Wednesday, August 23rd | 1 Elul 5777

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
July 4, 2011 1:27 pm

Christopher Hitchens: The Elmer Gantry of Modern Atheism

avatar by Moshe Averick

Email a copy of "Christopher Hitchens: The Elmer Gantry of Modern Atheism" to a friend

Christopher Hitchens

Please circle one:

Is Christopher Hitchens: (a) a Charlatan (b) an Unpardonably Sloppy Researcher (c) an Atheist Huckster or (d) All of the above?

Related coverage

August 22, 2017 8:50 pm
0

Alan Dershowitz: The President Has a Special Obligation to Condemn the Racist Right

All decent Americans have an obligation to condemn the violent bigotry of the Nazi and KKK demonstrators in Charlottesville or...

New York Times Book Review Section, Feb. 22, 2011

Earlier this month, Rabbi Moshe Averick, an ordained orthodox rabbi and a distinguished Jewish educator for over three decades released his long awaited response to modern “militant atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. The book is confrontationally entitled Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. Unfortunately for Averick, he entirely blows his credibility as an authoritative voice on this subject very early in the book. How can we take him seriously when he actually writes the following absurdities?

  • “It is well known that nearly all child molesters are raised with atheistic beliefs” (pg. 32)
  • “Charles Darwin first published Origin of the Species just after the turn of the century in 1901″ (pg. 15)
  • “It is an established fact that atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell advocated the re-enslavement of black people and pejoratively referred to them as “darkies.”(pg. 67)

It really doesn’t help Averick’s case very much that when informed at one of his lectures, that the notion that almost all child molesters are raised as atheists is utter nonsense, that Bertrand Russell never advocated re-enslavement of black people, and that Origin of the Species was published in 1859, he responded by saying, “Oh gee, I’m sorry, I really should not have written those things. I’ll make sure and correct them for the second edition.” The obvious question of course, is how does any kind of serious author write such ridiculous – and so easily verifiable as such – assertions in the first place? Does he not possess the slightest amount of journalistic integrity? This is an unforgivable display of sloppiness, negligence, and irresponsibility, especially when approaching such a serious and weighty subject. We can therefore conclude that reading this book is a waste of time…….

Thank God (yes, he does exist), the book review above is entirely imaginary. However, all one need do to effect a magical transformation is to change the title of the book in question. If the book under review would have been Christopher Hitchens’ atheistic magnum opus, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, abracadabra, the imaginary would have become stark, unforgiving reality. Consider the following (non-comprehensive) samplings from Mr. Hitchens book….

Orthodox Jewish Congress

In Chapter Four Hitchens tells us that: 

  • “Orthodox Jews conduct congress by means of a hole in the sheet.”

Hitchens off-handedly states this astonishing falsehood in the middle of a rant about religious sexual repression. Did Hitchens arrive at this conclusion after hours, days, weeks, or months of painstaking research? Did he call or contact one of literally hundreds of orthodox rabbis and scholars who would have gladly responded to his inquiries? There is no footnote or reference. Wouldn’t even a minimal level of integrity demand the verification of such a claim? Is it possible that a professional editor would not raise the issue? The answer of course is that he simply made it up. He didn’t care if it was true or not, he knew that his editor didn’t care if it was true or not, and most important of all, he knew that his audience didn’t really care if it was true or not. What difference would it make? After all, religion poisons everything! When called out on this bald-faced lie, he mustered all the phony humility at his disposal and wrote the following:

  • “May 17. Coral Gables, Florida: I owe an apology. It is absolutely not true, as urban legend has it, that Orthodox Jews conduct sexual congress through a hole in the sheet. I should never have mentioned this slander, even in passing, in my book. It won’t appear in the reprint (Afterword, Vanity Fair, Sep. 2007)

It seems that Hitchens is not averse to presenting urban legend as fact. If this was the only such error in the book, perhaps we could judge Mr. Hitchens less harshly. We could concede that although it was a glaring error, it was not a malicious one, and we would accept his apology and move on. Unfortunately that is not the case; this flagrant distortion is not atypical, it is, in fact, emblematic of Hitchens’ approach to the subject.

A neurotic obsession with religion

In chapter four, Hitchens also presents the reader with an obscene depiction of a Jewish circumcision ceremony. Although, ironically enough, Hitchens is Jewish, the disgusting passages under discussion could have been plagiarized from the pages of Der Sturmer, the rabidly anti-Jewish, quasi-pornographic tabloid published by Julius Streicher, a Nazi war criminal executed by the Allies in 1946. The way in which Hitchens portrays the ceremony is so vulgar and divorced from reality,  at the very least it indicates some sort of pathology, be it emotional, spiritual, or intellectual.

As if that wasn’t enough of a  display of his neurotic obsession with religion, he then outrageously equates Jewish circumcision (which takes literally about 15 seconds and, if judging by the amount of crying, hurts about as much as a vaccination) with the revolting practice of genital mutilation which young girls are subjected to “across a wide swath of animist and Muslim Africa.”  A mutilation which includes the “slicing off of the labia and clitoris, often with a sharp stone, and then stitching up of the vaginal opening with strong twine, not to be removed until it is broken by male force on the bridal night.”

When it comes to these fabrications, Hitchens’ motto seems to be “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Not only does he obliquely inform us that Jewish circumcision has sexual overtones and is comparable to female genital mutilation, (if you have ever attended a Jewish circumcision and are shaking your head in disbelief, it is for the simple reason that what Hitchens writes on this subject has very little connection to reality), but he accuses Jews of having heartlessly and ruthlessly killed and disfigured many a young boy because of this barbaric practice. From chapter sixteen:

  • “And who can bear to read the medical textbooks and histories which calmly record the number of boy babies who died from infection after their eighth day, or who suffered gross and unbearable dysfunction and disfigurement? The record of syphilitic and other infection, from rotting rabbinical teeth or other rabbinical indiscretions…is simply dreadful.”

After reading this shocking claim, I looked in vain for the footnote or reference to see where he found this frightening piece of information. There is no footnote or reference because it is an outright lie. My grandfather was, and my son is, a highly trained mohel, (a person trained to perform Jewish ritual circumcision), and my sons are circumcised as are all the males in my immediate family. I am familiar with the precautions that a mohel takes to ensure the health of the baby. It is not unusual for a mohel to postpone a circumcision because of a condition that wouldn’t otherwise cause alarm, such as a slightly elevated bilirubin count.  If, after consulting with medical professionals, it is determined that there is a possibility of a health hazard, the circumcision is put off indefinitely. Hitchens cites an incident which either involved clear negligence on the part of the particular mohel, or was simply a tragic mishap. While negligence unfortunately occurs at all levels of human endeavor (among physicians, accountants, atheist authors) it is not a regular component of circumcision. Risk attends even the simplest of surgical procedures – even blood transfusions – frequently at levels higher than we may think.  None of this justifies Hitchens’ wild, hysterical, and slanderous rantings about Jewish circumcision. 

In all fairness, there are some serious side effects to the performance of the brit milah (covenant of circumcision). For instance, scientific studies have shown that in the United States, a circumcised Jewish male runs a much higher risk of becoming the CEO of a major Hollywood studio than an uncircumcised gentile. (O.K., I’m fudging a bit, even a higher risk than circumcised gentiles) A circumcised Jewish male also runs a much higher risk of winning a Nobel Prize in medicine (although Jews are roughly 0.2% of the world’s population, nearly 50% of all Nobel Prize winners in medicine have been Jewish). In fact, there is a barbaric side to a Jewish circumcision. However, as I have explained, it has nothing to do with the ceremony itself. It’s after the ceremony, when the room full of Jews head towards the trays of bagels and lox, now that is positively brutal….

Our favorite Oxford-educated (Jewish!) atheist also can’t resist the chance to play “blame the victim”: 

  • “The orthodox Jews are not blameless here. By claiming to be “chosen” in a special exclusive covenant with the Almighty, they invited hatred and suspicion and evinced their own form of racism.”

