The Debate is On: Orthodox Rabbi vs. Ex-Hassid-Turned-Atheist

September 11, 2012 2:29 pm 121 comments

Rabbi Moshe Averick (Orthodox Rabbi) vs. Mr. Shauli Grossman (Hassid-turned-atheist)

What is the most reasonable  explanation for the Origin of Life: An Intelligent Creator or an Unguided Naturalistic Process?

This is the question that will be debated on Sunday, September 23, 2012, at the Shaarei Torah Jewish Center, 327 E. 5th St, Brooklyn, New York, at 6:00pm sharp (doors open at 5:15pm). Admission is free.

In my 4/1/12 column entitled “Dr. Phil, Shauli Grossman, Ex-Hassidim, and the True Path to Englightenment” I challenged Mr. Grossman to defend his new-chosen atheistic ideology in the intellectual arena. He promptly responded in the affirmative.

We have agreed on a very clear and defined protocol which will keep the debate focused on the one issue – Origin of Life – that is under discussion and prevent it from digressing into confusing and distracting  tangential points.

The debate is being sponsored by Brooklyn-based, B’Darchei Avoseinu (“in the footsteps of our fathers”), which is headed by Rabbi Yechiel Malik and Mr. Mutty Solomon. Hope to see all of you there.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. If you wish to be informed when new articles appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com with the email address and the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

121 Comments

  • I really need to write a book. Yes, there is a supernatural. The difficulty is that few experience it, and even fewer discuss it.

    Matter closed.

  • Creators are always 100% human, and never more than 0.0% supernatural.

  • Creators are always 100% human, and never more than 0% supernatural.

  • So, not having seen the debate, to sum it up: Steve maintains as a given premise that the supernatural cannot exist and therefore God does not exist. He fails to consider the god of Spinoza. The idea that nature itself is god. When you analyze the issues, this is the belief of the mainstream scientific community today. Blind faith that there is nothing more to reality other than what humans have experienced is borne of an irrational and self-consuming arrogance and belief in Human intelligence as the be-all and end-all in any discussion about ontological reality. To Mr. Stoddard, belief in God must be blind faith because he knows for sure that God does not and cannot exist. His blind faith in the imperviousness of human cognition as the arbiter of reality is a form of self-worship as low as the blind-faith of certain members of the theological community. Blind faith cannot be debated, so. Mr. Stoddard cannot be debated. My impression is that what is under discussion in this debate is if one is open-minded to the possibility of a creator, is that the more reasonable conclusion as to the origin of living organisms. No one in the scientific community has come up with an ultimate solution to this puzzle. Francis Crick suggested panspermia, that life came to Earth from another planet, but that just throws the question onto another planet. I think an interesting question for the Rabbi would be: If scientists demonstrated a plausible scientific explanation for the origin of life, would he stop believing in God? I have a feeling that God cannot be boiled down to a gap-filler. Abraham did not conclude God’s existence based on filling in Gaps. Acc to Maimonides, his conclusion was based on seeing complexity emerging from unity even in the non-organic properties of our universe.

    • I am open-minded to the possibility of a creator. What is your evidence that a creator is responsible for the origin of living organisms?

      • There is no possible evidence for that. You might as well ask for his evidence that circles are square.

        • Quite an illogical response. There can never be proof that if you don’t see something it means it’s not there. Rather you don’t see it. But if you see something, then obviously it is there.

          Likewise, an atheist can never prove there is no G-d (ch”v). But it can definitely be possible to prove there is a G-d.

          Seems more that you don’t want there to be a G-d rather than that you truly don’t believe He exists.

    • [][]“Blind faith that there is nothing more to reality other than what humans have experienced is borne of an irrational and self-consuming arrogance and belief in Human intelligence as the be-all and end-all in any discussion about ontological reality.”[][]

      If you wish to disqualify human intelligence from the discussion, you have certainly come up with a clever way to claim that the issue “cannot be debated”! You have thrown away your only chance.

      [][]“… fails to consider …[t]he idea that nature itself is god.”[][]

      It makes no more sense to believe that “nature is supernatural” than it does to believe that “circles are square.”

    • [][]“Blind faith that there is nothing more to reality other than what humans have experienced …”[][]

      It is not blind faith, but rather plain logic to see that there is nothing more to reality other than all the stuff that is actually real. God, being a fantasy of something supernatural, i.e., unreal, simply doesn’t qualify.

  • Hopefully, the transcript of the debate can be posted after Yom Kippur.

  • Moshe – Can you reconcile these quotes?

    Poster: The premise of your argument is that everything that is functionally complex is the result of intelligent intervention . Well, isn’t all intelligence functionally complex?

    MA: Only MATERIAL intelligence is functionally complex.

    May 6, 2012
    1:23 am

    —————-

    Poster 1: Our only experience in all of human history is that information is produced by intelligent agents.

    Poster 2: Our only experience in all of human history is that information is produced by intelligent, MATERIAL agents.

    MA: If SETI scientists received intelligible messages from another galaxy they would acknowledge their intelligence, consciousness and creative ability even though they would not have the slightest idea about who or what they were. In fact, they would not even know if they/he/it was even physical. Your distinction is ARBITRARY and SELF-SERVING (emphasis mine).

