Thursday, November 29, 2007

Email Correspondence with BeyondBT

Part I: Opener: The importance of intellectual honesty and openness

Part 2: Framing the issues for a productive discussion-The four questions

Part 3: Refusal to answer questions coupled with pseudo philosophical word play

Part 4: More evasion, beyondbt avoids the heart of the issue - - If Torah’s physical / historical claims do not hold up to scrutiny how can one trust the Torah’s metaphysical claims

Part 5: More obfuscation and dishonesty beyondbt:“The Torah is not a history or science book”

Part 6: More intellectually dishonesty by means of distinctions without a difference beyondbt: “The Exodus and Flood did occur, but that does not make those claims historical”

Part 7: Shifting the focus again using Kiruv apologetics and more pseudo philosophical word play.

Part 8: Obfuscation and obscurantism continues, and extends to the Rabbi of BeyondBT’s

Part 9: Closing BeyondBT never answers one question and ignores ALL evidence


Part I: Opener: The importance of intellectual honesty and openness

From KAN wrote: KAN’s opening

First of all I want to thank you for taking the time to dialogue with your fellow searchers. I sincerely hope that your participation in this discussion is in the spirit of genuine openness, integrity, and humility. In this regard, I think it is very important for us to keep in mind that we are not advocates for a particular position - - which is apologetics, but seekers of truth, and that such a mindset is a prerequisite for any true and honest dialogue. I also think it is important before we proceed to highlight what I think are the fundamental differences between apologetics and genuine dialogue.

Engaging in dialogue consists of implicitly accepting the risk of being shown wrong or having to alter one’s belief system, and it is the mutual recognition that such risks have been assumed that gives dialogue its cooperative nature. It is the cooperative rather than the adversarial nature of this which makes it a good thing for people to engage in. Apologetics, however, is not a cooperative endeavor. The apologist has not assumed the risk of changing his belief system.

The key difference is that those engaging in honest dialogue are willing to be wrong and adjust their beliefs accordingly while the other is not. In a dialogue there exists equal ground, not between the positions but between the interlocutors. This equal ground consists in the mutual acceptance of the risks mentioned above, but such equal ground does not exist in the case of apologetics, for while both parties are convinced that their position is the correct one, at least one of the parties does not even acknowledge that his position might actually be wrong in the end. He is not cooperatively striving to find the truth of the matter, for he “knows” that he already has the truth in the matter.

The bottom line is this; if you have integrity, you must be willing to shift your initial position in conformity with the evidence. After all, how can you have integrity when you expect people to be open to your persuasion, an influence which may result in an individual making momentous and sometimes irreversible life changes, when you your self will not reciprocate the openness. With this in mind, I ask you - - BeyondBT, are you willing to consider the fact that you could have made a major life decision based on error or is it already a forgone conclusion that this could not be the case? If it is already a forgone conclusion that you are correct, why are we even having a discussion? Wouldn’t it be the height of hypocrisy and dishonesty for you to engage myself and others when you fail to extend courtesy and decency with regard to disclosing your intransigency?

I look forward to your response.

Regards,
KAN

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Part 2: Framing the issues for a productive discussing -The four questions

4 questions for BeyondBT
Does Torah contain statements of fact (use any definition you choose) that can be proved or disproved by an objective outside observer?

§ If it does, what are they - formulate them. If it does not, any claim that the torah is true is mere opinion, but tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as I've seen on some bumper stickers.

§ If you are willing to assert that Torah has at least some truth to it, i.e., contains factual and provable statements, would you also be willing to take the next step?

§ If so, would you to draw up a list of verifiable Torah statements, preferably such that, if disproved, would change your attitude to Judaism.

Part 3: Refusal to answer questions coupled with pseudo philosophical word play

BeyondBT writes:

Although I'm not really sure that's your real name at this point, there's no proof. How can I know [who you are]? You think I should believe you, just because you said so.

I also mentioned to a friend who went to Machon Shlomo, …………. he did not believe it. He wanted your real names and the dates that you went there. And even if you provided that, he said that wouldn't prove anything.

Did you see the email thread that XGH is a fake. He hasn't been frum in over 10 years and he's just trying to pull other people off the derech.

Do you know that there is a significant number of people that don't think the Holocaust happened? Can you prove it?

Do you think that on 9/11 planes commandered by terrorists really went into the Pentagon or was that staged? Can you prove it?

Many people think that Bush and the US is controlled by a cabal of Jews. Others believe that the Saudi's dictate almost his every foreign policy move. What do we really know about this?.

Some people think that the Israeli's are killers and war mongers and if they would just give the Palestinians a state, there would be peace in the middle east and Hamas would come around. Others think Hamas really has every intention of destroying Israel and nothing will change that. What do we know is true in this situation. Is what we know, knowledge, belief or faith.

Do you know whether what I said about XGH is true or not? Do you have proof one way or the other?

To really discuss these issues, the concepts of faith (little evidence), belief (some evidence) and knowledge (significant evidence) have to be clear and have a common understanding in both participants minds.

We need to make clear, when we know something, when we believe something, when we have faith in something. Can one party really think that everything in his mind is absolute knowledge, while anyone who disagrees with them is coming from a position of belief or faith……………………………….

……………. take some time to think about what you know (knowledge) and how you know it. Consider all the things you consider facts, who you're relatives are, that the money in the bank and investments will be there tomorrow, that the Protocols of Zion is not true, etc...

Again, how do we know what we know. Do we require scientific proof (ie repeatable experiments) for everything we consider knowledge.

Again look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belief
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact

for starters. Wikipedia is certainly not the last word on anything, but often a good starting point.


Be Well
BeyondBT


From KAN wrote:
BeyondBT,
Your response is a red-herring. I am not sure if you are seeking to evade responsibility for answering the 4 questions or if you are confused with regard to what he is asking. I would like you to please answer the questions below. Nothing more and nothing less. This should provide a productive framework for our discussion.
§ Does Torah contain statements of fact (use any definition you choose) that can be proved or disproved by an objective outside observer?

§ If it does, what are they - formulate them. If it does not, any claim that the torah is true is mere opinion, but tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as I've seen on some bumper stickers.

§ If you are willing to assert that Torah has at least some truth to it, i.e., contains factual and provable statements, would you also be willing to take the next step?

§ If so, would you to draw up a list of verifiable Torah statements, preferably such that, if disproved, would change your attitude to Judaism.

>>>> Do we require scientific proof (ie repeatable experiments) for everything we consider knowledge.>>.

With regard to the standard of proof, I do not expect the evidence to be *beyond a reasonable doubt.* In fact, I would be very happy if you could proffer evidence that would lead a reasonable man to believe the truth Of Torah is *more probable then not.* The problem, as I see it, is that not only is their no positive evidence to corroborate the historical and scientific claims of the Torah, but there is, in fact, massive evidence that contradicts the Torah’s claims. In truth, I would even be very willing to entertain the possibility of Torah being true without any positive evidence that corroborates its veracity, but the existence of massive contradictory evidence (evident, as Marc Shapiro notes, from the “fundamentals of biology, physics, astronomy, history, anthropology, geology, paleontology, zoology, linguistics etc. etc. etc.”) makes acceptance of Torah very hard, if not impossible, for any individual who bases his life on reason and common sense.
Regards,
KAN

**********************************************************
from Beyond BT -----

KAN

I'm putting together something which lays out why I believe there is a G-d, why there is a spiritual (read not physical) component to the world and why I believe the Torah is from G-d. My Rebbeim and many commentators feel that not every aspect of the Torah has to be taken literally so I am not blown out of the water off by the famous "Letter of My Rabbi" and works of that nature.

If anybody wants to continue communicating and looking for truth, that's great, but I don't feel that setting down preconditions for talking benefits either party.

Be Well
BeyondBT



From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT,

Again, please answer the questions.
§ Does Torah contain statements of fact (use any definition you choose) that can be proved or disproved by an objective outside observer?

§ If it does, what are they - formulate them. If it does not, any claim that the torah is true is mere opinion, but tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as I've seen on some bumper stickers.