Hitchens is really on to something here. What other things do orthodox Jews do to inspire “hatred and suspicion?” If we are not “blameless” then we should own up to it, fair and square.  The Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus writes in The Histories that one of “the sinister and revolting” practices of the Jews is that they consider it “a deadly sin to kill a born or unborn child.”  (not only is it “sinister and revolting” but it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!)   It now becomes so clear that we have brought all this hatred on ourselves; claiming to have a covenant with God, and even worse, we don’t believe in killing babies.

Hitchens screws up on Science also

Hitchens’  sloppy research is not confined to matters of religion; he manages to mangle even scientific facts and history. From chapter six: 

  • There are many disputes between [scientists]…as to how it began [i.e. how life began]. Francis Crick even allowed himself to flirt with the theory that life was “inseminated” on earth by bacteria spread from a passing comet.”

Francis Crick did not flirt with the idea of Panspermia (life on earth being “seeded” from outer space). In 1973, together with renowned chemist Leslie Orgel, he published a paper in the journal Icarus, proposing that an advanced alien civilization sent life to Earth. Crick also discussed this idea, called  Directed Panspermia, in his book Life Itself and in the foreword to a seminal scientific text entitled The RNA World. Crick and Orgel proposed such an outlandish theory, because at the time (and it is still true today), scientists were completely baffled how life could have emerged from non-life on Earth. Perhaps Hitchens was embarrassed that such a brilliant atheistic scientist actually proposed such a wacky idea, (although Crick himself did admit it was “far-fetched”) and was covering for him. Hitchens’ scientific hatchet job continues in chapter six:

  • “This is what makes piffle out of the ignorant creationist sneer, which compares evolution to a whirlwind blowing through a junkyard of parts and coming up with a jumbo jet…”

Here Hitchens manages to not only to falsify a source, but to distort and corrupt the context of the cited metaphor. The oft quoted “tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747″ is not “creationist sneer.”  It was proffered by one of the world’s most distinguished and respected scientists, the late Sir Fred Hoyle, a world class astronomer, mathematician, and physicist. In the latter part of his life, Hoyle embarked on a quest to investigate the enigma of Origin of Life. Here is the exact quote from his book, The Intelligent Universe:

  • “A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there? So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole universe.”

Not only is this not “creationist sneer”, but contrary to Hitchens claim, Hoyle was not even talking about Darwinian Evolution at all! He was talking about the origin of the first living bacterium; in other words, the Origin of Life. “Although some people confuse the origin of life with evolution, the two are conceptually separate.” (Dr. Eugenie Scott, Director of the NCSE)

Hitchens seems to be unaware of what Dr. Ken Nealson of the National Academy of Sciences takes for granted, “Nobody understands the origin of life, if they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you.” If the profundity of the problem is still not clear, here is world renowned biologist, Dr. Lynn Margulis, “To go from bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium.” This, of course, is the reason why many of the well known scientific advocates of atheism, including Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers, and Richard Dawkins, have assiduously avoided participating in a debate on the specific topic of Origin of Life. The enormous, yawning chasm between non-living chemicals and the simplest bacterium is enough to send the most zealous and outspoken atheist running for cover. Hitchens is either blissfully ignorant of this fact or, per Dr. Nealson, he is simply trying to fool you.

  • “”We have only recently established that a cow is closer in family to a whale than to a horse: other wonders certainly await us.” (Chapter Six) Please, no more wonders, I don’t think I could take the excitement!

Middle-East history is abused by Hitchens

Hitchens’ zealously anti-religious attitude poisons just about everything, including his understanding of history. From Chapter two:

  • “I once heard the late Abba Eban, one of Israel’s more polished and thoughtful diplomats [state that the solution to] the Israeli-Palestinian dispute…was a simple one….The solution was, obviously, to create two states side by side. Surely something so self-evident was within the wit of man to encompass? And so it would have been, decades ago, if the messianic rabbis and the mullahs and priests could have been kept out of it…hysterical clerics on both sides…have made the situation insufferable.

Fact: The modern Zionist movement was founded by a completely secularized and assimilated Austrian Jew named Theodore Herzl. Originally Herzl felt that the solution to the “Jewish Problem” would be solved by mass conversions of Jews to Christianity. As a journalist covering the Dreyfus trial in France he became convinced that as long as Jews did not have their own country, they would always be hated as “outsiders.” Herzl had little more to do with religion than Hitchens. Almost all the important leaders of Modern Zionism were secular, socialist, and vehemently anti-religious.

Fact: The most strident opponents of modern Zionism were Orthodox Jews, although some were active supporters.  Their essential opposition was because they believed, contrary to Hitchens’ assertions, that Zionism would delay the ushering in of the messianic age. In fact, Rabbi Yosef Haim Zonnenfeld, the saintly leader of the Orthodox community in Jerusalem, appointed Dr. Yakov DeHahn, to represent his community to the British. They advocated, not an independent state, but an autonomous community under the rule of the British/Arabs. Dr. DeHahn was condemned as a “traitor” by the secular Zionists and was assassinated by the Haganah in June, 1924.

Fact: On November 29, 1947, the U.N. voted to partition Palestine into two states, side by side. A Jewish Palestinian state and an Arab Palestinian state (just like Abba Eban suggested). The Arab Palestinian state contained every square inch of, what is now called, the West Bank and Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Immediately, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon declared war on the Jewish State. “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the massacres of the crusades.” (Azzam Pasha, General Secretary of the Arab League, 1948) Ironically, the only country in the region that formally recognized the Arab Palestinian state was Israel! The Arab Palestinian state never even recognized itself! For the next 20 years the entire West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem were under Arab control. At no time during those two decades, did they ever attempt to establish an Arab Palestinian state. Instead, in 1967, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, launched another war whose aim was to eradicate the State of Israel:

  • Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel” (Gamel Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt, May 27, 1967)
  • “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation” (Hafez Assad, Syrian Defense Minister, May 20, 1967)
  • “Kill Jews wherever you find them, kill them with your hands, with your nails, with your teeth.” (King Hussein of Jordan, June, 1967)

Fact: Every single major leader of Orthodox Judaism (including what is called the Ultra-Orthodox), has stated that, if it would actually bring peace, Israel should make territorial concessions. There is only one major leader in mainstream Orthodox Judaism who declared that after the defensive war in 1967 (i.e. The Six Day War), Jews are not allowed to return those parts of Israel which God victoriously placed in our hands. While this segment of the population is vocal, they are statistically insignificant.

Had the Arabs been prepared to make peace after 1967, there would have been peace. After the 1967 war,  Abba  Eban anounced that “everything is negotiable.” In 1970, the leaders of 13 Arab countries met in Khartoum and issued the famous “3 No’s” resolution: No Recognition of Israel, No Negotiations with Israel, and No Peace with Israel. Despite the protestations of Jewish opponents to territorial concessions, Israel withdrew from Sinai after signing a peace treaty with Egypt, unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon, and most recently, withdrew from Gaza.

In short, the entire burden of the Middle East Conflict lies on the shoulders of “hysterical clerics” of one side only: the Arabs. Jews, both religious and non-religious have always been prepared, from the U.N. Partition vote in 1947 onward, to live in peace with their Arab cousins. It is religious Jews who gave the world the concept of world peace as an abstract ideal. It is written on the Isaiah wall at the United Nations, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; they shall study war no more.”

This creates a horrible and irresolvable dilemma for Christopher Hitchens. He has foolishly boxed himself into a corner by declaring that religion poisons everything. He must blame religious leaders on both sides for the continuation of the conflict, whether it is true or not. Were he to acknowledge the obvious truth, that religious Jews have always striven for peace, his entire thesis would implode. At that point, anything is possible; he might even have to consider the possibility of believing in God. (Oh my God!)