    May 5, 2012
    11:11 pm

    —————–

    So which is it? Do we distinguish between material and immaterial intelligence in order to avoid the regressive conclusion that your intelligent Creator is functionally complex and therefore, must also be created? Or is that distinction “arbitrary and self serving”?

    • [][]“Do we distinguish between material and immaterial intelligence …“[][]

      The notion of an “immaterial intelligent being” is pure bunkum. It has no reference point in reality. “The Supernatural” is nonsense.

  • Did anyone see or hear the “debate”?

  • This debate completely misses the issue.

    If I were debated Averick, I would take a totally different route. I would agree to stipulate for the purpose of argument that god exists (even though to date no one has been able to come up with a clear definition of the term let alone offer a proof to Its existence – there’s a reason why religious people resort to “faith”, not facts and reason, when dealing with god – if god’s existence can be proved, it would be a part of science, not religion) and that It created the universe and life on earth. I’ll grant all Averick’s so-called “proofs” in advance (even though, truth to be told, they make no sense at all).

    Fine.

    However, that is not the issue as far as being religious or irreligious is concerned. The only issue that matters is whether this god communicated with us mortals and revealed Its wishes/commands.

    You see, if Averick can *prove* that this god communicated with us, then he’d be killing two birds with one stone: that would be both a proof that god exists (for if It doesn’t exist, It couldn’t communicate with us) and a proof that we know what It wants from us. That would not be the end of the argument – Averick would still need to offer a compelling justification as to why we should adhere to this god’s wishes – but at least it would advance the debate in his direction.

    However, if Averick fails to prove that, and furthermore, if we can demonstrate that this alleged communication is nothing other than a nice story, one that is contradicted by a plethora of evidence, and as such, we should give it ZERO credence – then the idea that god exists and It created the universe and life on earth, is meaningless as far as our behavior is concerned. It might be an interesting fact to know, but it bears no significance on our lives. No more than the question of whether black holes exist have a bearing on our daily lives (in fact, the existence of black holes might have more bearing on our lives than the existence of this alleged god). There would be no connection at all between the idea that god exists and that you should be religious. It would mean that the entire body of religious laws, decrees, rules and regulations, are all man-made, and as such, there would be no reason to prefer them over any other man-made rules or to even follow any of them in the first place.

    If god did not communicate with us, or at the very least there is no evidence the It did, then why, for example, one would not drive his car on Shabbos, refrain from eating a juicy pork loin, or not touch his wife while she’s menstruating? This behavior would be utterly foolish. To follow those decrees one must assume that not only does god exist, but also that It has wishes and desires, and that It communicated them to us, and ordered us not to spark a fire on Shabbos, forbade us from eating pork, and demanded the laws of Niddah.

    Since, as can be easily demonstrated, the tale of the Revelation on Mount Sinai, is really nothing other than a tale, contradicted by a plethora of evidence, and there is no other event that Judaism can point to where god revealed Its commands, then Averick is wasting his breath. Let’s assume that god exists, but since we have no inkling whatsoever of what that god wants from us, the idea that It exists has no bearing on our lives and we should continue living our lives as we deem fit, not as we imagine god wants us.

    So, in short, rather debating whether god exists, the debate should revolve around whether It communicated with us and what do we do with that information.

    • Zvi,

      The debate did not miss the issue. If one is lacking clarity about the existence of Gd it makes it rather difficult to take seriously the notion of Divine revelation.

      I stipulated on the issue of evolution, not as a tactic, but because in fact, it is completely irrelevant to the question of the existence of a creator of life. Whether or not Gd exists is to say the least, very relevant to the question of Divine revelation.

      If you don’t believe in Gd Zvi, it is silly to discuss the issue of Divine revelation. The rest of what you wrote is self=evidently true and doesn’t even need to be said. Why in the world would anyone keep shabbos if they did not believe it was commanded by Gd?

      • Since there is nothing “Divine” to reveal anything, the subject matter is rather thin. It more or less boils down to something like, “My fantasies reveal more than your fantasies” sort of “silly discussion” among the believers.

      • “If one is lacking clarity about the existence of Gd it makes it rather difficult to take seriously the notion of Divine revelation.”

        Let me try differently. I assume you’re not merely trying to prove the existence of god in abstracto, as a mere concept of academic knowledge. Right? I assume you’re aiming to prove the existence of a god that has relevance and significance to our lives. Is that correct?

        If so, then the main thing that matters is whether god actually exists, not whether It designed the universe or the living world. His designing capabilities are a separate issue (and with all the flaws in nature, one cannot give god high marks on Its designing skills..). Once there’s proof for divine revelation, Its existence is known, and we need no further proof. We don’t need 100 proofs for something – one is sufficient.

        “If you don’t believe in Gd Zvi, it is silly to discuss the issue of Divine revelation.”

        The proof for divine revelation does not necessitate a prior belief in god (not sure why you seem to think it does), even though once the event is proven it also proves the existence of god. All you need to do is prove, conclusively and beyond any reasonable doubt, that a divine revelation event took place, and your case is made. If you can’t prove that, then the entire discussion of whether god exists is academic, and again, I doubt that’s what you’re aiming for.

  • Since the notion of “the supernatural” contradicts everything within the realm of human experience, that amounts to a lot of “strong facts” 100% in favor of nature, and 0% against.