§ If you are willing to assert that Torah has at least some truth to it, i.e., contains factual and provable statements, would you also be willing to take the next step?

§ If so, would you to draw up a list of verifiable Torah statements, preferably such that, if disproved, would change your attitude to Judaism.

Regards,
KAN


Part 4: More evasion, beyondbt avoids the heart of the issue - - If Torah’s physical / historical claims do not hold up to scrutiny how can one trust the Torah’s metaphysical claims



from Beyond BT -----

KAN,

We have to define some assumptions that are implicit in the questions.

1) There is a G-d who is not physical. We'll define anything that is not physical as spiritual.
2) Man is a combination of spiritual and physical components and the Torah discusses both the spiritual and physical realms

If you don't accept those two premises then you are viewing the Torah as only concerning the physical world and the Torah can not be understood from a purely physical viewpoint, there must be a spiritual component originating from the totally spiritual creator.

If you agree with these two premises, I'll go forward.

Be Well
BeyondBT

********************************************************
From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT,

First, in response to your comment I am laying out what I think are our shared fundamental assumptions:

1. G,d exists

2. The Torah makes metaphysical claims (i.e. non physical reality NOT subject to the scientific method), such as the existence of G,d, his communication with Avram, Yitzchak, Yaacov, Moshe,etc, as well as such events as the Revelation at Sinai.

3. The Torah makes Physical / Historical claims such as Rabbits chew their cud and the existence of such historical events as the Exodus, the Global flood, and the concentration of the entire world’s population in Bavel where the world’s population all communicated in one language. These Physical / Historical claims ARE subject to the scientific method, which includes historical and comparative religion analysis, as well as the disciplines of anthropology, geology, paleontology, zoology, philology, archeology, chemistry, physics etc, etc

Second, I would like to emphasize the heart of the matter: If these PHYSICAL CLAIMS of the Torah - - which are subject to the same analytical standards of analysis that modern scholars of numerous disciplines have successfully applied to other current and historical events - - do not hold up to scrutiny, then what am I to make of the Torah’s METAPHYSICAL CLAIMS? After all, if the author of the Torah is in error regarding the basics of zoology (i.e. in the case of the arnevet), or the basics of world history during the time of the flood or Bavel, why should I take the next step and assume that the metaphysical claims are true and hence that the author of the Torah is G,d himself?

The four questions that I have patiently asked you to answer at least a half dozen times, are based on this relationship between the Torah’s physical and metaphysical claims. Why are you continually obfuscating by ignoring our request to answer these basic questions? I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt by not viewing your evasion as a demonstration of a lack of integrity, something I discussed earlier. Am I to assume that you are not acting in good faith, in the spirit of openness, integrity and honesty? If your unresponsiveness is not based on a lack of integrity, could it be based on some kind of fear regarding where the answers may lead. Surely if the Torah is true, it will hold up to this most basic analysis.

Lastly and most importantly, I ask you - -BeyondBT, for the seventh time, please answer the 4 questions below.

§ Does Torah contain statements of fact (use any definition you choose) that can be proved or disproved by an objective outside observer?

§ If it does, what are they - formulate them. If it does not, any claim that the torah is true is mere opinion, but tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as I've seen on some bumper stickers.

§ If you are willing to assert that Torah has at least some truth to it, i.e., contains factual and provable statements, would you also be willing to take the next step?

§ If so, would you to draw up a list of verifiable Torah statements, preferably such that, if disproved, would change your attitude to Judaism.


I would also like to ask a 5th question. Are you willing to take the risk that you may be in error? As noted earlier it would be the height of hypocrisy and dishonesty to not reciprocate this most basic of principles.

I look forward to your response.

All the best,
KAN


Part 5: More obfuscation and dishonesty beyondbt:“The Torah is not a history or science book”

from Beyond BT -----


I'm not sure I'm correctly understanding your use of the word claims.

The Torah is not a history, science, math or archaelogy book. The Torah is instructions for living and contains both a written component and an oral component. It is not making claims like a scientist or a philosopher that they want to prove. It's an infinite unknowable G-d communicating to a partially physicial man on how to live in this world. Many commentators ask why the need for narratives, in fact the first Rashi intimates that questions.

How do you understand any communication between a non physical G-d and any of the people in the Torah. If you were a reporter on the scene during any of the communications would you be able to say you saw it. No, because we are talking about the spiritual interfacing with the physical, it's not the same as a Barber Walters conversation. The one event where Barber Walters would be able to verify would be at the giving of the Torah and based on the description in the Torah this was unlike any other event in history and not an experience we can easily understand.

So please explain what you mean when you state the Torah makes claims? Are you viewing the Torah as a philosophic or scientific treaties which just happened to be written by G-d?

The Greeks attempted to turn the Torah into just another book in the library and to some extent they succeeded. But if we start with the premise that there is a G-d who created the world with a purpose and the Torah (both written and oral) was the tool by which the infinite and totally spiritual G-d communicates with the partly spiritual and partly physical man, we get a very different picture and its not one of G-d making claims and man proving or disproving G-d's claims.

Be Well
BeyondBT

*********************************************************
From KAN wrote:


>>>>I'm not sure I'm correctly understanding your use of the word claims. The Torah is not a history, science, math or archaelogy book…… It is not making claims like a scientist or a philosopher
that they want to prove. >>>

What are your saying!? Are you saying that the HISTORICAL EVENTS of the Exodus, Flood, and Bavel never happened? That they are creative metaphors and myths that express theological and moral
lessons? If this is so, please provide support within the messorah that allows for those events to be interpreted as anything other then REAL HISTORICAL EVENTS. I have never heard of this. Therefore,
my original point, that the Torah makes Historical claims, still stands. The Torah also makes many scientific claims, like a rabbit chews its cud, something modern zoology disproves. So yes the Torah
IS “making claims like a scientist.” It also, also as stated above makes historical claims.

As I stated earlier, why should I accept the Torah’s metaphysical claims, or even its “instructions for living” when its author is unaware of basic historic and scientific facts?

Also, my personal belief in G,d and the soul is independent of whether or not Torah is True. It appears, however to me that your sense of G,d and spirituality is completely dependant on the Torah’s authenticity. If this is true, it would be most unfortunate, because many people throughout history have developed
a very sophisticated and profound sense of the transcendent, which includes G,d without any recourse to belief in Torah. In any event, please reread my prior comments and answer the 4 questions, which I
think you should now understand given my above clarification.


Wishing you all the best.
KAN**********************************************************
from Beyond BT -----

Again, the Torah is not a history or a science book. When it makes a statement it can be understood at four levels Pshat, Remez, Drash and Sod. I don't think you're looking to me to teach you Torah, but pshat does not mean historical or scientific fact. (BTW - I remember a genuis type friend with a Maharal orientation getting so excited about Slifkin, because it would force him to understand the Torah at a deeper level.)

Again, you are looking at the Torah as a text book in the library. It is not. That is an axiom. The Torah is the work of G-d and is not comparable to the works of man. It has to be understood by man and that understanding can be achieved at many levels. For example my understanding of Torah is much
different then the Gaon, R' Moshe Feinstein, the Maharal's, etc.. But anybody can use the Torah to get a greater awareness and consciousness of G-d. But non Jews or Jews *can* get an awareness of G-d without the Torah, it's just not the same as with the Torah. My awareness of G-d and the universe on my level is not even close to the awareness of Gaon, R' Moshe Feinstein, the Maharal's.

I'm curious. When you say the words Historical Fact you seem to have a clear idea what that means. You seem to treat a historical fact at the same level of knowledge as a reapeatable proven fact like hydrogen and oxygen equal water. Every source that I look at on the Web about historical fact, does not define it that way. For example
http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/historical_facts/
http://courses.wcupa.edu/jones/his480/lectures/500fact.htm
http://www.history-ontheweb.co.uk/concepts/facts21.htm

What is your understanding of historical fact. And yes this has to get back to what we know and how we know it, which differs from discipline to discipline.


