rapidly afterward to become more diverse than ever before and to dominate the open-ocean marine invertebrate world.

      http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/htmlversion/triassic2.html

      And this is not unique, in fact the entire fossil record indicates a series of special creations not evolution, which would mean an astronomical number of gradual, tiny, almost imperceptible little steps as simple chemicals in the first oceans were slowed, naturally transformed into humans and all the other unfathomably complex life forms of the present.

      Delete
    63. Normally I place more stock in the text of the article, and in the study which it quotes (which I also read), than in the headline.

      If your first paragraph is serious, consider this as some free advice: headlines are often misleading as they are trying to catch your attention.

      Let's try again with the new article you quote.

      All this one is saying is that evolution continued after the extinction. How does this present a challenge to evolution?

      Delete
    64. The Times article describes the change as very sudden. The Smithsonian Institute article makes it clear that new species were created, something which I think was clear in the first place.

      Please bear in mind that this is not an anomaly, but in fact a consistent pattern found throughout the fossil record, from the sudden transition from chemicals to life 4 billions years ago up to the sudden transition from dinasours to mammals 65 millions years ago.

      As the leading paleontologist in recent decades famously wrote in 1982:

      The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism:
      (1) Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.
      (2) Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and 'fully formed.'

      http://www.macroevolution.net/stephen-jay-gould.html

      Yesterday, you wrote that you could easily explain all this. Since it's so easy, I'm surprised that it seems to be taking you quite a while.

      Don't keep me in suspense, please fire off your easy explanation.

      Delete
    65. Re the Times article - if you refuse to read the article, I cannot discuss it with you.

      Same with the Smithsonian article - where does it say anything about creation?

      In regard to Gould, you may be interested in this quote (from wikipedia):

      "Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups."

      My easy explanation is the same as it was before - each of the transitions you mention are extinction events, after which the already existing species that survive the event become more numerous and diversify through evolution.

      Delete
    66. So you're claiming (in spite of everything I've cited to the contrary, and none of these links are to a creationist site) that the fossil record does indicate an astronomical number of gradual, tiny, almost imperceptible little steps as simple chemicals in the first oceans were slowly, naturally transformed into humans and all the other unfathomably complex life forms of the present.

      Can you walk me through that, for example what exactly are all the tiny, almost imperceptible little steps going back from humans to fish?

      Delete
    67. No, I am not claiming that. I never claimed that, and no one claims that.

      The lack of a complete fossil record does not disprove evolution. You claim that it does, but so far I have not seen any support for this claim.

      Delete
    68. It's more than incomplete. There are gaps big enough to drive an oil tanker through. Just for fun, try it. Trace human genealogy back to fish.

      Now just think about it for a minute. According to evolution, change comes about as a result of mutation and selection. Each mutation must be within a specific range - not too big, or the mutant will have no one to reproduce with, not too small, or it will create not reproductive benefit.

      How many mutations would be required to convert a fish into a human? Just imagine the vast changes that must be made to every single limb an organ. It's incalculable, because we cannot ourselves artificially make fish into people, however maybe trillions of beneficial mutations, each one within that "Goldilocks" spectrum of not too big not too small.

      Obviously harmful mutations far outnumber beneficial ones. In fact within the species about which we know the most, humans, there has not been recording in past 150 years even one novel beneficial mutation out billions of people. On the hand genetically defective, often not viable, people are born all the time.

      So the fossil records should be loaded with these mutants, these little steps going, along with huge mounds of debris from harmful mutations.

      But we don't see that.

      We see

      (1) Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.
      (2) Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and 'fully formed.'

      We see the shifts to new complicated, interrelated ecosystems like a flip of a switch.

      If you don't believe me, try it. Trace human ancestry back to fish. See what you can come up with.

      Delete
    69. Genetic variation does not only come from mutations. You can read Mayr if you would like more information about that.

      Statis/sudden appearance - you are basing your facts on Gould, who clearly interpreted them to mean that the gradual, step by step change occurred, but proceeded at a variable pace - sometimes quickly (geologically speaking, still millions of years), and sometimes slowly. This is well within current evolutionary thought.

      You want to see fossils of every species between fish and human? They do not exist. I also don't have a picture of my daughter between her 4th birthday and 6th birthday. Does that mean she was never 5 years old, or does it mean my set of pictures is incomplete?