    So the score is nature: everything; the supernatural: nothing.

    The notion of “the supernatural” is that it’s unnatural, unreal, unknowable, “beyond space and time,” not-of-this-world, etc. In short, the contradictory of the actual world which we do experience.

  • [][][]
    David Makowsky
    September 24, 2012
    10:23 pm
    “I did not get confused. You got caught refuting your own argument and now you are trying to twist what we both said….(I refer anyone reading this to look at what each of us have said here yourselves).”
    [][][]

    For the record (for those who don’t bother to check): I didn’t do the “twisting,” I did not “get caught,” and I did not “refute my own argument.”

    The actual record is there to check.

    And “the supernatural” isn’t there. It’s not anywhere. As the rabbi might say, in this regard, there’s nothing to check.

  • If you believe the light bulb is a miracle, you’re wrong. If you believe the origin of life was a miracle, you’re still wrong. If you believe anything is a miracle, there is no way you can be right.

    Nobody who creates, invents, produces, etc., anything is in way supernatural. In real life, “the supernatural” is not a possibility.

    In fiction, on the other hand, faith can move mountains.

  • “The principle is that reality is what it is quite regardless of what anyone knows, believes, or wishes about the world.”

    To quote David Makowsky: Thank you. You just proved my point.

    G-d exists. You offer no proof that He doesn’t. I’m glad you’re atheism’s spolesman.

    • God exists in your imagination, not in the real world.

      That’s religious faith for you. That’s what you’ve got, and that’s what you’ll have to settle for if you feel like believing in God. Why keep complaining about how not everyone shares your blind faith? Why can’t you just live with it? Why isn’t your faith enough to satisfy you?

    • You offer no proof that God doesn’t exist.

      Naturally not. It is impossible to offer any proof one way or the other for a fantasy that has no evidence of any kind relating to it in any way.

      Blind (i.e., religious) faith has no concern for proof of any sort, one way or the other. So you’re still not making any sense, Rex.

    • Rex, you and David seem to live in a fantasy world where people who disagree with you are really agreeing with you. What a triumph of religious faith!

      Might Rabbi Averick use that line on Grossman?

      • Just to set the record straight, while I do believe in G-d (with, as you would say, “Supernatural powers”) I never made an argument here in favor of that. I leave that for those more qualified to do so such as Rabbi Averick.

        However you claimed that nothing “Supernatural” could exist since it was beyond our experience. I then eventually got you to contradict yourself with your own arguument that something can be beyond our experience yet still exist:

        Steve Stoddard
        September 21, 2012
        11:55 am

        You can experience the light from a light bulb even though you have never met Thomas Edison. You can experience Hamlet even though you have never met Shakespeare. Etc.

        • [][]” I then eventually got you to contradict yourself with your own argument that something can be beyond our experience yet still exist”[][]

          I think I see where you got confused, David. You seem to be interpreting my observation that you cannot meet Edison because he died before you were born as somehow meaning that “Edison is like God,” i.e., like nothing you have ever experienced.

          But we experience other people all the time. So you have misinterpreted what I said. Edison is not like God, and God is not like Edison.

          I understood your argument to be that, since there are actual people you have never met, then the fact that you have never met God means that God could be an actual being. That argument makes no sense.

          • I did not get confused. You got caught refuting your own argument and now you are trying to twist what we both said.

            It won’t work (I refer anyone reading this to look at what each of us have said here youselves). This is also my final entry on this. Go ahead and have the last word if you want.

          • If you believe the light bulb is a miracle, you’re wrong. If you believe the origin of life was a miracle, you’re still wrong. If you believe anything is a miracle, there is no way you can be right.

            Nobody who creates, invents, produces, etc., anything is in way supernatural. In real life, “the supernatural” is not a possibility.

            In fiction, on the other hand, faith can move mountains. It can even do so in silence.

        • [][]“However you claimed that nothing “Supernatural” could exist since it was beyond our experience.”[][]

          “The Supernatural” cannot exist because it is utterly beyond the possibility of human experience. “The Supernatural” is 100% imaginary and fantastic — it is not real.

          God is not merely somebody over in the next county Whom you have never gone to visit. God is simply not possible in your experience, not matter where you go.

          If your thought is that “the next county would not exist except that God created it,” then you are not being reasonable on the matter.

  • Poster: The premise of your argument is that everything that is functionally complex is the result of intelligent intervention . Well, isn’t all intelligence functionally complex?

    MA: Only MATERIAL intelligence is functionally complex.

    May 6, 2012
    1:23 am

    —————-

    Poster 1: Our only experience in all of human history is that information is produced by intelligent agents.

    Poster 2: Our only experience in all of human history is that information is produced by intelligent, MATERIAL agents.

    MA: If SETI scientists received intelligible messages from another galaxy they would acknowledge their intelligence, consciousness and creative ability even though they would not have the slightest idea about who or what they were. In fact, they would not even know if they/he/it was even physical. Your distinction is ARBITRARY and SELF-SERVING (emphasis mine).

    May 5, 2012
    11:11 pm

    —————–

    So which is it? Do we distinguish between material and immaterial intelligence in order to avoid the regressive conclusion that your Creator contains functional complexity and therefore, must also be created? Or is that distinction “arbitrary and self serving”?