Be Well
BeyondBT

********************************************************
From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT,


I will respond to your other statements later in the afternoon or after Shabbos if I don’t have time. But in brief, I want to point out that you do not seem to have understood anything I have written as your response contains all sorts of non sequiturs.

Does the Torah make claims about historical events and scientific facts - - Yes or No? It’s as simple as that. For example, DID THE FLOOD HAPPEN? DID THE EXODUS OCCUR? DOES A RABBIT CHEW ITS CUD? It is true that these events could be understood on many levels –but the FACT IS they are also understood on a LITERAL LEVEL. If this is the case YOU DO NOT NEED TO TALK ABOUT Remez, Drash and Sod --- They are IRRELEVANT. Do you understand this? I am not trying to be insulting here.

After you answer these questions, we can discuss how historians corroborate the existence and reliability of historical accounts. I am not sure how much exposure you have to ancient history, especially Near Eastern history, or with the historical process, but this kind of background, whether developed formally in a
University setting or informally through self education, would be very helpful. I can walk you though how historians evaluate the veracity of historical figures like George Washington, or historical events like the battle of Marathon (490 BC) and then we can compare and contrast this with the flood and the Exodus.

Again, I want to emphasize the importance of approaching this dialogue in the spirit of openness, humility and integrity. That means you fully acknowledge that you could be wrong. There is no doubt I could be. I would want nothing more then Torah Judaism to be true, but I go where the evidence, common sense and my conscience lead me. I pray that you have the courage to do the same.

Please reread what I say below.

>> What are your saying!? Are you saying that the HISTORICAL EVENTS of the Exodus, Flood, and Bavel never happened? That they are creative metaphors and myths that express theological and moral
lessons? If this is so, please provide support within the messorah that allows for those events to be interpreted as anything other then REAL HISTORICAL EVENTS. I have never heard of this. Therefore,
my original point, that the Torah makes Historical claims, still stands. The Torah also makes many scientific claims, like a rabbit chews its cud, something modern zoology disproves. So yes the Torah
IS “making claims like a scientist.” It also, also as stated above makes historical claims. >>>

All the best
KAN

********************************************************
from Beyond BT -----
KAN
And alas you have not read or understood anything I said. THE TORAH DOES NOT
MAKE HISTORICAL OR SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS LIKE A HISTORIAN OR A SCIENTIST DOES.
PSHAT DOES NOT MEAN LITERAL. CAN I MAKE THIS STATEMENT ANY MORE CLEAR.

(Capitals represent shouting. I really don't like to shout.)

Again I ask, do you treat a historical hypothesis with the same degree as "factfulness" as two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom will produce water. I don't, but that doesn't mean I consider all historical theory untrue. I just don't give it the same weight as a the scientifically repeatable and provable fact of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom will produce water.

It's really not a trick question. You can answer, no - with a bu,. or you can answer yes, I treat them with the same degree as "factfulness". The answer to this question will really help me understand were you're
perspective and where your coming from.

Have a Good Shabbos
BeyondBT

******************************************************
From KAN wrote:



>>>And alas you have not read or understood anything I said. THE TORAH DOES NOT
MAKE HISTORICAL OR SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS LIKE A HISTORIAN OR A SCIENTIST DOES.
PSHAT DOES NOT MEAN LITERAL. CAN I MAKE THIS STATEMENT ANY MORE CLEAR.>>>

What you seem to be confused over is the difference between some aspects of interpreting ma’aseh breishit and other parts of the Torah. With respect to ma’aseh breishit, it can be argued the messorah supports some allegorical and non literal interpretation. An example of this can be found in the Rambam’s Moreh Nevuchim. Slifkin discuses this in his book Challenge where he writes “Rambam understood the six days of creation to be describing a conceptual hierarchy of the world rather than a historical account of Creation. … [Rambam] believed that most of the account of Adam in Genesis is not a historical account of an individual but instead a portrayal of the role of man in the world.”

It is important to note that this kind of interpretation - - which by the way is disputed by the entire cheredi establishment in Israel - - where one consider a statement (s) in Torah to be NOT LITERAL (i.e. allegorized (mashal)), must be supported by the messorah. To the best of my knowledge, there is NO messorah that allows us to NOT consider events such as the Exodus, Bavel and the Flood to be anything other then actual historical events. In another words, there is no Chazal, Rishon, Achron that has ever allegorized the Flood or the Exodus. Therefore, the Torah CLAIMS that the Exodus, the flood and Bavel actually occurred in history. It is making a HISTORICAL CLAIM .

If this is not true, I would like you to please write a new post on BeyondBT where you state: “THE EXODUS AND THE FLOOD NEVER LITERALLY HAPPENED.” Then I want you to have your Rav also make a post and say the same thing: “THE EXODUS AND THE FLOOD NEVER LITERALLY HAPPENED.” If you and your Rav make this post, I will acknowledge that my understanding of our tradition was in error and apologize. But I would nonetheless be very confused because if the flood is just a moshol then that means chazal and our mesorah are wrong about the fundamental nature of the Torah. How then can one be confident in the historical truth of yetzias mitzrayim or matan torah if parts of the torah like the flood turn out not to be true (at least in the literal sense). It would then appear that our mesorah gives us no basis for determining which parts are true history and which are moshol.

Another thing that I find confusing is your repeated request that I define standards of evidence for what constitutes a historical fact or event when you unequivocally state that THE TORAH IS NOT MAKING A HISTORICAL CLAIM. If this is true, why on earth are you asking to discuss the issue? If the event never literally happed, there is nothing to discuss. Period.

In any event, let me define for you what I consider to be historical events
1) The war between Rome and Judea in 70 AD was a historical event.
2) The civil war in American history was a historical event.
3) The inquisition from Spain was an historical event.
4) The battle of marathon between the Greeks and the Persians was an historical event.

Now, obviously, none of these events can be reproduced for eyewitness to observe the way we observe repeatable and reproducible events in nature though the scientific method i.e. h2o. That would be quite a silly proposition. What we can do, however, is evaluate the likelihood of different historical events, by weighing all the evidence. In order to accomplish this, historians analyze extant primary and secondary sources written contemporaneous to or soon after the event, preferably from multiple independent sources. They also examine the archeological record, which they date through multiple independent methods (i.e. strata layer, carbon dating, and numerous other methods which can all be cross checked). Moreover, for events such as the flood historians can cull evidence from hard scientific data generated by geological and genetic analysis. All the evidence together can provide the historian with confidence in at least the broad outlines of major historical event, although the particulars are always open to dispute.

If you acknowledge that the Torah claims certain historical events did indeed occur, then we can take the next step and discuss the evidence for such events. We can also compare and contrast this with historical events where the evidence leaves little doubt for the events actual occurrence.

Although older historical events are harder to confirm, we can confidently substantiate the broad outlines of the major occurrences, although, as already stated, there are always differences of opinion on the reliability of the events details.

To make this clearer, I am copying an excerpt from your own link that defines historical fact:
“According to the Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary a fact is "anything done or that comes to pass; an act; a deed; an effect produced or achieved; an event; reality; truth; a true statement." To make this kind of fact "historical," you must include the time, place, act, and the protagonist--usually human--who performed the act. A historical fact also has a source from which all of the other parts of the fact are derived.”
• Actor(s): The entire world’s animal and human population.
• Action: A flood destroys the entire world, except for the humans and people on Noah’s Ark.
• Place: The entire world
• Time: 2105 BCE
• Source: the Torah
I hope this was helpful and that it will assist you in answering the 5 questions I initially asked you to answer. After you answer these questions we can then discuss and debate how much credence to give the evidence. As already noted there is no reason to continue our discussion if such events like the Exodus and the flood never occurred. The 5 questions are below:

§ Does Torah contain statements of fact (use any definition you choose) that can be proved or disproved by an objective outside observer?

§ If it does, what are they - formulate them. If it does not, any claim that the torah is true is mere opinion, but tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as I've seen on some bumper stickers.

§ If you are willing to assert that Torah has at least some truth to it, i.e., contains factual and provable statements, would you also be willing to take the next step?

§ If so, would you to draw up a list of verifiable Torah statements, preferably such that, if disproved, would change your attitude to Judaism.