Atheistic Amorality

  • “But the conscription of the unprotected child for these purposes [sexual exploitation] is something that even the most dedicated secularist can safely describe as a sin.” (Chapter Four)

Wrong again, Mr. Hitchens:

“I have given up morality altogether. I have been laboring under an unexamined assumption, namely that there is such a thing as right or wrong…I experienced my shocking epiphany that religious fundamentalists are correct; without God there is no morality…the long and short of it is that atheism implies amorality, and since I am an atheist I must embrace amorality…even though words like “sinful” and “evil” come naturally to the tongue as a description of, say, child molesting, they do not describe any actual properties of anything. There are no literal sins in the world because there is no literal God.” (Dr. Joel Marks, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of New Haven)

Upon being asked in an interview by journalist William Crawley if he thought that pedophilia was “just wrong,” atheist Peter Singer (Professor of Bio-Ethics, Princeton University), replied: “I don’t have intrinsic moral taboos. My view is not that anything is just wrong…” It is a dark day for non-believers everywhere, when an orthodox rabbi has to school Christopher Hitchens in the finer points of atheistic moral philosophy.

  • “We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion…we atheists do not require any priests, or any hierarchy obove them, to police our doctrine.” (Chapter One) Hitchens is correct. Atheists don’t need God, religion, priests, or any other hierarchy to police their doctrine. They only need the police to police their doctrines.
  • “My challenge: Name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of faith, that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer. I have asked this question at every stop and haven’t had a reply yet. (Vanity Fair, Sep. 2007)

Try this ethical statement on for size: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and have been endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, and among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nobody heard of the Declaration of Independence? Perhaps he posed the question on a speaking tour through Lithuania.

If the Declaration of Independence had been written by an atheist it would have gone something like this: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men, women, animals, fish, birds, reptiles, bacteria, etc. emerged out of the slime (or if you prefer, pre-biotic soup) about 3.7 billion years ago by means of  a purposeless, directionless evolutionary process. We’re only here because we caught a bunch of lucky, flukey breaks along the way. Of course, this means that in a cosmic sense, life has no significance at all, which sort of makes it hard to get too excited about that George Washington fellow and his revolutionary talk…

Check your facts please

  • “But it still persists among the sort of Hasidic fundamentalists who hope for the Second Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Chapter Four)

The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians some 500-600 years before the Common Era. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the first century of the Common Era. Nowadays, Jews anxiously await the building of the Third Temple, when the Messianic Age predicted by the Jewish prophets is ushered in.

  • The holy book in the longest continual use – the Talmud – commands….(Chapter Four)

I’m not sure if Hitchens is referring to the Babylonian Talmud or the Jerusalem Talmud, but the Five Books of Moses (also a holy book in use by the Jews) pre-dates both by many centuries. Mr. Hitchens, if you find genuine research overly taxing, may I recommend Answers.com. Oh, and by the way, the correct answer is (d) All of the above.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi 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 at http://rabbimaverick.com/

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Emile Besser

    Don, thank you for the effortless cool you delivered to our lives. Go along with God and strut along the Soul Train Line with the angels.

  • Test

    This article only goes to prove that religion must be abolished if we ever wish to advance as a society. I am certain this Rabbi is a nice person with good intentions but his religion has made him so delusional he can’t even see that it is wrong to cut off part of a child’s penis who has no say in the matter. I don’t care what consenting adults do to each other but what this Rabbi does to innocent baby boys is criminal and should be treated that way. I don’t know if there is a god, but I do know for certain that both Hitchens and this Rabbi (and everyone else on this planet) also do not know if there is a god. I really hope there is one so that this Rabbi, and other people performing barbaric acts on children, will be punished by Him.

  • Johann

    Moshe – I’m assuming your reply ended up in my inbox rather than this page due to some error, so I’m reposting it here:

    I said that if God does not exist then either Moshe or Johann decides: If God does not exist then we are left with nothing but your personal preference vs. my personal preference. Your terrible mistake is that you see yourself as some sort of oracle, you think that because you subjectively feel something it magically transforms into some artificial construct you have named “morality.”

    By using the word “morality” you confuse the discussion. Identify it for what it actually is: your own personal preference, nothing more, nothing less.

    …you know, your moral contortionism is really quite amusing, from a certain angle. 😉 Take this, for instance:

    Your terrible mistake is that you see yourself as some sort of oracle

    Your dictionary impairment is showing again, Moshe.

    An oracle, ever since ancient Greece, has been someone who speaks for the gods. Does that sound familiar? It should. This is your position in a nutshell. You are the one trying to effect a magical transmutation of your own moral preferences and convictions into unreachable and unimpeachable divine principles.

    You steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the existence of some really rather basic principles of secular morality, so I don’t think there’s really any chance of getting an honest critique of an atheist worldview out of you. But it seems to me that you are not entirely blind to the depth of depravity permitted by your own.

    So I ask again – and please, don’t ignore or evade the question again. Would you kill a child of yours if your god wanted you to do so?

  • And then a variety of Jewish and Israeli groups are working to abolish circumcision.

    Kahal: Giving Up Brit Milah (in Hebrew)
    http://www.kahal.org

    Gonnen: Protect the Child (in Hebrew)
    http://www.gonnen.org

    Beyond the Bris: A Jewish Intactivist Blog
    http://www.beyondthebris.com

    Jews Against Circumcision
    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org

    Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective
    http://www.jewishcircumcision.org

  • Julian,

    Of course Atheism inescapably implies amorality. What you as an atheist call “morality” is nothing more than an expression of your personal prefrences. You express your personal preferences exactly like all other 6,000,000,000 human inhabitants of this planet express their personal preferences. Your preferences are no more significant or meaningful than those of anyone else. For the atheist “morality” is nothing more than a WORD which we assign to our personal or societal preferences. It has no actual existence or reality.
    “Morality is the custom of one’s country and the current feelings of one’s peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibalistic country.”

    The fact that you don’t like what the Bible has to say is irrelevant to this basic point. The purpose of my article was not to convince you of the truth of the Torah. Be my guest, reject the Torah completely if you must, but it does not change the fact that absolute, metaphysically existent moral values can only emanate from an eternal, infinite, transcendent God. The alternative is simply subjective human feelings. If God does not exist, then that is all we have.

    You misunderstood the point I made. I never used the sand castle argument to dispute evolution. I never addressed the issue of evolution. I was only talking about Origin of Life. The simple fact is that science hasn’t the slightest clue how life emerged from non-life through a naturalistic process. (they do have highly speculative theories, though) The obvious conclusion (or at the very least, the highly reasonable possibility) that life (not evolution) is the result of conscious, intelligent act of creation, is not anti-science. It is just the obviousl truth. I don’t understand why you link this to being anti-science. Please remember: a. I am an orthodox rabbi, Judaism never claimed infallibility in science and never opposed honest scientific research, in fact the opposite is true b.the Gallileo incident took place nearly 400 years ago. The only people who are anti-science nowadays are people like Richard DAwkins and P.Z. Myers who refuse to consider scientific challenges to Darwinian orthodoxy.

    • nyomythus

      “Of course Atheism inescapably implies amorality…” It implies amorality or morality depending on the individual — same for atheist or theist or deist. Fortunately, for a normal person, morality is innate. All normal people are born knowing that murder is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that being cruel is wrong. Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. If you want a good person to do a bad thing, give them religion.

    • ward

      Be my guest, reject the Torah completely if you must, but it does not change the fact that absolute, metaphysically existent moral values can only emanate from an eternal, infinite, transcendent God. The alternative is simply subjective human feelings. If God does not exist, then that is all we have.

