Rabbi falsely calls Dawkins anti Semite.
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27-01-2016, 07:44 AM
RE: Rabbi falsely calls Dawkins anti Semite.
(27-01-2016 07:31 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(26-01-2016 11:07 PM)Aliza Wrote:  Archeological evidence doesn't take the Talmudic descriptions of the story of Exodus into account, so the evidence does not properly address Jewish objections.

That is a very odd statement. Consider Evidence is evidence. Present the evidence to support whatever these Talmudic descriptions are. Without evidence for them, they can be summarily dismissed.

Quote:My own rabbi holds a master’s degree from MIT. Other Rabbinic scholars who I learn from carry various degrees from MIT, Harvard, UCLA, Cornell, Yale, and from among other prestigious educational institutions. These are not stupid people, and the trend shows a consistent pattern of highly educated Jewish individuals who examine the evidence and arrive at a different conclusion. Something in the Talmud seems to render current archeological findings (or lack thereof) as unimpressive to the orthodox community. This is not a matter of stupidity. It is a matter of preexisting information that archeological data doesn’t happen to address.

That sounds like confirmation bias, not critical thinking.

Here is an interesting article by a rabbi.

The Rabbi who wrote the article is a Reconstructionist Jew. I'm having some difficulty in seeing how that's at all relevant to what Orthodox Jews believe.
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27-01-2016, 07:50 AM
RE: Rabbi falsely calls Dawkins anti Semite.
(27-01-2016 07:44 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(27-01-2016 07:31 AM)Chas Wrote:  That is a very odd statement. Consider Evidence is evidence. Present the evidence to support whatever these Talmudic descriptions are. Without evidence for them, they can be summarily dismissed.


That sounds like confirmation bias, not critical thinking.

Here is an interesting article by a rabbi.

The Rabbi who wrote the article is a Reconstructionist Jew. I'm having some difficulty in seeing how that's at all relevant to what Orthodox Jews believe.

He is commenting on the historicity (lack thereof) of the Exodus account.

The Orthodox Jews may believe it to be historical, but the actual evidence does not support their contention.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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27-01-2016, 07:51 AM
RE: Rabbi falsely calls Dawkins anti Semite.
(27-01-2016 07:50 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(27-01-2016 07:44 AM)Aliza Wrote:  The Rabbi who wrote the article is a Reconstructionist Jew. I'm having some difficulty in seeing how that's at all relevant to what Orthodox Jews believe.

He is commenting on the historicity (lack thereof) of the Exodus account.

The Orthodox Jews may believe it to be historical, but the actual evidence does not support their contention.

Gotcha.
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27-01-2016, 02:36 PM
RE: Rabbi falsely calls Dawkins anti Semite.
Thanks for your reply, Aliza. I respond to some of your points below.

(26-01-2016 11:07 PM)Aliza Wrote:  
(25-01-2016 02:02 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  And now a question for Aliza: Is there any consensus among Jews as to how much of the Bible is historical? Passover, for instance, is ostensibly based on real events as described in Exodus. How many Jews believe that those events actually happened? How many think that the story in Exodus is just a story to explain a tradition that arose some other way? I tend to believe the latter, but then I'm an atheist. What do the believers believe?

"Believers!" That sounds so Christian.

Yes, I suppose it does, and I realize that Judaism (and Islam as well) is more action-oriented and less belief-oriented than Christianity. Yet there are also questions of belief, and that's what I was most curious about -- what do Jews believe about the historicity of the passover, exodus, etc.? And you did address those points.

Quote:The Orthodox Jewish community makes up about 10% of the Jewish population, and they overwhelmingly believe that the story of Passover is 100% real and that it happened exactly as mentioned in the Torah, and as clarified in the Talmud.

The rest of the Jewish population may or may not follow Talmudic traditions, but you will find that the perceived authenticity of the story diminishes when the Talmud is removed from the equation. Some people in these more secular movements believe that the stories could be true, some hope they’re true but expect that they’re just fables, and others refuse to accept any such notion that these stories are to be taken literally at all.

(25-01-2016 03:31 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  Anyway, I know that there is no archeological evidence of a mass exodus from Egypt as described in Exodus, and that we would expect to find such evidence if the event had actually occurred -- and that's why I believe that this is a mythical story, written to justify a tradition that arose for other reasons.