I would also like to ask a 5th question. Are you willing to take the risk that you may be in error? As noted earlier it would be the height of hypocrisy and dishonesty to not reciprocate this most basic of principles. If it is already a forgone conclusion that you cannot be wrong, I think you would agree that you would lack the moral authority to promote Torah as a lifestyle unless you make full disclosure that you believe Torah is true irrespective of the evidence for or against its veracity and that as such nothing can change your mind. This admission will allow the seeker to evaluate your information in the context of your vested interest and strong and unyielding bias.

Bye the way, I have nothing against people who are Frum. It can be helpful for many in creating meaning, refining their character and providing a sense of community. What I do have a problem with are people who engage in outreach without disclosing their biases as mentioned above.

I hope you had a nice Shabbos

Best Wishes,

KAN


Part 6: More intellectually dishonesty by means of distinctions without a difference beyondbt: “The Exodus and Flood did occur, but that does not make those claims historical”




from Beyond BT -----

KAN

It's refreshing to see that you don't give the same credence to historical facts as physical facts.

You are correct that most/all reliable Torah Scholars believe the Exodus and Flood did occur, but that does not make those claims historical. Historical claims as are known in the secular world and made as a result of primarily physical evidence and theories based on that evidence.

Knowledge of G-d and belief in Torah MiSinai are primarily based on ~80 generations of Mesorah from the time of Moshe The Rambam in the intro to
Torah list the primary carriers of the Mesorah from the time of Moshe to his
time.
2) Outside evidence which can include inductive and deductive reasoning.
3) Knowledge beyond the physical. Similiar to how we know we exist even
though we can't prove it (Descartes like knowledge).

Tthere are three ways we know things

**********************************************************
From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT,

When you say proof is based on 3 things, one of which is *Outside evidence which can include inductive and deductive reasoning,* isn't this the same thing as what you call *Historical claims as
are known in the secular world and made as a result of primarily physical evidence and theories based on that evidence.*

>>You are correct that most/all reliable Torah Scholars believe the Exodus and Flood did occur, but that does not make those claims historical.>>>

It is most unfortunate that you are engaging in these kinds of word games. This is a distinction without a real difference and you are playing with language in a pseudo philosophical way so that you can
create the necessary fiction to communicate an imaginary reality. Really, who are you kidding? If you do not understand this, then I am not sure if we should continue our dialogue as we are on two entirely different wavelengths. This would be okay and I do not harbor any hard feelings and would wish you all the best. I am definitely disappointed though and I think this kind of intellectual dishonesty goes to the heart of my 5th question which you never answered. Please let me know if you are open. It is really unfair to ignore this question.

Bye the way, you have finally, albeit indirectly, answered the first two questions.

1.Does Torah contain statements of fact (use any definition you choose) that can be proved or disproved by an objective outside observer?
YOUR ANSWER IS NO

2. If it does, what are they - formulate them. If it does not, any claim that the torah is true is mere opinion, but tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as I've seen on some bumper stickers.

SO ACCORDING TO THE SECOND STATEMENT -your evidence is based on pure subjective opinion * tautological, devoid of content- -an empty assertion, sort of like "Jesus is God, read the bible," as
I've seen on some bumper stickers.*

If this is correct then there is really no reason to continue a dialogue.



In any event, and for the record I will comment on a few more thing even as I contemplate the value in continuing as stated above

With regard to the Rambam’s claim of chain of messorah, I have no more confidence in this claim then I do in the chain of tradition that exists in the Hindu Vedas that also has record of numerous metaphysical events and witnesses to the events over 5,000 years ago. In fact many skeptical Hindus cite the Exodus myth as evidence that millions of people can be fooled. If you are interested in the chain of tradition I would like you please read section 7.
Tradition -- is it reliable? at
http://talkreason.com/articles/letter1.cfm#tradition and if you are really serious about seeking the truth and havve the time I would recomend that you read http://talkreason.com/articles/kuzari.cfm.

At the end of the day I had a feeling you would evade a real response by retreating to metaphysical speculation in a way that is very consistent with the fundamentalist ideologues in Christianity,
Islam, and Hindu traditions.

With regard to the flood, however, Modern Orthodox scholar Marc Shapiro has a great quote that is apropos. I want you to really reflect on what he is saying. He writes “To believe that the entire
world was destroyed some four thousand years ago and that we and all the animals are descended from Noah and those in his ark (similarly to believe that we are all descended from a first man named Adam who lived 5000 years ago) is not merely to dispute a certain historical fact, or to deny the existence of say Alexander, Caesar or George Washington. On the contrary, it is this and much more. One who believes in the flood story literally (or in the five thousand year history of the world) rejects the entire historical
enterprise. He denies history itself and places himself outside of time. It is pointless to even discuss, never mind argue; with someone who adopts this view since there can be no point of reference between the fundamentalist and the historically minded. Indeed, it makes no sense for the fundamentalist to even attempt to show the historical veracity of what he believes, since as I said above, his very position is a rejection of the validity of all historical meaning. As such any discussion is pointless.”


All the best,
KAN

Part 7: Shifting the focus again using Kiruv apologetics and more pseudo philosophical word play.


from Beyond BT -----

KAN

If you don't really want to *understand* a perspective that's different then yours, that's fine and I would agree that it does male sense to continue.I'll try to lay it out one more time.

There are different ways a person can know something. If you are interested in learning about philosophy of knowledge, start with Descarteshttp://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/

Here a relevant quote from Descartes:
I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Does it now follow that I too do not exist? No: if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. In that case I too undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something. So after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that this proposition, *I am*, *I exist*, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.

This is a knowledge that is independent of any outside verification. I person knows that he exists. In Torah philopsophy this type of knowledge is known as Daas. The absolute (ie spiritually center) knowledge of G-d falls into the same realm, just as we absolutely know we exist, we can absolutely know G-d exists. I don't expect you to accept or take the time to understand this point of view, I'm just laying it out for you.

The second type of knowledge in Torah comes from the Mesorah. Despite what the heligah "Talk Reason" says, the Mesorah is a reliable method of transmission. You can make any claim you want, but to those who have really spent some serious time learning, there is no doubt about the overall reliability of the transmission of the fact that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish People at Mount Sinai. Again I don't expect you to accept this.

The third type of knowledge is in the realm of philosophical and physical evidence based knowledge. For this I will refer you to the works of Tatz, Keleman, Schiller, Arachin and http://www.nerleelef.com/ who lay out the strong case for the evidence in this realm. I understand you are dealing with Talk Reason's evidence which you feel "proves" the opposite. But at the end of the day the evidence points me to a G-d given Torah over a man made Torah.

These three ways of knowing something make it clear to me that G-d gave man the Torah. Aristotle, and others who are know to have been a pretty smart guys, did not see it that way, and many of the Baalei Mussar deal with this issue.

Thanks for taking the time to have this discussion. Please resist the urge to end it with insults.

Be Well
BeyondBT

*******************************************************
From KAN wrote:

>>>If you don't really want to *understand* a perspective that's different then yours, that's fine and I would agree that it does male sense to continue. I'll try to lay it out one more time>>>

BeyondBT,
How would you know if *I do not want to understand* Sounds pretty presumptuous if you ask me. Negative mind reading like this is just a more subtle way of insulting – but that’s okay I do not take it personally. But again this kind of comment brings us to the heart of the issue, which I insist that you answer before we continue. IS THERE A POSSIBILITY THAT YOU MIGHT BE WRONG IN HAVING ACCEPTING THE PARTY LINE, which you cite below, and which I am intimately familiar having spent a number of years in a few different yeshivas?

I am very familiar with *your perspective* I know all about daas, the messorah, etc, etc, I studied these for years in a few Yeshivas and I have read close to 200 works of machshava. The question is -- have you studied the other side with the same intensity that I have studied Torah? It would be enough if you read a few dozens books and essays that present a different perspective. Would you do this? I doubt it, but maybe I am selling you short. I hope I have and that you would be open minded enough to engage the other side. Maybe you do not want to understand the other point of view.