      Have you considered the third option? That it is not yet known. If two colorblind people look upon a blue pen, what color would they suggest it to be? Morality is both intrinsic and societal, atheists in general are wonderful students quick to understand and to question when they don’t. Those like you are not only subject to the moral implications of a law based society but to a god in which you supposedly believe want’s you to chop off part of an infants genitalia. Forgive me for being a bit suspect of your morality.

      The obvious conclusion (or at the very least, the highly reasonable possibility) that life (not evolution) is the result of conscious, intelligent act of creation, is not anti-science.

      That you would say this makes the point that believing in such things allows for a suspension of morality (genital mutilation), suppose god had commanded you chop off their ears that they might not hear the evil ranting of atheists, of course since it was commanded, you would do it.

      And lets assume for just a moment you are correct and an intelligent life form did in fact get the ball rolling so to speak, it says absolutely nothing favorable or believable about the doctrine you profess to believe. It is quite honestly the grandest form of arrogance to suggest that you “know” there is a god, that he is not only aware of your existence but actually cares and occasionally intervenes in the petty squabbles of his creation, that this god offered one specific group the title of “chosen” either out of pity or love, that the multitudinous vistas of the stars so mind numbingly vast in number were put there simply for the sake of beauty etc. I don’t wish to sound rude but can’t you simply concede that you don’t really know either and more over that your belief system is every bit as tacky silly and unworthy of belief as is Scientology?

    • Moshe Averick

      Lee,

      It’s interesting that of all the horrible claims that people like yourself make about circumcision, one would have that thought that there would be endless examples for you to choose from. In fact, both you and Hitchens referred to the exact same incident, that happened 6 years ago, which already indicates that you have very LITTLE to choose from.

      I explicitly said in the article, that the incident referred to either was a case of negligence on the part of the mohel, or was a tragic mishap. People in hospitals get staff infections despite all the attempts to prevent them. You know about circumcision as an outsider, I know about it as an insider, and your claims and Hitchens’ claims are hysterical nonsense. Every precaution is taken to ensure the health of the baby. Period.

      • Your reply only makes sense if we assume that the New York Times fabricated the story, that the health department is deluded, and that the herpes-infected Rabbis in fact do not suck the blood out the the babies’ penises with their mouths, even though they admit that they do and that they refuse to modify the practice, even if occasionally a baby dies from it. Either that, or you believe that sucking on a baby’s freshly sliced penis amounts to taking “every precaution” to “ensure the health of the baby.”

        • Lee,

          Anyone who would do such a thing when there was a risk of a herpes infection would be criminally negligent in my opinion.
          This type of practice was condemned in Orthodox circles no matter you read in the press. Anything you read in the press about Orthodox Jews, particularly if it is a negative article always has to be taken with a 100 pound sack of salt. Much of what is written is laughable to anyone who has an insider’s understanding of what Judaism is.
          This is also applies to almost everything Hitchens writes about Jewish practice. he thinks that because he read an english translation of the bible that he understands what Judaism is.

          Imagine someone who has never played baseball, never seen a baseball diamond or a baseball stadium, did not grow up in American and has no idea about the game or even more important the culture of baseball in the United States. The only thing he has is a copy of the official rule book. After a superficial reading of the rules, how much about baseball in America does he understand. Almost nothing. If he went to a Major League game he would be lost. That is just watching the game itself, but the culture of baseball would be a total mystery to him. Babe Ruth, hitting streak, perfect game, World Series, choking up on the bat, none of these things would mean anything at all to him. This is Christopher Hitchens or someone like yourself trying to understand Judaism. Imagine if not only would this person try to explain baseball to someone else, but he would present himself as an EXPERT on baseball. It would be less than a joke. That is Hitchens when he discusses anything about the Torah or Judaism.

          The simple fact is that the incident you mentioned (and Hitchens also) was such big news because such things essentially never happen. News is when “man bites dog.”

          • I’m confused by your response. Do you admit that this group of Orthodox Rabbis does the penis-sucking, or are you saying that the Times made the whole story up, including the quotes from the Rabbis who said that they had no intention of altering the practice? If you admit that this group does the penis-sucking, are you saying also that in your opinion these Rabbis are criminally negligent? Because you must know that there is no avoiding a “risk of a herpes infection” in this case. Do you think you can address this issue without arguing with Hitchens instead, or going on at length about what you imagine my knowledge of Judaism is?

          • Moshe Averick

            Lee,

            Just the fact that you use the phrase “penis sucking” over and over again at every available opportunity is indicative or your lack of understanding of Judaism and circumcision. NOBODY in a circumcision ceremony does such a disgusting thing. I told you, to read a newspaper article and think you have a comprehensive understanding of the situation is silly.

            When you go to a Red Cross blood drive, the people in charge are not “blood-thirsty vampires” even though they are encouraging people to give blood and they are involved in extracting blood from people all day long. For some perspective you should check the statistics on people who die or have serious complications from blood transfusions. It is much higher than any of us would like to believe. Despite this nobody makes wild and outlandish accusations against the practice.

            You, Hitchens, and others have taken one tragic incident and turned it into an opportunity for slanderous accusations.

          • (I’m replying here to your comment below where you state “NOBODY in a circumcision ceremony does such a disgusting thing” as there is no reply button below that comment.)

            I’m sorry, I just can’t take you seriously; in fact I’m not sure how you can take yourself seriously.

            To believe what you wrote you would have to believe that the New York Times, the NYC Health Department, the mayor, and a group of Orthodox Rabbis are all colluding somehow to fabricate an outlandish story in order to slander the Jewish religion; further, that this article from 2005 could have survived until now with no challenge to its veracity.

            You have entered the realm of looney conspiracy nuts, and there is no more point in arguing with you than in arguing with Arabs who think that the Mossad brought down the World Trade Center.

          • Moshe Averick

            Lee,

            The fact that you have one tragic incident from five years ago to talk about already tells you what a non-issue the entire thing is. It is much, much more dangerous to get a blood transfusion. If you don’t want to circumcise your son, that’s your decision, but don’t create an artificial issue out of the Jewish brit milah.

            In summation: A brit milah is a 15 second minor surgical procedure that causes no trauma or damage to anybody. Jewish men have done quite well for themselves, despite this “barbaric” practice. If you want to do some good in the world, quit wasting time on this non-issue. There are
            REAL problems in this world that need to be worked on.

            YOu seem to have misunderstood everything that I have written. If someone would start talking about the barbaric practices of Americans who sit and cheer while someone hurls a rock hard object at 95 mph at another human being, while the other guy brandishes a dangerous wood club and swings it around with all his might and also watch and cheer as huge 250 pound men chase another man and slam him to the ground with all their might, you would scratch you head and wonder, “What is he talking about?” All of a sudden you realize he’s talking about baseball and football; i.e. while what he said might not be entirely untrue, at the same time it is a complete lie. What would be your reaction? Your reaction would be the following: “What the hell is your problem?!” That is my reaction to you and Hitchens when you talk about circumcision. Enough, let’s move on to important things.

  • Euan

    Rabbi,

    Have you ever been to the British Museum? It is as illuminating an experience as any I, and I dare say very many people, have ever had. I am an art historian (PhD), and this morning I had the pleasure of interacting with a uniquely fascinating and rewarding object. It is known as the Flood Tablet. I’d wager that you know of it. If not, you should. In intimate and curiously familiar detail it regales its reader with the story of a great, and divinely ordained, deluge. The main character, our hero, is given the task of building an enormous boat by his god and thereafter to load it with his family and animals of the world (*two-by-two*) because the aforementioned flood is about to wipe humanity from the face of the earth.

    Weird, no!!?

    The only slight problem being that our hero’s name is Utnapishtim, the script is written in cuneiform and the tablet predates the earliest known biblical narrative by many many many centuries. In fact the tale relates, as I hope against hope that you are aware, to the Epic of Gilgamesh and, of course, to the lesser known Epic of Atrahasis, both of which can be traced conclusively to at least the third and fourth millennia BC, and most likely many more thousands of years prior to that. This object is symptomatic of a great many others that I have also had the pleasure of holding in my very own hands which shed problematic light on your faith. Thus, far from being a specially-privileged revelation the ‘sacred narrative’ upon which your ‘message’ is so evidently dependent was merely part of a common pool of legend that was shared by the whole Middle East.