      You are maintaining that the problems with evolution are so severe that the theory must be completely thrown out and replaced with the theory of God's existence. All I am seeing here are some questions that necessitate a refinement of the theory (e.g. Gould's theory of punctuated equlibrium). And even if the questions were unanswered they are quite minor compared with the questions created by the theory of God's existence.

      Delete
    70. Ok, so your easy explanation for the fossil record contradicting evolution is that first of all there are very few fossils and second of punctuated equilibrium.

      The first explanation is bad, because there are tons, virtually mountains, of fossils in museums and private collections worldwide. You can buy some nice trilobites inexpensively online.

      Punctuated equilibrium is also a bad answer. It suggests that new species do in fact develop gradually, however only in small, isolated populations. In these small populations, new, beneficial mutations are not diluted by the population's large size and are able to reach fixation. Once fully formed, these new, more capable species suddenly burst out and become dominant.

      However this is obviously nonsense.

      In fact we know that actually, genetically isolated populations tend to degenerate rather than improve.

      The Samaritans of Israel are considered one of the most inbred communities in the world, with 46% marrying first cousins and more than 80% marrying blood relatives, according to research by Israeli geneticist Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, who spent most of her career studying the community. Their rate of birth defects was 10 times higher than the nationwide average and included rare blood diseases, Usher syndrome, deafness, muteness, blindness and physical handicaps. The community today only survives thanks to modern genetic testing which must be done prior to any marriage.

      The Amish suffer from higher incidences of particular genetic disorders, including dwarfism (Ellis-van Creveld syndrome) and various metabolic disorders because almost all Amish descend from about 200 18th century founders.

      Likewise, in Appalachia, inbreeding in isolated communities, particularly prior to the advent of the railroad, apparently lowered intelligence.

      So the fabled isolated populations which created all new species in fact would have died off from the effects of inbreeding long before producing anything worthwhile.

      So again, in conclusion, evolution clearly didn't happen and couldn't happen. If you want to accept it on blind faith, that's up to you.

      Delete
    71. You brought up long periods of stasis followed by sudden appearance of new species, which I explained per Gould as periods of slow or no change followed by periods of relatively rapid change (geologically speaking - still slow and gradual in real time).

      If trilobytes come from a period of stasis, then yes there will be plenty of fossil trilobytes. But there will not be plenty of fossils from the times where species change (geologically) rapidly.

      Punctuated equilibrium does not depend on small populations, though isolation of part of a population from the rest is one potential driver.

      As far as isolated populations deteriorating rather than adapting, that does not seem to happen with island populations of birds, lizards, etc., as Darwin found in the Galapagos - each island had slightly different varieties of bird, adapted to the local conditions.

      Quote from Darwin: "Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends. "

      How do you explain the birds Darwin found? Was each species present separately on Noah's ark? Or do they all descend from one pair of birds? And if so, how did they each get modified to suit their environment?

      Delete
    72. Let's try to stay focused.

      Now you're admitting that the fossils are a problem for evolution, as everyone since Darwin has realized. And your solution is punctuated equilibrium. And your answer to my critique of punctuated equilibrium is that punctuated equilibrium doesn't actually mean what I claim it means, but rather it means something else which really would work.

      Like what?

      Delete
    73. Also, by the way, Mayr does not propose any mechanism for the creation of new organs and limbs which does not involve random chance genetic mutations. Neither does anyone else. So you must still deal with my argument above (the illiterate printer analogy) which demonstrates that evolution is impossibly improbable.

      Delete
    74. Re fossils: Darwin originally expected that gradual progressions would be found, and they were not. That is a legitimate issue for discussion. Evolutionary theory was refined to accommodate this data (punctuated equilibrium, which just means that evolution sometimes progresses quickly, sometimes slowly). Other schools of thought exist as well. Evolution was not thrown out wholesale, since it still answers all the same questions it did originally. Creation does not give satisfactory answers to those questions without raising other, more serious ones (e.g. I see you are avoiding the question about Darwin's birds).


      Your illiterate printer analogy is nonsensical. You can't prove that evolution is impossible just by asserting that it is so. What if every bacteria, plant, animal, and person on Earth was an illiterate printer, and they each worked nonstop for a billion years?

      Delete
    75. As I explained punctuated equilibrium doesn't work, therefore the fossil record demonstrates that evolution didn't happen, as Darwin himself admitted. His assumption was that more fossils would vindicate his theory, but of course they haven't.

      So, to repeat for the nth time, evolution didn't happen.