In any event I do not find your perspective to be the slightest bit compelling, having studied them in depth as already stated. This perspective is not considered compelling to anyone outside of frum indoctrination. I have even spoken with Frum heavyweights personally, respected Talmid a Chachamim with strong secular education (a few with phd’s in science), and they do not hold by these types of pseudo philosophical approaches that you are promoting. One said point blank that these kinds of ideas, even though they are full of logical holes, are necessary to keep the ignorant masses frum. In short they fully acknowledge that they can be debunked very easily. I do not have time to do this in emails, but I can point you in the direction of material that does this IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW.

So I have demonstrated a willingness to study both sides and accept that I could be wrong. There is not one thing that you mention that I have not studied in depth and that I am not intimately familiar with, including ALL the works of Tatz, Keleman, Schiller, Arachin Kelman. None of them engage in honest and rigorous scholarship from any perspective other then from fundamentalist cheredi perspective. Kellman, in particular has no background in scholarship and his work is an intellectually dishonest piece of propaganda where he selectively and dishonestly quotes sources out of context and ignores massive amounts of disconfirming evidence. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER SIDE PLEASE READ THESE TWO CTIIQUES OF KELLMAN http://talkreason.com/articles/kellemen.cfm
AND http://talkreason.com/articles/kelemen1.cfm . Will you read these essays?

In summary
1)I have read and studied in depth everything you mention. They are unconvincing to anyone but the indoctrinated. This is not an insult. It is a fact. Maybe it’s a good thing and this is the only way to understand the *truth.* Be that as it may. Who knows?

2) It appears (not certain) that you DO NOT want to understand the other side. Is this true? If not would you please read the works I have cited in the last two emails, especially the Kellman critique. If you will not, is it safe to assume that you are NOT INTERESTED in being open minded and that furthermore that it is a forgone conclusion that you do not accept the responsibility that you may be wrong. PLEASE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. PLEASE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. PLEASE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS.

Thanks for taking the time and as I stated, in all fairness, please resist the urge to negative mind read.

All the best,
KAN

**********************************************************
Part 8: Obfuscation and obscurantism continues, and extends to the Rabbi of BeyondBT’s

From: Beyond BT [mailto: beyondbt@gmail.com]
KAN

I'm curious, when you say the work pseudo-philosophical, are you dismissing all of philosophy or are you claiming that philosophers have never made these arguments for the existence of G-d?

If you also have articles that absolutely disprove, Tatz, Keleman, Schiller, Gottleib and all the Arachin material, I'd like to see it. I really do like to read this stuff.

I gave the "Gospel", the Letter to My Rabbi Talk Reason article to my Rav today and in just glancing at the introduction and the conclusion he stated that the writer had no real understanding of Torah. He's going to go through the other sections. I didn't ask him to make any promises of whether he would give up Torah before he read it. Is that ok with you?

I have read the first Talk Reason anti-Kellerman article previously and I just reviewed it. I'm assuming you're joking when you say this is one of the foundations of you're emunah. The author deliberately takes and twists Kellerman's arguments. His goal and methods show that he is in know way interesting in examining the evidence that Kellerman is presenting. In the online world they call this Fisking. (If you want a laugh, and I really mean that as a friend see http://www.textism.com/article/589/) One quick example, the author of the Talk Reason article does not seem to understand that "The Cosmological Approach to God's Existence." is a philosophical argument and not a scientific one. .

Seriously KAN, please tell me you're joking when you say that the Talk Reason site is the foundation of your lack of Emunah.

The Arachim and other material has been effective in convincing people of the existence of G-d and Torah. On what basis do you make the statement that it has not? Have you surveyed all the people who have been exposed to the material? Do you have access to their records and there follow up questionaires? Just curious.


Be Well

**************************************************************************
From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT:"I'm curious, when you say the work pseudo-philosophical, are you dismissing all of philosophy"

No, I am not dismissing philosophy, something which I have studied in depth at College. I am dismissing your pseudo intellectual understanding and misuse of philosophy in which you crudely try to artificially retrofit certain philosophical ideas to conform to your ideology. Why stop at Decart (something that is not relevant to the type of issues we are dealing with). You should thoroughly read Hume, Kant’s critique of pure reason and many other philosophical works in the original and then get back to me..

BeyondBT:"you claiming that philosophers have never made these arguments for the existence of G-d"

I already believe in G,d so how does quoting philosophical proof for G,d have any relevance to the truth of torah. I already said G,d and the soul exists for millions of people who do not believe in the divinity of Torah. Also all those who are well read in Philosophy know that the medieval proofs for G,d have already been largely dismissed. But this is not really the issue. My personal belief in G,d is similar to what you would call Daas –which is as you state beyond logic and reason. So there is no reason to try to go back to some kind of first principles to prove your case in Torah. I find most fundamentalist do not grasp this fact. In their mind it’s black and white and simplistic; either you believe in the Torah as understood by the Orthodox World or you are an atheist. You do not sound like you are that unsophisticated. I think you can probably appreciate that life is a multi -textured reality, full of subtlety and depth. At least I hope you can


BeyondBT:"I gave the "Gospel", the Letter to My Rabbi Talk Reason article to my Rav today and in just glancing at the introduction and the conclusion he stated that the writer had no real understanding of Torah. He's going to go through the other sections. I didn't ask him to make any promises of whether he would give up Torah before he read it. Is that ok with you?"

I would like your Rabbi to put his money where his mouth is and openly write to Zeligman on his web cite. He should detail why Zeligman has no understanding of Torah and point out where his arguments are flawed. I am not throwing taunts or provocative challenges to your Rav. I would sincerely like to know in a substantive way how Zeligman falls short and the best way I will be able to understand this is to see your Rav critique the work (even if a small section) and then see Zeligman’s response. This way I can evaluate both sides of the issue and discern who has the most compelling arguments. In fact, if you Rav is able to write a cogent critique that withstands Zeligman’s response, I will personally visit both you and your Rav and thank both of you for bringing me back to Judaism. I mean this. I really do. I am not being flippant. I have been trying for years to find a Rav who cares enough to respond to these kinds of works in mature and scholarly way. Kal Ha Kovod if you are successful at this.

BeyondBT:"Rav today and in just glancing at the introduction and the conclusion he stated that the writer had no real understanding of Torah.

Sounds kind of premature for him to say this; I hope it is not an indication of deep and entrenched bias.

BeyondBT:"I have read the first Talk Reason anti-Kellerman article previously and I just reviewed it. I'm assuming you're joking when you say this is one of the foundations of you're emunah.

Emunah in what. This has nothing to do with emunah what so ever. It is one of the many articles that debunks Kelleramn and shows him to be a charlatan. I am sorry that you do not see this.

BeyondBT:"The author deliberately takes and twists Kellerman's arguments.

The pot calling the kettle black.

BeyondBT:"His goal and methods show that he is in know way interesting in examining the evidence that Kellerman is presenting.

No you are in no way interested in giving up your preconceived notion that you are already in possession of the truth. I am going to ask you the ,g,d knows how manyth time. Do you concede you can be wrong?

BeyondBT:"One quick example, the author of the Talk Reason article does not seem to understand that "The Cosmological Approach to God's Existence." is a philosophical argument and not a scientific one.

Why don’t you write to the author and explain to him how he is misinterpreting.

BeyondBT:"Seriously KAN, please tell me you're joking when you say that the Talk Reason site is the foundation of your lack of Emunah.

Look at the way you try to dismiss things by reformulating them into a backward insult Give me a break. This is really immature. Unfortunately, I have encountered these kind of flippant indirect attempts to discredit me by other fundamentalist. Again, I don’t take it personally, but you should really introspect about where you are coming from.

My lack of belief in the Cheredi version of torah is not based on talk reason. It comes from having studied religion and Near Eastern studies from some of the worlds top scholars, some of who are frum. It also comes from having read about 100 to 150 books by other scholars from all backgrounds. Have you even done 1/100 of the work I have done? I offer Talk Reason because I am realistic that it would not be possible for you to read all the works that are necessary to have enough sophistication to really understand the issues. Not everything in the Talk Reason articles is correct and many of the points made I am in disagreement about, but the core details cast doubt on Orthodox ideology. I wish I could hold your hand and walk you through what are the salient points and what are no, but I do not have time and furthermore I was hoping you could do that yourself.