    • [][]“ Do we distinguish between material and immaterial intelligence …“[][]

      The notion of an “immaterial intelligent being” is pure bunkum. It has no reference point in reality.

  • [][][]
    David Makowsky
    September 22, 2012
    9:52 pm
    You claimed the “supernatural” could not possibly exist since it is beyond what we experience.
    [][][]

    “Beyond” is the sense of impossible to experience. (Not “beyond” in the sense of “something that happened before you were born.”)

    Edison, for instance, was part of the natural world. “The Supernatural” is a contradiction of nature. Big difference.

    Edison was real. God is fiction.

  • [][][]
    RexTugwell
    September 23, 2012
    11:15 am
    “I didn’t say dogs and cats didn’t know how to build an atomic bomb, I said they were dispatched because of the bomb whether they believed in nukes or not.”
    [][][]

    There were probably people who didn’t “believe in nukes,” or didn’t even have the slightest clue that they existed — and yet the bombs still killed them, too.

    The principle is that reality is what it is quite regardless of what anyone knows, believes, or wishes about the world.

    [][]“So it is with the supernatural. You can deny it exists but that don’t make it so.”[][]

    Naturally, if a bomb (or a person, etc.) exists, then merely denying the existence of the thing will not magically make it non-existent.

    On the subject of “the supernatural,” the principle is that believing that it exists does not make it so. You are free to indulge in blindly leaping faith all you like, but “the supernatural” is not going to magically become less unreal no matter how hard you believe in it. “The Supernatural” is not here; it is not there; it is not anywhere. It is fiction. Believe it or not.

  • [][][]
    David Makowsky
    September 21, 2012
    8:58 am
    ‘It is possible that some entity can create something you did experience, but “left” before you experienced it. Does this mean the “creator” (again, supernatural or otherwise) never existed simply because you did not experience it?’
    [][][]

    It stands to reason that where there are light bulbs, there was somebody who invented them — and yet others who are involved in manufacturing and distributing them. And those could all be people you have never met.

    But regardless of whom you have and have not met in your life, there are no grounds for believing in “the supernatural.” “The Supernatural” is simply fantastic — and in no way real.

    If you believe the light bulb is a miracle, you’re wrong. If you believe the origin of life was a miracle, you’re still wrong. If you believe anything is a miracle, there is no way you can be right.

    Nobody who creates, invents, produces, etc., anything is in way supernatural. In real life, “the supernatural” is not a possibility.

    In fiction, on the other hand, faith can move mountains.

  • Steve Stoddard
    September 21, 2012
    11:55 am

    “You can experience the light from a light bulb even though you have never met Thomas Edison. You can experience Hamlet even though you have never met Shakespeare. Etc.”

    Thank you. You just proved my point. I rest my case.

    The rest of what you wrote does not address the issue.

    • You missed the point, David.

      There is no rational basis for believing that, just because you have not met the inventor or creator of something, he might have used magic to cause it to come to be.

      You cannot logically get from actual, real-life experience to “the supernatural.” That is, your belief in “the supernatural” is pure fantasy — it is not based on experience or understanding.

      You keep trying to equate nature with “the supernatural,” and that doesn’t make sense.

      Your argument that God created the universe because you never met Edison does not hold water.

      • I did not miss the point. You did.

        You claimed the “supernatural” could not possibly exist since it is beyond what we experience. You then contradicted that point yourself.

        End of story.

        I do happen to believe in a divine creator (with, as you would say, “supernatural” powers). However I will leave that debate to those more qualified to make it such as Rabbi Averick.

        • [][]‘You claimed the “supernatural” could not possibly exist since it is beyond what we experience. You then contradicted that point yourself.’[][]

          Sorry, David, but I did not contradict my own point. You may wish that I had, but I didn’t. You seem to be under wild misapprehension that I was claiming that Edison and Shakespeare are supernatural beings! But, of course, they aren’t (and never were) — and I never made such a claim.

          You are fantasizing. It is not reasonable to make your leap of faith to believe that since you never met Edison therefore God created the universe!

        • [][]‘I do happen to believe in a divine creator (with, as you would say, “supernatural” powers).’[][]

          To the extent that you actually do believe that, you do so without reason, without evidence, without logic — and utterly in contradiction to all human experience.

          But that’s blind faith for you.

        • Sorry, Steve, you lose. You’ve stepped in it and ceded David’s point. I’m afraid you’re the one under a misapprehension since David never implied that you claimed Edison and Shakespeare are supernatural beings. The problem lies in your lack of reading comprehension. To borrow an example from Frank Sheed, the dogs and cats of Nagasaki didn’t know that man was the cause of their demise but they were vaporized nonetheless.

          • So what if dogs and cats don’t know how to build atomic bombs? Most people don’t know how to do it either. How is that supposed to mean that God exists? There is no sense or logic to your “point.”

            By what feat of magical “reading comprehension” do you fantasize that I have “ceded” the existence (or even the possibility) of “the supernatural.”?!

            All you have is an illogical leap of blind faith.