    In other words, while I cannot disprove the existence of a ‘creator’ I can with absolute clarity and indisputable and dispassionate impartiality discredit the claim to infallibility that Judaism revels in propagating.

    I would also like you to know that I take great pride in teaching this truth – and I would like to reiterate that word TRUTH for you – to undergraduates and graduates each and every week and month of the year.

    I love it. I love truth. I LOVE TRUTH.

    I say all this not to antagonize you Rabbi but because you yourself purport to have a similar love of truth and a lack of tolerance for fallacy (I have gathered this much from your very detailed critique of Master Hitchens). So I implore you to follow this mantra and seek the truth, even, and especially, if it is inconvenient for you.

    I respect your willingness to be a contrarian and I will respect your opinion whatever it turns out to be. I just hope that it is the right one.

    I wish both yourself and your family health and happiness.

    Warmest regards,
    Euan

    • Moshe Averick

      Euan,

      You are entirely correct about the Mesopotamian flood story. What is even more interesting, though, is that almost identical flood stories are found all over the world as ancient traditions. Are you prepared to consider the possibility that the reason why this tradition is so widespread in such far-flung locations is for the simplest reason at all: Because it is the world-side recording of an actual historical event that for obvious reasons made quite an impact on mankind?

      • Sad4Moshe

        The more likely case is obvious plagiarism, as is the case with many writings of the abrahamic faiths. Even one chapter to the other, on and on ad infinitem, lacking in fidelity and frequently contradicting each other. Remember, they were written by hand on bits of clay or animal skins, etc. by semi-literate, stone age people with competing agendas. That’s why pictures of the Devil look just like the God Pan. The Christians were trying to discredit the older God of nature. Just the politics of Superstition and mind control. And furthermore, assuming your correct, which is crazy implausible on it’s face when factoring in what is currently known about the characteristics of the natural world and its climate, you still have no logical way to leap from there to the Supernatural. Only illogical ways. But go ahead, you’re going to do it anyway.

        • Euan

          Regrettably Rabbi the ‘simplest’ reason of all is precisely the one that Sad4Moshe proposes. The evidence for a worldwide flood is not only very very negligible but it is exceptionally problematic to formulate geologically. Moreover, I’m not going to patronize you by highlighting all of the practical complications of building such an improbable ark, not to mention gathering, fitting and caring for all of the species of this planet within it.

          I’m afraid you cannot expect me to believe unbelievable things simply because of a tradition and practice descended from a sacred narrative that already stands on very speculative ground as I mentioned. To do so would not only be absurd but it would be morally reprehensible to teach to our youth.

          Allow me to reiterate my initial point. I cannot disprove the existence of a ‘creator’ but I can with absolute clarity and indisputable and dispassionate impartiality discredit the claim to infallibility that Judaism revels in propagating.

          You asked me if I was ‘prepared to consider the possibility that the reason why this tradition is so widespread… is the world-side recording of an actual historical event’. I am very willing to consider any, and every, possibility. Let me make that clear. The difference between you and I is that I AM PREPARED TO CONSIDER any hypotheses irrelevant of the source. Truth is never biased. So, in considering such a possibility I think that even if it could be proved to be true it would be more damaging for the credence of Judaism than it would be affirming. It would of course, as you concur, shed new light on innumerable ‘identical flood stories found all over the world’. In so doing it would reveal, in the words of our friend Sad4Moshe, ‘obvious plagiarism’.

          • Mickey

            I strongly agree. You are an excellent writer Euan. Unlike the rabbi your prose is clear, grammatically correct and elegantly constructed. Most crucially despite the fact that the same courtesy is not offered in return you display a level of compassion towards the rabbi that is so admirable.

            A ‘creator’ cannot be disproved, but Judaism certainly can.

            Well done.

          • Moshe Averick

            Euan,

            The notion that the tribes of central americans plagiarized a story from the Babylonians is far-fetched.

            However, at the same time, I agree that a firm belief in the flood story would require more evidence than just the fact that nearly everyone around the world has the same story. On the other hand, you have so far dealt with it by hand waving.

            The purpose of my article was not to prove the truth of the Torah, in fact, as I made it very clear, the purpose of my book was not to prove the truth of the Torah. That is an entirely different subject and an entirely different undertaking. My agenda is the existence of God, the soul, the reality of the non-material/spiritual component of our existence, and that our entire lives ultimately revolve around a quest to seek that which transcends the physical world.

            Once we agree on that, we can argue about the truth or non-truth of the Bible.

          • Moshe Averick

            Mickey,

            I am interested to hear how Judaism can be “disproved.”

  • WobblyDebs

    I may have missed it (I had neither the time nor the patience to read every comment), but has anyone pointed out to you that in the midst of your imaginary book review, meant to shame Hitchens for his sloppiness (among other things), you sloppily wrote the wrong title for Darwin’s best known work?

    • Dear Debs,

      You got me. Instead of writing “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection:Or, the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle For Life”, I shortened it to Origin of Species. If I offended anybody, I apologize.

      • WobblyDebs

        Actually, you didn’t shorten it to “Origin of Species”. You changed it to “Origin of THE Species”. The addition of the definite article is an old and ubiquitous error that makes the plural “species” into a singular, and implies one distinct kind. You’ve probably heard it said that way so many times, you took for granted that that was correct; seemingly the case with Hitchens and his hole-in-the-sheet faux pas.

  • Tim Campbell

    Moshe, you apparently have trouble dealing with logic and science, but let me ask you, very simply:

    Why would a supernatural cause as explantion for a natural phenomena (life, earthquakes, rain) be “obvious”, whereas a natural cause for natural phenomena (chemistry, tectonic plate movement, evaporation and air movement cycle) be absurd?

    Oh, oops. All except the most ardent fundaloon recognizes that tectonic plate movement caauses earthquakes and rain is a NATURAL part of the evaporation and condensation cycle.
    So what about the origin of life? You have no idea, but you claim that God is an obvious answer.

    I have no idea, but I claim that natural causes are the most likely. And you claim that natural causes for natural events are an absurdity.

    Why?

    Because one falls in with your delusion and the other threatens your delusion?

    Or you have witnessed an old man in a robe creating fish and zebras out of dirt and spit?

    Or you realize that if you are wrong, your job is completely meaningless? An empathetic teenager could handle whatever counselling you offer and would not need to resort to “God isd just so darn mysterious!” explanations.

    So what’s the deal Moshareal? Supernatural cause for natural events is obvious: natural causes for natural events absurd? Why????????

    • Tim,

      From Dr. Paul Davies (non-believer,Origin of Life expert, member of the panel at the ASU Origins conference, which featured many of the worlds top scientists including, J.Craig Vener, Sydney Altman, Chris Mckay, Dawkins, etc.)
      “SCientists have fabricated invisible cogwheels, motors the size of pinheads, and electrical switeches as tiny as individual molecules…the burgeoning field of nanotechnology-building structures and devices measured on a scale of billionths of a meter- promises to revolutionize our lives, but nature got there first. The world is already full of nanomachines;they are called living cells. Each cell is packed with tiny structures that might have come straight from an engineers manual. Miniscule tweezers, scissors, pumps, motors, levers, valves, pipes, chains, and even vehicles abound. The various components fit together to form a smoothly functioning whole, like an elaborate factory production line. The miracle of life is not that it is made of nanotools, but that these tiny diverse parts are integrated in a highly organzied way…with a fine tuning and compexity as yet unmatched by any human engineering…how do these mindless atoms know what to do? Somehow collectively, these unthinking atoms get it together and perform the dance of life with exquisite precision.”