Really BeyondBT please tell me you're joking when you say that the works such as Kelleramn is the foundation of your Emunah.

BeyondBT:"If you also have articles that absolutely disprove, Tatz, Keleman, Schiller, Gottleib and all the Arachin material, I'd like to see it. I really do like to read this stuff.

G,d BeyondBT, Why didn’t you tell me this from the beginning. Thank you!

There are hundred more. I really do not have time to dig them out today, but if you are interested in truth I can try to compile a list when I have time. As stated earlier none of these cites can in any way replace thorough research, preferably at the University level or in the alternative I can list dozens of scholarly works in history, comparative religion and science that will provide you with the sophistication to engage the issues in a critical way. Those who are not grounded in this way are subject to all sorts of pseudo philosophical and scientific ideas that would be laughed at by any one with sound critical thinking skills and a good education in science and history, let alone members of the scholarly community.


Kelleman
http://talkreason.com/articles/kellemen.cfm
http://talkreason.com/articles/kelemen1.cfm


Gottlieb
For a short version see http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.jewish.moderated/msg/bb62c3337f51c812
http://talkreason.com/articles/kuzari.cfm
http://talkreason.com/articles/kuzariflaws.cfm
http://talkreason.com/articles/gottlieb.cfm
http://talkreason.com/articles/Rubin_Gottl.cfm
http://extremegh.blogspot.com/2007/01/lame-fundamentalist-arguments.htmlhttp://ulag.net/papers/kuzariflaws.php
http://orthoprax.blogspot.com/2007/05/going-after-rabbi-gottlieb.html
http://orthoprax.blogspot.com/2007/07/aztecs-national-revelation-ii.html


You should probably read the following books by well know scholars
1. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (Paperback)
by Neil Asher Silberman (Author), Israel Finkelstein
http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136/ref=pd_bbs_sr_4/102-7669205-2548134?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183990927&sr=8-4

2. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel (Paperback)
by William G. Dever
http://www.amazon.com/What-Biblical-Writers-Know-When/dp/080282126X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/102-7669205-2548134?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183990989&sr=1-2

3For a more traditional understanding but still scholarly
Understanding Genesis (The Heritage of Biblical Israel) (Paperback)
by Nahum M. Sarna
http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Genesis-Heritage-Biblical-Israel/dp/0805202536/ref=sr_1_4/102-7669205-2548134?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183991025&sr=1-4

KAN

********************************************************
From: Beyond BT [mailto: beyondbt@gmail.com]

KAN

Thanks for taking the time to put together the references.

I'm still not clear where you stand on philosophical approaches. It sounds like your saying you accept philosophical approaches to belief in G_d, but not to belief in Torah. Is that because you think that a philosophical case can not be made for belief in Torah or that the philosophical approaches you've read didn't convince you? If the philosophical approaches to belief in Torah didn't convince you, can you please reference those. Thanks.

I don't base my knowledge of G-d on Kellerman's book and they are not my personal favorites. I do like Rabbi Mayer Schiller's book and Rabbi Tatz' material. Have you read Rabbi Schiller's The Road Back? Have you listened to Rabbi Tatz' 8 part tape series on Emunah? He goes through belief in G-d and Torah. Have you read "Letters to a Buddhist Jew".

I'm glad that your primary source is not Talk Reason and that you see that there are problems with their presentations.

My Rav would spend the time if he felt it would have a purpose. My read from the Letter to My Rabbi article is that there is nothing that would convince the writer that he is wrong based on the style and tone. That goes double for the anti-Kellerman writer which is why I would not personally write to him.

I do however think somebody should take the time to rebut the Letter to My Rabbi article and I am working on trying to get somebody to do it.

Be Well

**********************************************************
From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT

BeyondBT:"It sounds like your saying you accept philosophical approaches to belief in G_d

I do not really accept that philosophical arguments PROVE the existence of G,d. Augments based on inductive or deductive logic or any other kind of philosophical speculation are interesting, but not conclusive. Also from a scientific point of view, which is far different from philosophical speculation on the issue, it would be unwise to look for evidence of G,d because G,d is by definition beyond the physical realm. In other words, his transcendent nature can not be quantified in any scientific sense and you know as well as me that skeptics who look for proof in this sort of way are unwise. I do not think they are unwise for not believing in G,d - - agnosticism is to some extent understandable - - but they are unwise for thinking that G,d can some how be discovered through the scientific method. I guess the closest you can get to scientific evidence (and it is only marginally scientific because the evidence is in the form of anecdotes) would be accounts of Near Death experiences. But these kind of things do not prove G,d. They at most suggest, perhaps strongly, that a transcendent realm exists.

BeyondBT:"Is that because you think that a philosophical case can not be made for belief in Torah

NOT on pure philosophical grounds. It would have to be combined with an approach that takes into consideration the massive evidence on the ground that contradicts many areas of the Torah. You seem to inconveniently ignore the import of these things either by improperly invoking metaphysical reality when metaphysical reality has nothing to do with the specific issue under discussion or by improperly dismissing physical evidence without real and serious consideration. As I stated in an earlier letter, the absence of evidence does not bother me as much as the massive contradictory evidence.

BeyondBT:"or that the philosophical approaches you've read didn't convince you?

This is for sure. Having read philosophical approaches from every major religion, I must say that the typical Jewish approaches, the fundamentalist version, are no different and just as unconvincing as the others fundamentalist versions. Non fundamentalists who have the humility and the wisdom to accept uncertainty are far more compelling, although not conclusive. With respect to the fundamentalist Cheredi version, we may have to agree to respectfully disagree.

BeyondBT:"If the philosophical approaches to belief in Torah didn't convince you, can you please reference those. Thanks.

I don't remember every single one off the top of my head but any variation of the Kuzari argument is problematic. This seems to be the major argument. No only is the approach full of logical flaws, it is dishonestly used to then ignore all other substantive issues (contradictory evidence) that ironically contribute toward demonstrating how untenable the argument is to begin with. In another words it is a convenient way to avoid responsibility for dealing with the real issues that call into question the veracity of the Torah as a book from G,d

BeyondBT:"I do like Rabbi Mayer Schiller's book…. Have you read Rabbi Schiller's The Road Back?"

I read him over twenty years ago and am very close to people who are close with him. The book is interesting but it does not prove Torah. Many of his ideas would be ripped apart by sophisticated frum and nonfrum scholars. But I do not have time to really get into this.

BeyondBT:"Rabbi Tatz' material. Have you listened to Rabbi Tatz' 8 part tape series on Emunah? He goes through belief in G-d and Torah. Have you read "Letters to a Buddhist Jew".

Not only have I read all of Tatz's books, I have listened to every single one of his 100+ tapes. He is a brilliant and a fascinating writer / lecturer but he operates within a Rabbinic framework that is different from Gottlieb and similar types. In this way, he does not so much prove torah as he makes an exciting presentation, based on fascinating machshavas and selective use of outside evidence. But if one really has an appreciation for the big picture, Tatz's approach, although interesting and at times compelling, is far far from any proof of the divinity of Torah. He does not touch on any of the real issues that undermine the historicity of torah. He just does not deal with that and when he does he is often wrong about fundamentals of his subject. I don't complete blame him. You can't be an expert in everything.

An example of this would be tape on the age of the universe where his science is all wrong. Although he is a doctor, he is not a physicist or a chemist and to be frank I was quite surprised that that particular lecture heavily drew on Christian creationist approaches to scientific challenges. I was actually listening to the tape with a Cheredi Frum physicist, who was astounded at the straw man type arguments that Tatz use, that Gottlieb also uses –like his discussion of constants like radioactive decay, etc. I give him the benefit of the doubt here –He is a busy Guy.