          • LOL! Steve, for your benefit I’m writing this s..l..o..w..l..y so you can grasp what I’m saying. I didn’t say dogs and cats didn’t know how to build an atomic bomb, I said they were dispatched because of the bomb whether they believed in nukes or not. So it is with the supernatural. You can deny it exists but that don’t make it so. You’re not making your side look good my friend but keep talking anyway.

          • How “s..l..o..w..l..y” are you going to have to write, Rex, before you start making sense?

            Why in the world do you feel that “the supernatural” is equivalent to a nuclear bomb?

          • Apparentlly I didn’t write slowly enough.

          • Actually, your problem is that what you are saying makes no sense. It is immaterial how “s..l..o..w..l..y” or otherwise you try to write it.

            The “God Bomb” is an utterly unrealistic figment of your imagination.

          • God is not “functionally complex.” God is simply non-existent.

  • 1. By what criteria are your arguments going to be judged as “reasonable”?

    2. Are you going to claim that all matter and energy were created at the moment of the Big Bang, because the theory doesn’t state that. It states that at the moment of the Big Bang all the matter and energy in the Universe were compressed into a singularity.

    3. Are you going to claim that the natural alternative to a Creator is that bacteria spontaneously self-assembled? Because it isn’t. The alternative is that bacteria evolved from a self-replicating molecule that spontaneously self-assembled.

    Good luck in the debate!

    • Eitan,

      Thanks for the good wishes. Gmar Tov. See Chapter 3 in my book regarding the issue of “simple” self replicating molecules.

      • “See my book!”

        With that as your stand in the debate, Grossman doesn’t have a chance.

        (And I still wonder what in the world motivated him to submit to such a trouncing.)

      • So you’re going to ignore the first two questions and evade the third… I guess that’s a reasonable tactic for someone in your position.

      • As long as your citing books instead of actually responding, here is a non-self published book that explains a plausible, testable mechanism for abiogenesis:

        Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane

        Alternatively, here is a summary of some of the current theories of abiogenesis:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis#Lipid_world

        So, the statement that “there is no plausible scientific theory to provide a naturalistic explanation of how life emerged from non-life” is simply false. I know you’ll ever admit it, though.

        You have an interesting strategy. Just keep lying about what science says and follow it up with a solid dose of argument from ignorance. There are still some people who are dumb enough to fall for it,

        • [][]So, the statement that “there is no plausible scientific theory to provide a naturalistic explanation of how life emerged from non-life” is simply false.[][]

          Even if that statement were true, the origin of life would still have been 100% natural. A “supernatural cause for life” is simply not a possibility — no matter how much or how little we know about what actually happened at the time.

          Life is real; the supernatural is fiction.

  • Intelligence does not breed religion ,however being Religious or even believing in G-D does not make you less intelligent.In religion its all about faith & a sense of belonging.No one knows for sure which way to go ,whether to believe or not ,however hedging your bets & believing or doing the minimum can possibly go with a reward & total rejection might not be something you would want to look forward in the after life.Again this is a case that can be made why you should believe.

    • []“Intelligence does not breed religion …”[]

      That is an understatement for the ages.

      []“… being Religious … does not make you less intelligent.”[]

      Basically, it does — to the extent that you take it seriously and try to put it into practice in real life — in the sense that Religion then negates your intelligence, rendering it irrelevant and immaterial.

    • [][]{}“… & total rejection might not be something you would want to look forward in the after life.”‘{}[][]

      Certainly, if you believe in the supernatural notion of “life after death,” you are not too likely to reject the belief in “life after death” (not even “totally”).

      And for those who don’t believe in such magic, it is not much of a problem to reject the notion of “life after death.”

  • [][][]
    David Makowsky
    September 19, 2012
    5:42 pm
    “Without making a circular argument, please explain how you would know something that you experienced was not created by something supernatural?”
    [][][]

    Think about how life works.

    You experience things every day. Sometimes they’re some of the same things you’ve experienced before, and sometimes you have new experiences. And in some cases you understand at least some of the causal processes involved in what you experience, while in other cases, you don’t understand much.

    Note that in every case where you do not understand the cause of something, you are perfectly free to imagine that there is “something supernatural behind it.” You are free to hope that when you find the cause of something, that it will turn out to be “supernatural.”

    To be honest and sensible, you logically need to admit that so far in human experience, nothing supernatural has ever turned up (as either cause or effect). You may, of course, simply believe that is merely a run of bad luck for theists, and that “something supernatural” will miraculously show up sometime in the future (may tomorrow). But if you’re looking for a guarantee that “the supernatural” will make an appearance, you need to rely on blind (i.e., religious) faith; there’s no evidence that it could ever happen.

    If your faith in “the supernatural” isn’t enough for you, you are basically up that creek without a paddle.

    Now you ask me to explain how it is nature and not something else that we experience every day. But all I can say is that if you won’t believe your own eyes, why would pay attention to what anybody else thinks? All you have to do is complain that relying on human experience of nature for human experience in life is a “circular argument” — and therefore God has to be a possibility. That’s the best you can do.

    • Update:

      It is not a “circular argument” to see that understanding nature requires paying attention to nature, i.e., sticking to the evidence. It is hard-earned experience.

      Religion, on the other hand, is the belief that paying attention to reality is unnecessary, and even undesirable. For the faithful, that’s as good as it gets.

    • You missed the point.