      Microbioligist, GEneticist, Michael DEnton (agnostic)
      “[each] bacterial cell is a veritable micro-miniturized factory containg thousands of elegantly designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery…far more complicated than any machine built by man and without parallel in the non-living world. We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had it analogue in the cell:artificial languages and their decdoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control….

      From a world famous creationist (Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden): “After Watson and Crick we know that genes themselves…are living strings of pure digital inforamtion. What is more they are truly digital, in the full and strong sense of computers and compact discs, not in the weak sense of the nervous system. The genetic code is not a binary code as in computers…but a quaternary code, with four symbols. The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal. Our genetic system, which is the uiversal system for all life on the planet is digital to the core…DNA characters are copied with an accuracy that rivals anything modern engineers can do…DNA messages are pure digital code.”

      Dr. Paul Davies: “In a living organsim we see the power of software, or information processing, refined to an incredible degree…the problem of the origin of life reduces to one of understanding how encoded software emerged spontaneously from hardware. How did it happen?How did nature “go digital?”

      Bill Gates (The Road Ahead)”DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”

      Dr. Paul Davies in response to the question, How did life begin? “We haven’t a clue.” Headline of article by John Horgan, senior writer for SCientific American, right after the ASU Origins conference in early 2011:
      “Pssst, Don’t tell the Creationists, but Scientists don’t have a clue how life began”

      The earliest know life form (zero evidence exists that there was anything earlier) a bacterium of one type or another is not a collection of “natural” forces, it is the most fantastic, functionallyt complex MACHINERY that exists on the Earth. It obviously is the result of intelligent intervention, the same way as Mt. Rushmore or a SAnd CAstle.

      Because of the philosophical dilemma of the infinitely regressing series of creators, ultimately there must be a creator who does not need to be created, because the physical laws of cause and effect do not apply to “him”. In other words, a Creator outside of the physical universe, or a Supernatural Creator.

  • Pluto Animus

    It makes no sense to compare the pain experienced by a child being circumcised with that of a child being vaccinated.

    Vaccination confers a benefit upon the child.

    Circumcision confers none. Well, except a wrinkle-free erection, if that’s important to you.

    • Circumcision does convey benefits (even besides the one you mentioned)
      A. There are clear medical and health benefits – I am not going to get into an argument as to whether it is medically necessary, it obviously isn’t, but there are still clear health benefits

      B. It makes the child part of the Jewish Nation, that is most definitely worth it.

      • But why can’t the circumcision be delayed until the child is of a suitable age to make the decision for himself? It may well convey medical benefits not but throughout the history of it being practiced, often it probably didn’t, and in fact crudity with which it would have been done without modern medical science undoubtedly caused countless young boys to lose their lives needlessly.

        • “It may well convey medical benefits not but throughout the history”

          I meant to write “now” instead of “not”

        • Moshe Averick

          Oliver,

          The medical benefits it confers now, always existed. I don’t understand what you mean. You are fabricating when you say it has caused countless young boys to lose their lives needlessly, as is Hitchens.

          No one will force you to circumcise your son. In fact, it is a non-issue. It gives Hitchens something to rant about. It is much, much more dangerous to get a blood transfusion. Nobody in the history of mankind ( with the possible exception of a brief period in Greek history) has achieved what Jewish men have achieved and the difference they have made to the world. I am referring both in the moral/ethical/religious sense and in secular knowledge. Perhaps all men should get a brit milah.

      • Tim Campbell

        In Germany in 1939, being part of the Jewish Nation was not exactly beneficial. In fact, if you take out the ridiculous assertions of being “chosen”, being Jewish has carried a huge amount of baggage and risk.

        In fact, take out the supernatural aspect, and being Jewish is just as meaningless as being Catholic or Lutheran, just with a bit more guilt and dietary restriction.

  • Rabbi,

    The entire justification for Israel’s existence, whomever the cause’s early exponents, is biblical and therefore religious. And whatever the views of the senior Jewish Rabbis it is undeniably Religion that drives both the zionist fanatics and the Islamist terrorists that perpetuate the conflict.

    You talk about a neurotic obsession with religion but in a book that is singly and wholly an anti-religious arguement would it not be slightly odd if he started giving us his opinion on Neil Young.

    Does not your antipathy towards the Islamic Palestines, who were the original occupants of this land not demonstrate Mr Hitchens point exactly that Religion only encourages tribalism and makes common humanism harder and not easier.

    Quoting something once said by one athiest as a way of discrediting Mr Hitchens is simply ridiculous and is the kind of point one would expect from a child. In his books he makes a very developed and, in my opinion, persuasive case for mankind’s innate morality but my question to you is this: if someone were to convert you to Athiesm, something that is probably unlikely, would your first instinct be to embark on a spree of rape, murder and theft?

    • Moshe Averick

      Oliver,

      I don’t need you or anyone else to “justify” Israel’s existence. Israel has a right to exist, and the jewish people have a right to a country as much as anyone in the world. That is not a question that is on the table, period. The fact that you equate Democratic, free, and humane Israel with the vicious, violent Islamic suicide-bombing murderers already seriously calls your judgement into question.

      Re: “Mankind’s innate morality” – In my opinion, Oliver, this is pathologically naive. In the Fiju Island’s it was considered perfectly normal and moral to sit down to an orgiastic barbeque of a dozen cooked human beings. In “civilized” Rome it was as moral to sit and watch men battle to the death and watch people be thrown to lion’s as it is for us to watch a football game. In Gaza it is considered moral to blow yourself up in a cafe to kill Jews, and kill your sister because she held hands with the wrong guy on Saturday night. The so called “innate moral sense” clearly gives radically different messages to different people in different times.

      If tomorrow I became convinced that God does not exist, I would be like every other atheistic philosopher.
      Like Joel Marks, I would embrace amorality
      Like Peter Singer I would believe that there are no intrinsic moral taboos and that nothing is just wrong.
      Like Will Provine, I would believe that free will is a complete illusion and that there is no foundation for morality.
      Like Dawkins, I would believe that there is no right,no wrong, just pitiless indifference
      Like Michael Ruse, I would believe that in objective reality there is no reason not to rape, pillage, and murder, IF IT SUITED ME TO DO SO.
      Like Bertrand Russel I would admit that all ethical values are purely subjective and finally
      Like Jeffery Dahmer I would assert that there really is no compelling reason to change my behavior to suit the demands of society.

      I doubt very much I would go on a crime spree. Just like you, I have been very heavily psychologically conditioned to believe certain values.

      • Rabbi,

        Re: “If tomorrow I became convinced that God does not exist I would be like every other atheistic philosopher”

        Would the moral code “Do onto others as you would have them do on to you” suddenly become devoid of any meaning purely because you ceased to believe in God? Professor A.C. Grayling is someone whom I think you would describe as an athiestic philosopher and like Mr Hitchens he finds the motivation to advocate and attempt to live an ethical life without the threat/encouragement/instruction of a supernatural being.

        Of course there are Athiestic proffessors who may argue to the contrary (although the extent to which some of the ones you have quoted actually are doing so I am unsure of). However it is no more accurate to say this discredits Mr Hitchens arguement than it is to say the war crimes of Ariel Sharon discredit Judaism.

        On Israel’s right to exist I think you misunderstood me if you thought me to be advocating Israel destructrion, it exists and will continue to do so. The problem is the fanatics on both sides (not the entire peoples of either country, and yes I would rather live in Israel than in any other Middle Eastern country) and those fanatics are motivated wholly by religious texts and there fundamentalist interpratation of them.

        • Oliver,

          Professor Grayling, of course, is free to manufacture any system values he wishes. My point is that it has no significance and reality outside of his own head, i.e. his own subjective feelings. For the believer, moral values have actual spiritual/metaphysical existence. They are as real as light waves, electro-magnetic forces and gravity. For the atheist the words “moral” and “ethics” are nothing more than WORDS which are used to describe the type of behavior the individual or society subjectively prefer.