Another example is in his book "living inspired" where one of his sentences is in error about neuroscience. If you want to know the sentence I will be happy to get it for from my Frum Neuroscientist friend. The point is he can be sloppy when discussing issues outside the rabbinic tradition.

So at a certain point I was motivated by Tatz, but over time, and for reasons that I truly do not have time to elaborate on (I have already missed way to much work –I need to take a break for a few days and catch up –continue later) I no longer find Tatz convincing. He is persuasive only to neophytes and those already accepting of Orthodox dogma, really only within a particular framework. But over all I think his approach has far more integrity then people like Gottlieb (who I consider to be incredibly intellectually dishonest - -I know him personally and have listened to every one of his tapes) and institutions like Aish Hatorah.

BeyondBT:"My Rav would spend the time if he felt it would have a purpose. My read from the Letter to My Rabbi article is that there is nothing that would convince the writer that he is wrong based on the style and tone. That goes double for the anti-Kellerman writer which is why I would not personally write to him."

This is an excuse and it sounds like you are imputing to the authors a state of mind that you yourself have. I am now assuming, since you have never answered me, that "NOTHING WOULD CONVINCE YOU AND YOUR RAV THAT YOU ARE WRONG. Your tone reflects this. I think it is furthermore the height of hypocrisy and it reflects poorly on you character and integrity as YOU HAVE YET TO ACKNOWLEGE THAT YOU YOURSELF COULD BE WRONG. Am I now to believe that you been lying to me the entire correspondence about your implicit acceptance of corresponding in a spirit of openness, integrity and humility. ARE YOU AND YOUR RAV EVEN FOR A SECOND WILLING TO ACKNOWLEGE THAT YOU MAY BE WRONG?
Bye the way and most importantly, you are not writing to convince the authors of talk reason. Instead your Rav would be doing this to help Jewish souls such as I make an informed decision about truth.
I hate to say this , but your rav's response is most cowardly. This is a real shame. I am left wondering if he is afraid that he can not defend his Judaism against someone with more compelling arguments. For if he was confident, he would engage the man instead of deceitfully hiding behind unsubstantiated claims about the writer's state of mind.

Please consider everything I have written and forward the email to you RAv.
All the best
KAN

Pa

*************************************************************
Part 9: BeyondBT never answers one question and ignores ALL evidence

From: Beyond BT [mailto: beyondbt@gmail.com]

KAN
Again, thanks for your time on this. Just one more quick question.

> As I stated in an earlier letter, the absence of evidence does not bother me as much as the massive contradictory evidence.>

Could you possible point me to some of this massive contradictory evidence. Which articles or points on the Talk Reason site do you consider massively contradictory?

Which of the books that you referenced do you believe are most compelling in terms of the massive contradictory evidence that supports your beliefs?

Be Well
*********************************************************
From KAN wrote:

BeyondBT,

BeyondBT:"As I stated in an earlier letter, the absence of evidence does not bother me as much as the massive contradictory evidence.
Could you possible point me to some of this massive contradictory evidence. Which articles or points on the Talk Reason site do you consider massively contradictory"


There are many things in Torah (numerous historical anachronism, like Canaanites during the time of Abraham, etc, etc,) and the oral tradition (like the Seder Olam chronology of Persia) that are contradicted by an enormous amount of evidence but the biggest and most significant contradiction is the FLOOD. The sources come from every major discipline and are not in one place. Nonetheless I present a brief summary below:

Egyptian and Assyrian history has an unbroken chain of monarchies and civilizations from 3000 BCE to the present, with no room for a flood that supposedly destroyed all life in the Near East (or, at a minimum, in Mesopotamia) c. 2105 BCE, the date derived from the Torah chronology. There is no mention of the Flood in these records of Egyptian or Mesopotamian civilizations which existed at the time and the physical evidence (e.g., inscriptions, among many other items) is staggering. There is no longer any room for doubt by any serious scholar. Even Modern Orthodox Jewish scholars agree. The geological and genetic evidence (no genetic evidence that we descend from the 5 survivors), which is the most compelling on the issue, is also in agreement. See http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html#georecord. Please start at section 5 as I do not believe the prior sections are relevant from a messorah point of view.

Remember that the entire period is accounted for in tremendous detail, supported by over one million artifacts and the evidence for continuous, large-scale civilization in Mesopotamia and Egypt is "harder" evidence than our chain of tradition. There is no way that the descendents of Noach could have repopulated Egypt 200 years after a universally-fatal flood and restarted the culture, language, writing system, religion, etc. The very idea is absurd.

Rest assured that scholars in this area are "at each other's throats," and are quick to find flaws in, and attack, each other's theories. Nevertheless, there is universal consensus as to what was NOT happening c. 2105 BCE, viz., "the Flood." In summary, the idea that there was a massive flood that destroyed civilization in Mesopotamia and/or Egypt c. 2105 BCE is universally considered absurd.

Also, the Exodus also has no extra-biblical corroboration. No scholar believes that an Exodus occurred as described in the Torah. NONE. Even FRUM (he is one of the few-most stop being frum during the process of their education specifically because of the evidence) Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Lawrence Shiffman, when interviewed by the Biblical Archaeology Review acknowledges that Shemos isn't 100% true: He states "I happen to believe there was some kind of Exodus." Some kind of Exodus?

The lack of evidence calls into question the Biblical account, but it is not as overwhelming as the flood and I can probably live with the lack of proof. Another issue is the existence of modern man over ten thousand years before Adam even existed. Who were these men? They made beautiful cave paintings and had elaborate religious ceremonies, including burial. There are so many issues. I would need to take a few weeks of work to write them down. If you were familiar with all the scholarship it would be much easier to have this discussion. I think the problem is that Frum people are indoctrinated with a very strong presumption that they have the truth and therefore they do not bother to engage in a sincere and genuine search for truth. Most are unfortunately quite ignorant and consequently do not have the vaguest idea of the issues.

BeyondBT:"Which of the books that you referenced do you believe are most compelling in terms of the massive contradictory evidence that supports your beliefs?"

I wish it was so simple. I don't base my current understanding of reality on any one book. I am not trying to evade the question as the issues are unfortunately not captured in any one particular work. Instead they emanate from dozens of books that span issues of comparative religion, as well as ancient NearEastern and Persian history. The issues also implicate the basics of all the scientific disciplines. That's why I recommend "letter to my Rabbi," not because he is correct on every issue (although he is very compelling on the key issues) and every nuance, but because he frames the issues in an organized way. It’s just a starting point to go much much deeper. That's why a debate on some of the key issues (doesn't have to be all-that would be way too onerous) between your Rav or some other Rav and the author of the letter would allow seekers to evaluate both sides. After all, honest people would prefer to weigh both sides together then too read them separately where the points addressed may be incongruous.

Best wishes and sorry to inundate you with so much information. I just think there is no other way.
KAN

************************************************************
From: Beyond BT [mailto: beyondbt@gmail.com]

KAN

Besides the lack of physical evidence of the miraculous account of the flood on the Torah, what in the Talk Reason article do you think is included in the massively contradictory evidence.

Unfortunately I don't have time to become a multi-discipline scholar like yourself, and it seems that your saying that only multi-disciplined experts like yourself caliber will really be able to see the evidence that the Torah was not written by G-d.

Again if you can point me to which items in the Letter to the Rabbi article, beside the flood miracle, contribute to the massively contradictory evidence it would be great and I will spend some serious time looking into those points

Be Well

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From KAN wrote:

Beyond BT

What do you mean by the flood miracle? Are you suggesting that God deliberately planted fake evidence and creating all sorts of bizarre miracles to conceal the global flood. I guess this takes care of all the evidence in n instant, and would seem to be the perfect solution? The problem is its just plain silly to think that way, and nobody would ever suggest such a thing if it wasn’t for having their back up against the wall. Why would G-d make it look like the Mabul never happened?

Prior to your comment I would have thought I needed someone to address the massive Physical evidence against the flood. Now I also need the issue addressed from a theological and textual perspective in addition to a scientific perspective.