      How do you know that something natural that you have experienced was not created by something supernatural? You do not have to have ever experienced the supernatural for that to happen.

      You have claimed that the supernatural is impossible based on human experiences. I am only making the case that you have not come close to proving this. I have argued that what we have experienced cannot in any way exclude something we have not experienced (i.e. the “supernatural”).

      I think your argument is way off the mark in that it implies that for the supernatural to be real we must have experienced something we know is not natural. This would be place a limit on the power of the supernatural. That limit would be the supernatural must only reveal itself to us in ways that are supernatural and not by creating things that are natural for us to experience. That is not logical.

      • [][]“That limit would be the supernatural must only reveal itself to us in ways that are supernatural and not by creating things that are natural for us to experience. That is not logical.”[][]

        It is not logical to think of nature as not natural, but rather being limited by dependence on something unnatural.

        But you are getting around to how “the supernatural” is a contradictory notion. You are offering your belief that you can only know that “the supernatural” exists because you cannot possibly know anything about it.

      • [][]“How do you know that something natural that you have experienced was not created by something supernatural? You do not have to have ever experienced the supernatural for that to happen.”[][]

        If all you have ever experienced is nature — including cause and effect relationships and processes — then nature is the only possibility you know of as any cause (or effect) of anything. “The Supernatural” is utterly fantastic.

        It is not sensible to believe that nature is magically dependent on “supernatural processes.”

        Your belief boils down to the contradictory claim that “The supernatural exists precisely because I absolutely don’t know anything about it!” That’s blind faith, not understanding.

      • [][]‘I have argued that what we have experienced cannot in any way exclude something we have not experienced (i.e. the “supernatural”).’[][]

        Naturally, experiencing “A” does not necessarily exclude experiencing “B”. But it does exclude the possibility of experiencing “not-A” at the same time and in the same respect.

        That is, so long as you are in nature, the unnatural (i.e., the “supernatural”) is ruled out.

      • [][]“You have claimed that the supernatural is impossible based on human experiences. I am only making the case that you have not come close to proving this.”[][]

        There is no need to prove that the supernatural is not part of the real world any more than there is some need to prove that circles aren’t square.

        That’s just the way the world is. And there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Wishing there were a God cannot make it so.

        • I am replying to everything here.

          You have either misunderstood everything I wrote or you intentionally ignored it.

          That you do recognize something as being supernatural does not necessarily mean it isn’t (Yes, I understand it does not necessarily mean it is – so what?).

          However that is not even my main point. My main point is that even if you did not experience something (supernatural or otherwise) you cannot justify a claim that the something never existed.

          It is possible that some entity can create something you did experience, but “left” before you experienced it. Does this mean the “creator” (again, supernatural or otherwise) never existed simply because you did not experience it?

          • Take an example:

            You can experience the light from a light bulb even though you have never met Thomas Edison. You can experience Hamlet even though you have never met Shakespeare. Etc.

            Still, there is no rational basis for believing that just because you have not met the inventor or creator of something, he might have used magic to cause it to come to be.

            You cannot logically get from experience to “the supernatural.” That is, your belief in “the supernatural” is pure fantasy — it is not based on experience or understanding.

            You keep trying to equate nature with “the supernatural,” and that doesn’t make sense.

  • [][][]“Oh, I see. Nothingness doesn’t need a creator!!! So please be so kind and explain to me what IS nothing!”[][][]

    Nothing. Nothing at all.

    Just like the supernatural when you get right down to it.

  • A quick note on the coming “debate”:

    I happen to be an atheist, and if Rabbi Averick engages atheist Grossman as well as he does me on his blog, then Grossman is the only one who is going to use words, while Rabbi Averick relies on the silent treatment to make his point.

    And that would make sense, since the blind faith of the “Creation, by God!” notion cannot be logically supported by any words known to man.

  • {{{}}}
    Shlomo
    September 14, 2012
    11:57 am
    “This place was meant for intelligent people. You don’t seem to fit the mold, hence your lack of grasping the idea of a super natural being.”
    {{{}}}

    If your idea of “intelligent people” comes down to “people who believe in God,” then I certainly don’t “fit the mold.”

    While I think of intelligence as “using your mind to understand the world,” you seem to feel that it means “surrendering your mind to religious authorities and blind faith.” I think you’ve got it wrong.

  • Watch this this “Expelled: No intelligence allowed”

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/expelled-no-intelligence-allowed/

  • Steve, in case you haven’t realized (you probably haven’t cuz you’re way too busy shouting into your megaphone), nobody seems to be too enthralled by your foolishness. This place was meant for intelligent people. You don’t seem to fit the mold, hence your lack of grasping the idea of a super natural being. The mere utterance of the word “Natural” lends iteself to the Super Natural which has brought the Natural into being. But why waste my time Steve? You’ll never understand.

    • That is to say that you have blind (i.e., religious) faith not only in the supernatural, but also that people who don’t buy into the fallacy of the supernatural will “never understand.”

      Your claim of not being “too enthralled” with non-belief means that you have no rational answer empiricism (or to nature, either, for that matter).

    • Edit:
      That is to say that you have blind (i.e., religious) faith not only in the supernatural, but also that people who don’t buy into the fallacy of the supernatural will “never understand.”