          “Morality is the custom of one’s country, and the current feelings of one’s peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibalistic country.” -Samuel Butler

          This is a simple description of reality from an atheistic/materialist worldview.

          The unspoken message of “ethical humanists” is that we should treat human beings AS IF they have inherent value and preciousness, AS IF they are created in the image of God and have been endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, and not to treat them like the highly evolved bacteria that they actually are. Please remember, from the Darwinian/Atheist point of view you are nothing significant at all. You are to a cuttlefish, what a cuttlefish is to a cockroach.

          • Rabbi,

            “My point is that it has no significance and reality outside of his own head, i.e. his own subjective feelings.”

            But it does, on all those who experience the outcome of his and everyone else’s actions. Maybe we are entirely insignificant poorly evolved mammals; meaning that there is no reward for those who have lived an ethical life and no punishment for those who haven’t. But however upsetting that may be that doen’t mean it isn’t true, you talk about areas of the world where cannabalism was considered acceptable: what better evidence could there be for our imperfect, evoloutionary nature.

            Surely there is no need of any God, and paticualy not one who authorizes genocide in his religious scripture, to give all of us the motivation to live the kind of life that most religions broadly advocate. ie “Do onto others as you would have them to onto you”

      • Tim Campbell

        I have no problem with Israel’s right to exist, nor with the “Jewish people” and their right to a homeland. This DOES have an obvious religious taint to it. A case could be made that if the Jews had done a better PR job back in the Third and Fourth Century, or had worked to assimilate into the Roman Empire, this would have been a moot issue. The Diaspora was the result of an ill-fated rebellion against Roman authority.

        I’m not a fan of Rome, but there is a reason why Jews needed a new homeland in the first place.

        I’m an atheist and I don’t eat people or rape women or do any of the things that you accuse atheists of wanting to do.

        I believe in humanity, human law, and human welfare. And I live my life accordingly. Just without the need for a magic being guiding me or monitoring my behavior.

        To equate atheism with the post-arrest rants of a psychotic serial killer who was influenced by his fundaloon father to make idiotic fundaloon comments is not only unfair, but dishonest.

        Your research methods are just as bad as you claim Hitchens’s to be.

    • Allen Klein

      Oliver,
      Please do yourself a favor and check th history books carefully. Islamic Palestinians were not the original occupants of the land. In fact, the terms Palestinians in a modern term. Before Israel became the Jewish state, it was governed by the British, and before them the Ottoman Empire. This is fact. Besides, if a Palestinian wants to be governed so badly by their own, there is now a Palestinian run government in the land itself. The reason that so many Arabs remain in the Jewish ran section of the land is because they realize that they are better off with a democratic government that truly cares for all citizens- plain and simple. The choice is theirs and they remain. You call that tribalism? Good luck finding a more moral country in the world.

      • Mr Allen Klein,

        The Palestines were the original occupents of a significant part of what was to become Israel. And, due to their alien religion and customs to what suddenly became the ruling power in the region were, and still are, treated as second class citizens, much like the treatment of the Jewish people throughout much of their history. Which is precisely Mr Hitchens point regarding the harm religion can cause.

  • Sad4Moshe

    Moshe,

    Think of the difference between “Believers” and the rest of us as the same as the difference between smokers and non-smokers. Absent any exposure or knowledge of what a “smoker” is, no one could call a non-participant a “non-smoker”. There just simply would be no point of reference. This is analogous to the point a-theists or “not superstitious” are trying to help you understand. It’s the non-smokers who lack the artifice you possess. You toke from the weed of religion, they do not. Accusing those who do not smoke your brand of religion as being less than whole or fulfilled or any other derisive term is just silly on its face. Furthermore asserting that not joining in the act of intentional self-delusion is somehow just a different version of self-delusion clearly does not equate. There is the world of all facts, NONE of which support the existence of your Iron Age, Middle Eastern imaginary God of War, or any other God of superstitious creation you might refer to, and then there are tomes of irrationality and self-congratulatory circular logic that create the house of cards your delusions and the delusions of your ilk clearly rest upon. The saddest truth about this is the lack of regard for here and now that charlatans like you create in the world by peddling your happy everafters) The truth is that if you were truly open minded, the immutable facts would resolve into a perfect clarity of understanding. That’s what it’s like to live a normal life devoid of your or any other brand of superstition. Unfortunately, you have chosen a circular path you don’t have the intellectual courage to exit.

    • Moshe Averick

      Dear Sad,

      Forget about the Bible and Judaism. I give you permission to ignore it. Just prove to me that the first bacterium can emerge from non-life through a purely naturalistic process.

      • Adam

        Moshe,

        that is the point – Hitchens (and others, more qualified to make these statements because that is their field of study) does not have the answer to this question yet. But when you don’t have an answer there is no reason to assume that some magical creature did that and further more to follow the commands of that magical creature as they have been written by humans that claim to talk to him.
        You fail to see that despite the mistakes you found (congratulation on reading so closely, Hitchens will be delighted that you bought the book – more royalties coming in… ), the points he was making stay standing. Try to deal with it and not make the tiring joke about the correlation between circumcised men and Nobel prizes. It is old, stupid and not funny. It shows you have little to say on the subject. making a joke about the mutilation of genitals is low, very low.

      • Sad4Moshe

        God of the Gaps, niiice. And then straight from there to talking bushes, parting the sea, magic candles and the like, I’m sure. Wow, and finally, relying on natural science to disprove the natural. You’ve simply made my case. Well done, Moshe!

  • Sal Monella

    “That which is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” Hitchens

    • fubeca12

      Then atheism suffers a fatal blow by the same sword. Atheists have no better proof of no God than believers have for a God. We have the very order of everything and you have, “no you don’t, prove it by our scientific method”. In fact, for an atheist to accept that there is no God then they need to accept and acknowledge that they are tapping into a divine attribute only God posesses, omniscience.

      Furthermore, once science has reached surety on all subjects then they will possess all knowledge thus in essence become like God able to transverse the universe and inseminate dead planets with the same type of bacteria which started it all here on Earth.

      Just because atheists don’t articulate their own brand of circular logic which ends with them and their scientific minions reaching total consciousness doesn’t mean the vanity of their smug “knowledge” that there is no God doesn’t come full circle when all theories are finally separated from actual to factual.

      The real issue is simply intrumentality, belief in God requires faith to percieve and recognize him and we as believers say you have such intruments within you but due to an unwillingness to set up the conditions by which he can be discoverd in their own lives, Atheists instead try to tear down the apparatus so it cannot be used to bother them I suppose.

      Radio waves for instance, have always existed throughout the imensity of space. Some animals use a form of it for locating, communication etc… yet man only figured it out within the past 200 years, yet they have always existed. Without proper instruments radio waves were mere theories. Staking life, reputaion and existence on the lack of external apparatus that can measure God or spiritual things is foolish too. Even the brilliant Edison was ridiculed into dropping the silly notion that he could observe “etheric force” coming from his telegraph experiemnts. Today, scientists are seeking confirmation for the Higgs Bosun particle, yet no religion is at the forefront denouncing the project or seeking to stifle the theories of these scientists.

      Ironically, modern atheism is now demanding that religion be executed because believers are unable to prove their “theories”. Atheism has become the equivalent of the Catholic church in the middle ages deciding by fiat which theocratic issues bother them the most and judging them on the lack of “evidence”. Galileo and Copernicus are looking down on you with distain.

  • Euan

    I must confess that I very nearly withstood the temptation to respond to your fervid soliloquy Rabbi. Your prose is so excruciatingly and transparently cringeworthy – not to mention ungentlemanly – that the point seemed hardly worth making. However, on behalf of future me – of whom I am an ardent enthusiast and devotee – I wanted to disclose my sincerest hope that many more of your ruminations are to be forthcoming. For as plainly effective as Mr Hitchens’ own writing is, I dare say that even it lacks the peculiar and particular efficiency of your own in reaffirming the belief of a non-believer.