      Regarding whether it could have happened, so you're saying that a billion or trillion illiterate printers working for a billion years indeed would produce all of known literature, through a process of random typographical errors and customer selection.

      We don't have any good way to estimate that, because we don't know how complex life is. We do know that a single bacterium, the simplest life form is, is so complex that even the greatest scientists cannot create one from simple chemicals. So I don't think adding in more printers will solve the problem.

      So, to repeat for the nth time, evolution couldn't happen.

      Delete
    76. Punctuated equilibrium just means evolution sometimes proceeds quickly and sometimes slowly. What part of that doesn't work?

      Yes, the way that probability works means that given enough illiterate printers and enough time all known literature could be produced. The question is how many printers and how much time would you need.

      Delete
    77. "Punctuated equilibrium just means evolution sometimes proceeds quickly and sometimes slowly."

      Why and how?

      You seem to be very short on details, very big on generalities.

      "the fossils can easily be explained"

      "God raises more questions than evolution"

      but somehow you never clarify anything.

      You just throw out another general statement.

      "evolution sometimes proceeds quickly"

      And around we go again.

      "given enough illiterate printers and enough time all known literature could be produced"

      But there obviously could never be enough.

      If there were as many monkeys as there are atoms in the observable universe typing extremely fast for trillions of times the life of the universe, the probability of the monkeys replicating even a single page of Shakespeare is unfathomably minute.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem#Probabilities

      So go ahead, hit me with the next vague statement.

      Let me help, how about this:

      "But evolution is more likely than God."

      Good, right? Just give me your password, and I will keep both sides of the conversation going while you take a break for a couple of days.

      Delete
    78. Why and how?

      First, how: the same way that it works without punctuated eqilibrium - small variations accumulate into large changes.

      As to why: you have given several examples of extinction events, caused by changes in the environment. These environmental changes can lead to evolution.

      You have trouble believing that organisms can change - but again I ask you to explain Darwin's birds. Or maybe explain the 12,000 species of ants in the world. Did Noah take 12,000 pairs of ants aboard his ark, or did he take one pair, whose descendants became today's ants? Where did the genetic variation come from to produce 12,000 species from one species? Why did the descendants of that one pair not die off due to inbreeding?

      Delete
    79. "These environmental changes can lead to evolution."

      Ok, so it's the global apocalypses which stimulate evolution to happen very quickly.

      So why is there a concern about conservationism, global warming, nuclear war, etc?

      Why not say: Bring it on! That's just what we need, another massive catastrophe to get life out of it's rut and jump start evolution.

      Maybe out of the smoldering ashes will emerge super intelligent turtles who will conquer space and colonize other solar systems.

      Delete
    80. Not relevant to our discussion.

      Any answer re birds or ants?

      Delete
    81. Actually it's completely relevant, because it demonstrates the absurdity of your beliefs. No one in their right mind imagines that a global apoclypse will result in the improvment of life on earth.

      The birds and rats are irrelevant. Pigeons also. Have you read Orgin? I'm often surprised by how few atheists have, but then I suppose plenty of Christians never read the Bible.

      Anyway, Darwins argument is that just like humans are able to breed all kinds of different varieties of pigeons using artificial selection, so in nature, given eons of time, completely new limbs and organs can form through natural selection and a voila a worm will become a man. Watchmaker is refuted, God is dead.

      This is so ludicrious it reads like a parody. The most amateur animal breeder knows that there are very specific and unchangeble limits to variation wiithin a species and all the selection in the world will not get you past that. Pigs will never fly.

      I don't think Darwin was really serious. Like an atheist Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) Darwin was a scammer. Either that or a moron,

      Don't trust me. Read your Origin, just read it!

      Delete
    82. I am not sure why I have to spell this out:

      If a global catastrophe eradicated humans, even though it would likely drive increased evolution that would not be good for the humans, who by this point are extinct.

      Since we are humans, this is something that would not be good as far as we are concerned.

      Really not sure why that is not clear to you.

      In any event, evolution is not good or bad, it is just species adapting to their environments. I don't know why we as humanity would have a goal of driving more evolution.

      The birds and ants are exactly the topic we are talking about. You have an alternative theory, which you claim is superior to evolution, to explain the origin of species - I am asking you for some details about your theory.

      Delete
    83. Well, there are humans, ecologists and conservationists, who worry about life on earth as a whole, and you believe that for life on earth a thermonuclear holocuast would be the most wonderful thing possible.