      Your claim of not being “too enthralled” with non-belief means that you have no rational answer to empiricism (or to nature, either, for that matter).

    • [][]‘The mere utterance of the word “Natural” lends iteself to the Super Natural which has brought the Natural into being.’[][]

      The supernatural could not have brought nature into being — because nature actually exists, while “the supernatural” is fiction.

      Nature is real; the supernatural is imaginary.

    • {}{}“But why waste my time?”{}{}

      You should have thought of that before you wasted your time telling anyone about your faith.

  • [][][]
    Unbelvbl
    September 13, 2012
    9:42 pm
    “It’s either a god or something from nothing, right?”
    [][][]

    Wrong.

    You have proposed what is known as a false alternative. In fact, neither alternative you propose is possible.

  • [][][]
    Moshe Averick
    September 12, 2012
    11:35 am
    “6. At the present time there is no conclusive evidence to support any particular scientific theory which would explain how the gap between non-organic chemicals on the early Earth and the first living bacterium was crossed.”
    [][][]

    This “God of the Gap” argumentation is really, really very, very weak.

    And notice how Rabbi Averick tries to twist the fact of a gap in human knowledge into magically becoming a gap in nature, as such!

    Not only does he have absolutely no evidence of any such gap, the very notion of such a “gap in nature” is senseless. The rabbi is making it up out of whole cloth, so to speak, based on nothing but purely blind (i.e., religious) faith.

  • If you think about it, there is nothing anyone could offer as a debating point in favor of the proposition that “a supernatural intelligence is a reasonable explanation for the origin of life.” There are no facts and no logic to support such a proposition. It is pure blind faith. Or maybe blindingly pure faith.

    Whichever it is, there is essentially nothing to debate. You cannot even imagine anything reasonable to say in support of belief in the supernatural.

  • Good luck, Rabbi. I wish I could be there. This would make a good drinking game; during the debate, look for the following words and phrases from Mr. Grossman:

    (not an exhaustive list)
    possibly
    perhaps
    perchance
    probably
    conceivably
    feasibly
    maybe
    certainly
    “could have happened like this…”
    “scientists think…”
    “scientists believe…”
    RNA world
    “science is making great progress”
    “yes but 1 chance in a billion billion billion billion billion is still a possibility”

    • [][]“1 chance in a billion billion billion billion billion is still a possibility”[][]

      Not much of one, but still quite substantial compared to the zero chance of supernatural intervention in nature (or of “Creation, by God!”).

      • How did you arrive at that figure for zero chance of a Creator? You must have some pretty strong facts to support the view that there is no chance whatsoever of that being the case.

        • Since the notion of “the supernatural” contradicts everything within the realm of human experience, that amounts to a lot of “strong facts” 100% in favor of nature, and 0% against.

          So the score is nature: everything; the supernatural: nothing.

          • So if something that contradicts everything in the human realm cannot be true, how is it that something from nothing, which is absolutely contradictory to our experience in the current form of existence, how is that your god?! It’s either a god or something from nothing, right? Then why is something from nothing more acceptable for you?!

            Well, you’ll say, god also needs a creator, so I choose something that doesn’t need one.

            Oh, I see. Nothingness doesn’t need a creator!!! So please be so kind and explain to me what IS nothing!

            When you’ll finally realize that nothing is also something, you’ll understand that the only reasonable argument is that there is a first being who has its own laws of existence to which we are oblivious, and always will be.

          • [][]“… we are oblivious, and always will be.”[][]

            You are speaking for yourself on that point — and I really can’t dispute your self-analysis.

            But not everyone is oblivious like you claim to be. It is certainly not normal.

          • Just how does the supernatural contradict everything within the realm of human experience?

          • The notion of “the supernatural” is that it’s unnatural, unreal, unknowable, “beyond space and time,” not-of-this-world, etc. In short, the contradictory of the actual world which we do directly experience.

          • “The notion of “the supernatural” is that it’s unnatural, unreal, unknowable, “beyond space and time,” not-of-this-world, etc. In short, the contradictory of the actual world which we do directly experience.”

            Even if I were to grant all of what you believe to be the notion of the supernatural, that does not necessarily mean we do not directly experience it.

            However even if we did not directly experience it, we could still experience the effect of the supernatural.

          • [][]“… we could still experience the effect of the supernatural.”[][]

            Well, I suppose you super people with super senses can do such “experience,” but we normal people can’t. I guess you’re on your own with that blind faith stuff.

          • “Well, I suppose you super people with super senses can do such “experience,” but we normal people can’t. I guess you’re on your own with that blind faith stuff.”

            Without making a circular argument, please explain how you wouild know something that you experienced was not created by something supernatural?

    • Also be on the lookout for stuff like “specified complexity,” “digital information,” and “beyond space and time,” from Rabbi Averick.