Archeological evidence doesn't take the Talmudic descriptions of the story of Exodus into account, so the evidence does not properly address Jewish objections.

I haven't looked at the Talmud at all (and probably won't -- life is too short!), so I can't be sure what you're getting at here. The standard atheistic objection is that if half a million people (or more) spent 40 years wandering around one rather small patch of desert, they would have left some traces -- and we find no such traces. I can't be sure how the Talmud deals with this conundrum, but here's how Paul Johnson deals with it (in his A History of the Jews):

Johnson, as a Roman Catholic, cannot be expected to dismiss the historicity of the Bible completely, and he doesn't. He in fact claims that there is at least a historical basis all the way back to Noah -- that there was indeed a large flood in Mesopotamia, that Noah (and the major figures after him, like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses) were real people, or at least based on real people. However, there is a lot of "amplification" going on in these stories. So the lists of kings, etc. in Genesis are somewhat accurate, but they didn't live to be 900 years old; there was a flood, but it wasn't worldwide, and Noah didn't have two of every animal on earth aboard the ark; there was an Exodus, but it was done more for religious reasons than to escape from slavery, and it was a much smaller group of people than the Bible claims.

So if the exodus was just a small band of people, and they made it to Israel fairly quickly (not 40 years), maybe they wouldn't have left much trace. This is at least plausible. Is this the kind of reasoning that goes on in the Talmud, or is it something entirely different? If it is entirely different, can you give us a brief idea of it, or would I have to study it for years to understand it?

Quote:My own rabbi holds a master’s degree from MIT. Other Rabbinic scholars who I learn from carry various degrees from MIT, Harvard, UCLA, Cornell, Yale, and from among other prestigious educational institutions. These are not stupid people, and the trend shows a consistent pattern of highly educated Jewish individuals who examine the evidence and arrive at a different conclusion. Something in the Talmud seems to render current archeological findings (or lack thereof) as unimpressive to the orthodox community. This is not a matter of stupidity. It is a matter of preexisting information that archeological data doesn’t happen to address.

I agree that intelligence is absolutely irrelevant here. Many atheists like to pretend that they are oh-so-smart (even to the point of referring to themselves as "brights") and theists must be stupid to believe what they do. None of that for me. There are extremely intelligent people on all sides of this debate, and all of them (including atheists) are also capable of "having an agenda" -- in fact, I don't see how that can be avoided. That's one of the reasons Johnson's book interests me. As a Roman Catholic, he will necessarily relate the history of the Jews from a different point of view than either a Jew or an atheist.

Quote:
(25-01-2016 03:31 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  However, my main interest here is curiosity as to what Jews believe about their own history, and why. Jews in general, and Aliza in particular, strike me as more reasonable and less dogmatic than some Christians.

Judaism can be very dogmatic if you stumble into the wrong community. But even then, we're not dogmatic in the sense that a Christian is dogmatic. Our theology does not instruct us to spread our views to non-Jews, and we bend over backward to excuse what we perceive to be Jews who are observing the religion incorrectly. Our heritage tells us we’re all cells in the same body, so of course, you want to treat your body well.

There isn’t any such perception that non-Jews are inferior, or that anyone is going to go to hell for failing to be Jewish. Our religious mission isn’t to convert people to Judaism, it’s to try to be a shining example to other groups of people.
So there is no incentive for us to be dogmatic, and every incentive for us to work to get along with other people and just try to be a good group of community-minded people.

The reason that you see so many rational Jews is because we’re well-educated, tolerant, and we’re taught from a very young age to examine problems from multiple perspectives and to question and challenge absolutely everything. Education, intelligence, morality and success are very important cornerstones to Jewish culture. Additionally, Jewish practice places an emphasis on action, and not belief.

I have much respect and admiration for the Jewish love of learning (and books -- I too am a bibliophile), and that's one reason I want to learn more about them. This is also what attracted me to Catholicism more than other sects of Christianity (well, apart from being born and raised Catholic) -- there is an intellectual element to their theology that is missing in fundamentalist Protestantism.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to think about this and reply to my questions!
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