      But of course you don't really believe that do you?

      Happy new year throw! Best of luck.

      Delete
    84. I don't know what you are talking about.

      Re-read what I wrote and respond again.

      Thanks

      Delete
  5. Nice post. My JPS Jewish Study Bible in its translation footnotes:

    The place name is
    otherwise unknown; and the alternative
    in translators' note a, Kadesh,
    has no connection to God's
    theophany. The Heb can also be
    understood (with LXX, Samaritan;
    cf. NRSV) as "with Him were
    thousands of holy ones," i.e., the
    divine council who accompany
    God into battle (32.8 n.; Pss. 68.18;
    89.8). This alternative translation,
    which only changes the vowels of
    one word in the MT, (from approaclzed
    to "with Him,") is to be
    preferred since it preserves the
    poem's representation of God as
    Divine Warrior (see 33.1-29 n.).
    God similarly ventures forth from
    Sinai, at the head of a divine host
    of "thousands upon thousands,"
    to appear in theophany in Ps.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sigh, people still engaging with Stein, the repugnant blogger who publicized an individual's personal address on his blog and suggested that she commit suicide. He states that homosexuals should be killed.

    Serious challenges to his flimsy arguments will be met by non-responses or non-sequiturs. Why do you continue to provide him with a voice here? Does the baal-ha-blog not know of his history?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously, I am making you feel very guilty. You're really desperate aren't you? You want to silence anyone telling you the truth. That won't save you from hell, believe me.

      And what is this great affection for sodomites, by the way? These people are, among other things, far more frequently suicidal, more likely to have sex with minors, more likely to abuse substances, incur far higher medical costs and still die younger than the general population. But delusional liberals want us to believe that they are some sort of heroes.

      Delete
    2. To be fair, the bible also states that homosexuals should be killed.

      Delete
    3. Stein's viciousness on the blogs pale in comparison with his sociopathic history in his own life: for his personal advancement, stein has besmirched his adoptive parents, deceived moshe feinstein to grant him conversion instead of sending him for psychiatric treatment as a teenager suffering from rage stemming from unwanted homosexual obsessions. His wife left him, he lost his job because of his inappropriate behavior towards a 21 year old girl, got expelled from nursing school, got chased out of Monsey and had to relocate to Boston.. the list goes on and on,, yet as a typical sociopath, he has yet to take responsibility or acknowledge what he has done to his own family as well as complete innocent strangers who have ignited his rage. It's not surprising that he resurfaced here and is engaging in the very behavior that has caused others and himself so much harm.

      Everything written here and much much more is easily found by simply googling his name.

      Delete
    4. When I read this I know I am truly succeeding. I am the ultimate "buzz kill". Every miserable dropout who reads my comments can never really enjoy an atheistic life again. The seeds of doubt which I have planted will nag him day and night.

      Good for you anonymous; and all drop out bloggers are anonymous cowards. While you are burning in hell forever, I'll be looking down from paradise and laughing. :)

      Delete
    5. Jacob Stein - You need to improve your understanding of Judaism. I have explained to you why your comments regarding Homosexuals are not valid Judaism. Ask your Rabbi. Second you write "While you are burning in hell forever, I'll be looking down from paradise and laughing. :)" This again is not a Jewish concept. So again you need to speak to a Rabbi. I suspect either you are trolling for one reason or another, or have mental issues, or are a secret atheist or maybe from some from some other religion trying to defame Judaism. You cited storm fronter and now burning in hell forever which support my contentions. Regardless, I suggest you seek psychiatric help. There are crazy religious people out there - no wonder many atheist bloggers are afraid to post their real Identity. Shalom and Best Wishes - from ACJA

      Delete
    6. "your comments regarding Homosexuals are not valid Judaism"

      And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death

      Leviticus 20:13

      http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0320.htm#13

      "While you are burning in hell forever, I'll be looking down from paradise and laughing. :)" This again is not a Jewish concept."

      Believing, observant Jews are going to eternal paradise according to the Talmud Berakot 17a: In the World to Come there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads feasting on the brightness of God's presence.

      Jews who are deliberately non-believing or non-observant are going to hell forever according to the Talmud Rosh haShanah 17a. The Talmud Berakoth 57b explains that the fire of hell is sixty times stronger than ordinary fire.

      This is referred to in the book of Daniel 12:2-3: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

      Delete