  • For Your Information:

    Here is the agreed upon protocol for the debate:

    Agreed that:

    1. The topic under discussion is not the truth, accuracy, or interpretation of the creation story in the first chapters of B’reisheit (Genesis).
    2. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the universe came into being roughly 14 billion years ago in what is commonly called “The Big Bang.” How this “Big Bang” happened or who or what caused it is not a topic under discussion in this debate.
    3. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the Earth formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago.
    4. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the earliest known life began no later than 3.7 billion years ago. The earliest known living organisms are some form of bacteria.
    5. While it is possible that there was life earlier than 3.7 billion years ago there is no conclusive scientific evidence one way or the other. Due to the effect of heat on early rock formations it may never be scientifically possible to ascertain how long ago life began on Earth.
    6. At the present time there is no conclusive evidence to support any particular scientific theory which would explain how the gap between non-organic chemicals on the early Earth and the first living bacterium was crossed.
    7. The fact that at present there is no plausible scientific theory to provide a naturalistic explanation of how life emerged from non-life does not, in and of itself, mean that it did not happen and does not preclude the possibility that such a theory will be discovered in the future. Almost all origin-of-life researchers believe that one day such a theory will be discovered.
    8. The fact that such a scientific theory does not exist, does not in and of itself lead to the conclusion that life was created by some sort of intelligent creator.
    9. Even if we would agree that the origin-of-life required an intelligent creator outside of the physical universe, that would not in any way imply the truth or falsehood of any claim of divine revelation. Such a claim would require separate evidence and would also require an entirely different discussion.
    10. The only topic which is being debated is the following: What is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of life on Earth: An intelligent creator or an unguided, naturalistic process?

    • An unguided natural process is the only possible explanation — which certainly makes it the reasonable explanation.

      A supernatural “Intelligent Creator” is patently NOT an explanation at all, since it defies nature by arbitrarily asserting the existence of something supernatural, i.e., not possibly real.

    • [][]’2. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the universe came into being roughly 14 billion years ago in what is commonly called “The Big Bang.”’[][]

      In other words, you are going to assume “creation, ex nihilo“, i.e., a supernatural event. Talk about rigging the game!

    • Based on #4 and #10 above, am I correct in assumng you will only be debating the origin of bacteria or is it more than that?

      • David,

        You’ll either have to come to the debate or watch the video to find out.

        • Remember that it doesn’t make any difference what forms of life are debated — nobody knows anything about what actually happened.

          Even though it is certain that it was a NATURAL process, we still don’t know just what actually happened.

    • [][]“9. Even if we would agree that the origin-of-life required an intelligent creator outside of the physical universe,…”[][]

      It still wouldn’t be true that such a supernatural being would be an actual possibility. Basically, God is a pipe-dream.

    • I guess it would also pay to remember that no one has a clue as to what actually happened in the processes of the origin of life on Earth.

    • http://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0208013v3.pdf

      Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant.

      very hard science paper entertaining the possibility at the bottom of page 19 that “sn unknown agent intervened … and for reasons of its own restarted the universe…” (or maybe there is no such thing as a cosmological constant. They don’t know.) I got partway through the first paragraph looking up unfamiliar terms and unfamiliar terms in the definitions of those unfamiliar terms in only 45 minutes. Enjoy. (smiley face here)

      • [][] “an unknown agent intervened … and for reasons of its own restarted the universe…”[][]

        That is not “hard science.” That is hard faith — really very blind religious faith.

  • Please post it on youtube.

    It will be important to call Mr. Grossman out on deviating from the above protocol, should he do so. The question at issue is the existence of God, and whether or not his atheism is justified, and not random grievances he may have with orthodox Jewish life in 21st century Brooklyn, specific schools of thought within orthodoxy, random scandals presented in the media, etc., which he might be tempted to address as a means of intellectually dodging the central topic at hand.

    I still think he’ll cop out, but I hope not.

    • Michael,

      The debate will be videotaped and posted on YouTube, b’eh.

      • I will eagerly await the YouTube posting of this debate. My prayers will go to our Creator for your witness to Him at this event and always in your life.

        Shalom.

    • [][]“The question at issue is the existence of God,…”[][]

      “Does God exist?” is no more a legitimate question than “Are circles square?”

      Not only is there no evidence for God and square circles, the very notions are simply contradictions of nature as such. God and square circles are fantastic beliefs about how something unreal is miraculously possible regardless of reality.

  • I look forward to hearing all about the outcome of the debate.

    • The outcome will be that nature will remain impervious to faith, and the faithful will stick to their religion in place of reality.

      The question — “What is the most reasonable explanation for the Origin of Life: An Intelligent Creator or an Unguided Naturalistic Process?” — is a trick question. It is designed to pretend that it is reasonable to “debate the supernatural,” when such debate is literally impossible (since the supernatural is non-existent) and definitely unreasonable (since the supernatural gives us nothing besides fiction to talk about).

      I don’t know who Grossman is, but the obvious question arises: is he a ringer? If he didn’t wish to make the question seem legitimate, why would he pretend to “debate” it?

  • [][]“What is the most reasonable explanation for the Origin of Life: An Intelligent Creator or an Unguided Naturalistic Process?”[][]

    An unguided natural process is the only possible explanation — which certainly makes it the reasonable explanation.

    A supernatural “Intelligent Creator” is patently NOT an explanation at all, since it defies nature by arbitrarily asserting the existence of something supernatural, i.e., unreal (aka impossible).

    Note, also, that the origin of life was a 100% NATURAL process — not somehow merely a “naturalISTIC” one.

    • Steve, I no longer think you are a web troll. I’m concerned about your mental health, and wish you the best of luck.

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