The flood is a crucial issue, but if you do not have the requisite background and want to stick with issues in Talk Reason article by Zeligman, part of which is the flood, please have someone critique, in a scholarly way (please, not with cheap, dishonest, and shallow apologetics) the sections that I highlight below. I would say sections three and four are related to physical evidence and section seven, although also related to some physical and historical evidence, is more of a critique to Kuzari style philosophical arguments. So if you just focus on section 4 that may be sufficient, at least for now. Again I would like to see how Zeligman responds to counter arguments. I say this because, and no offense here, I can not trust a person who refuses to concede that he may not be wrong.

3. Outreach arguments
4. The Written Torah
7. The Written TorahTradition -- is it reliable?

Most of the information that I have researched does not come from Talk Reason. I did not even know the site existed until about 10 months ago when I bumped into a fellow Machon Shlomo Alum. He told me about the site and a few other sites when we were discussing the difficulties with coming to terms with aspects of frumkeit that do not seem to be consistent with the evidence. Unlike me, he doesn’t really seem to give it as much thought because he is to busy to go deeper but he mentioned yet another Alum who told him about this and other sites who has really been thrown for a loop. It’s really a shame and I often wonder why no one in the Kiruv establishment bothers to challenge these works head on, in an intellectually honest and rigorous way. It leaves the impression that the Frum world doesn’t respond because it can’t, that it just does not have the answers or that they are fearful that their response will bring attention to the sites which they are not capable of successfully rebutting.
Best wishes,
KAN

Beyondbt contradicts his own methodology in order to mislead; ascribes validity to evidence that was previously rejected in order to support his own views. Unfortunately, for beyondbt, the evidence supports the flood as an ancient Near Eastern Myth, not a true historical event.
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From Beyond BT < beyondbt@gmail.com > wrote:
KAN,

On what basis do you reject the scientists who believe there is *evidence* of a flood.
http://archives.cnn.com/2000/NATURE/09/13/great.flood.finds.ap/index.html
http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2000/april/phenom_apr00.php
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/21/tech/main564233.shtml

As I'm sure you know, there is much more "evidence" of the flood. As you noted previously, rock solid evidence from an event over 3500 years is hard to come by. But here you seem to be focused on the lack of evidence as opposed to the massively contradictory evidence that you cited previously as you main basis of your beliefs.

I also wanted to mention that I know Dr Lawrence Shiffman for over 20 years. He happened to be in my shul, the Shabbos after his views were mangled in the blogosphere based on the one liner you quoted in the biblical review article. He was quite upset at the misrepresentation of his views. I'm a little surprised someone such as yourself would pass such bogus information off as evidence of any sort.

I can't find anything in the Talk Reason article would be consider massively contradictory evidence, its just a collection of hypothesis, many based on misunderstandings of Torah and selective acceptance of historical evidence. Looking at the article closer, I can now see why no serious person has bothered to take the time to refute it.

I also looked up the books you mentioned, particularly Finkelsteins. There is no massive contradictory evidence in any of them, just theories by archealogists/authors, which other archaelogists disagree with, often strongly.

At the end of the day, you haven't pointed to any massively contradictory evidence. What you consider massively contradictory, other real scientists wave off as far fetched theory. I have to admit, I am a little disappointed.

Thanks again for your time.

Be Well

*************************************************************From KAN wrote:
BeyondBT:"On what basis do you reject the scientists who believe there is *evidence* of a flood.
http://archives.cnn.com/2000/NATURE/09/13/great.flood.finds.ap/index.html
http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2000/april/phenom_apr00.php
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/21/tech/main564233.shtml"


Every single of those articles do not lend any support for the global flood described in the Torah in 2100 BCE. What does “Sediment layers suggest that 7,500 years ago Mediterranean water roared into the Black Sea” have to do with the flood of Torah. The torah says that 4,000 years ago, there was a global flood that destroyed all life. Show me one statement in all three articles that demonstrate this. I REPEAT NO ONE BELIEVES IN THE GLOBAL FLOOD 2100 BCE, except A FUNDAMENTAILIST – NO ONE. The flood discussed in the articles is about a local flood in the black sea 3,000 years before the Torah says so.

So why do the articles make mention of Noah’s ark? Well, if you had any education in ancient near eastern history, you would realize that the scientist and historians find it noteworthy because it provides insight into why that region of the world has so many flood myths. If anything this lends weight that the Torah account IS A MYTH not and actual event.

You FAILED TO READ and furthermore you also appear very foolish. You should really be ashamed, because of your lack of critical thought, as well as because such lack of thinking was motivated by your deep and entrenched desire to defend (not seek truth) your already preconceived version of truth. I guess you will go through any length to protect yourself from the cognitive dissonance that emanates from grappling with these issues. This is another one of your many acts of intellectual dishonesty - - the greatest of which is your refusal to even concede that you could be wrong, all the while having the audacity to accuse others of close mindedness.

If you are engaged in Kiruv with this attitude, I have no problem labeling you as a liar and deceiver. I am not insulting here, I am telling you like it is just like I would tell a thief he is a thief. If you don’t want to be a liar or deceived, please disclose to others that Nothing can change your mind. Nothing --no matter what. If you do this in the future I will gladly retract my comment. This lack of intellectually honesty is unbelievably disappointing.

BeyondBT:"I also wanted to mention that I know Dr Lawrence Shiffman for over 20 years. He happened to be in my shul, the Shabbos after his views were mangled in the blogosphere based on the one liner you quoted in the biblical review article. He was quite upset at the misrepresentation of his views. I'm a little surprised someone such as yourself would pass such bogus information off as evidence of any sort.

I did not read this on the blogosphere. I am a subscriber to the magazine in which he was interviewed. I have no idea what other bloggers said, nor do I care. As for Shiffman, I read the whole context and it was quite clear what he said. You are na├»ve if you think that he does not put on one face within the scholarly community and another face to the Frum world. You know full well that he would be demonized in the FRUM WORLD if he made known his true views. I challenge Shiffman to write a letter to William Dever (and he is a maximalist) and other reputable archeologists and say that he believes there is supporting evidence for all the details of the Torah’s Exodus and furthermore I want him to also say that he has no doubt that there was a global flood as described in the Torah. Better yet I want him to publish this in the Biblical Archaeology Review. I GUARANTEE YOU HE WILL NOT DO THIS!!!!I he does not have the courage (or really the stupidity) to make these statements in front of the worlds best scholars because he knows he can not back this up. He would be the laughing stock of the scholarly community. Better yet - ask Shiffman to respond to Zeligman and defend the Cheredi view. AGAIN, HE WILL NOT DO THIS.

BeyondBT:"I can't find anything in the Talk Reason article would be consider massively contradictory evidence, its just a collection of hypothesis, many based on misunderstandings of Torah and selective acceptance of historical evidence. Looking at the article closer, I can now see why no serious person has bothered to take the time to refute it.
I also looked up the books you mentioned, particularly Finkelsteins. There is no massive contradictory evidence in any of them, just theories by archealogists/authors, which other archaeologists disagree with, often strongly."



What a foolish and intellectually dishonest way to dismiss this evidence. I guess you are now off the hook. You have dismissed all the evidence with the wave of a hand without having read one book. You not only have no idea what you are dismissing but you seem to have no idea about the little I had written about the historical process, especially the fact that although scholars can be at each others throats about the details, most agree on the broad outlines of historical events. YOU HAVE NEVER EVEN STUDIED THE ISSUES. If I behaved like this on my job I would be fired on the spot, so would anyone else with any type of responsibility. Why would you act in a way in one area of your life that would clearly be beyond the pale in any other area? Truly amazing!

BeyondBT:".At the end of the day, you haven't pointed to any massively contradictory evidence. What you consider massively contradictory, other real scientists wave off as far fetched theory"

Really - - find me one credible mainstream scientist or historian who believes in the Flood as described in the torah. There are many other issues that contradict the torah account that EVERY scholar agrees with (like Bavel,etc). You have not rebutted one issue other then to say you have. Saying something is not so does not make it so. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AT ALL.

I have to admit; I am VERY disappointed, especially because I took so much time out the week to provide the kind of helpful detail that you have just ignored.

Be Well
KAN