    • Euan,

      Thank you for wishing me well.

      You’ve have also reaffirmed something for me: That most “atheists” are atheists for no rational reason at all.

      • Euan

        Rabbi,

        I’m not sure that I did wish you well. Please accept my most heartfelt apologies. I gladly and gleefully do so now.

        Regarding rationalism: Scio me nihil scire.

        Fondest regards,
        Euan

    • Mark

      “Ungentlemanly”, “sincere”, “hope” – all words that a true non-believing rationalist should eschew.

  • Ed Carroll

    If I could prove that girls who have their clitorises cut off have a slightly lower rate of cancer and a greater chance to win the Nobel Prize, would that be a good enough reason to do it to every single girl born with a clitoris?

    If your answer is no, then stop attempting to justify the mutilation of boys with that same ridiculous argument.

    • Euan

      A very commendable point Ed. Especially telling I think in this instance because you stand alone as the only contributor not to have been afforded a reply by the Rabbi.

      Hats off to you Sir.

    • Moshe Averick

      Ed,

      Have you ever attended a Jewish Circumcision ceremony?
      Have you ever talked to jewish men who are circumcised?
      I defy you to find one who feels that it has traumatized his life in any way or has caused him the slightest difficulty in his life. Just the opposite woman who, sadly, have had their genitals mutilated.

      If you can accept body piercings then you can certainly accept circumcision.

      The fact that you can compare the two is itself proof of the absurdity of your position.

      • david

        I have attended innumerable Jewish Circumcision ceremonies. I find them to be abhorrent.

        I was once a Jewish man and I have been circumcised. I passionately resent that this act of barbarism was conducted without my consent. I am certainly not alone.

        • David,

          Are you actually telling me you remember your circumcision. I simply don’t believe you.
          If nobody had told you it would not have made any difference at all. You are being quite disingenuous. You have created a totally artificial problem in your own psyche.

      • david

        Please do not presume that you can speak on my behalf. I have my own voice and I respectfully claim the right to use it.

      • John

        Yes, Rabbi – I can point you personally to a jew of my acquaintance so unhappy over his circumcision that he chose a surgical foreskin restoration by Dr. Donald Greer in Texas during the early 1980’s – he was one of a handful of men who pioneered the current foreskin restoration movement – I would also point you to current organizations of men professing anger and unhappiness at their MGM as well as those jewish doctors who have written books opposing infant circumcision –

        • Nobody remembers their circumcision. The notion that it traumatizes a child is absolute quackery. If someone decides to “repair” their circumcision, that is their personal decision and be my guest. If you want to pierce your body with pins and needles be my guest.If you want to tatoo your body, it is also a personal decision and be my guest. But the idea that there is something inherently shameful or problematic with being without a foreskin is absolutely pathetic.

          • david

            Honestly rabbi I’m not sure that it is even worth my time responding to you. You clearly do not even read the comments people write to you. At what point did this poor guy (david) write that he remembered his circumcision!!!? To judge by your lack of compassion it seems unsurprising that he left your faith.
            Y
            Moreover, to give your analogy full due – a courtesy you will, I’m sure, be unable to reciprocate – if no one had told

          • David

            …you that you were Jewish it would likewise not have made any difference at all.

            I am eager to see – though no doubt you lack the class to manage it – an apology from you. If not simply for your clearly fallacious claim of being able to ‘defy’ Mr Ed Carroll the possibility of finding ‘one who feels that it has traumatized his life in any way or has caused him the slightest difficulty in his life’, then certainly because such poor, presumptuous and plainly moronic research was conducted and presented at the end of an article in which you yourself accuse someone else of the same faux-pas.

            I urge you to consider your reply carefully rabbi, because I can assure you that the good people at Tradition and Reason are listening.

          • Kevin Burke

            Just passing through here, but just wanted to say that I find it abhorrent that you seem to think it is in any way OK to mutilate the genitals of a child.

            Don’t bother replying – I won’t be back to read it, as an acceptable excuse does not exist.

          • John

            You asked for reference to a jewish man opposed to his circumcision. I gave you one which you ridiculed and belittled. Here is another one which I assume you will also ridicule – however, the point is you now have two jewish men opposed to their infant circumcision. If there are two, there are likely more out there yet to be heard from. If you do a search, my guess is you will ultimately find a significant number – or you can continue to choose to ignore their existence and their dissatisfaction with their circumcised state.

            http://blog.shealevy.com/2011/05/17/an-open-letter-to-mohel-michael-henesch/#comments

            As to your comment concerning pins, needles, and tattoos, you make my point for me. Those are adult decisions made by an individual concerning their own body. (You might run a search on adults currently serving time for tattooing minor children) Many of us agree it is way past time that circumcision becomes, in your words, a “personal decision” made by the adult individual concerning his own penis.

            I find your comment that “the idea that there is something inherently shameful or problematic with being without a foreskin is absolutely pathetic” shockingly lacking in even a basic empathy for another individual’s pain and, well, as you say, “absolutely pathetic”.

            I might add here that I have recently seen some research by biblical scholars which call into question the portion of the Abraham covenant stipulating bris. They say circumcision was not in the original document and simply added later by others for whatever reason was expedient at the time and I trust you also understand that the original circumcision procedure was considerably less severe than the radical amputation and resection practiced today. Seems to me that your entire bris ritual becomes additionally indefensible when not divinely mandated and is simply one of many, many customs and commands instituted by ancient humans that no longer have value or relevance today.

        • Moshe Averick

          John,

          I will not get into the issue of medical benefits of circumcision, it depends on which website you look at.

          I find it sad that Mr. Levy is so upset about his circumcision. I find it even sadder that he was never given a proper Jewish education, just the sham of hebrew school and the bar-mitzvah ceremony that is mostly about collecting checks and having a big party to show off for the community and relatives. For millions of woefully ignorant and uneducated Jews, the bar mitzvah ceremony marked the END of any serious connection to Judaism, when it is supposed to be the BEGINNING of an adult committment to being part of the jewish people.

          The Jewish people is a reality, Jewish history is a unique phenomena in the history of mankind. There is nothing to which it can be even remotely compared. A nation that is statistically non-existent (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of a percent of the population), that has survived endless attempts to destroy it, without a homeland, without a common language, without a common culture, without even a common religion (my religion and the religion of Shea Levy have almost nothing in common), that has transformed the entire world. We are alive and back in our homeland, right smack dab in the center of everything after two thousand years. We are alive, while Egypt, the Hittites, Assyria, Babylon, Arameans, Moabites, Ammonites, Persia, Greece, Rome, Nazi Germany, and the Ussr, have ended up either on the trash heap of history, or as nothing more than museum pieces and tourist attractions. I feel terribly sad that Mr. Levy and many like him do not understand what that covenant means.
          Are you Jewish? Do you understand what it means?

          • Moshe Averick

            John,

            PS, I don’t understand what you are talking about when you describe the current circumcision as “the radical amputation and resection”. It is a 15 second operation, there is not amputation and nothing radical at all about it.

  • Fia

    I would actually consider the one paper by Francis Crick on panspermia to be “flirting”.He would have had to write books on the subject and calling the idea anything but “far-fetched” in order for me to consider him to be
    a proponent of said idea.
    It’s a wholly subjective assesment on both our parts, but that you file that under “Hitchens don’t know science” is laughable.
    Here’s another mistake you make; it matters little what the 747 jumbojet analogy was intended for, as creationist variably use it as an argument against the origin of life AND evolution.To bad Hitchens didn’t include both debunkings but quite telling that you don’t bother to even mention that as an argument it’s completely useless.

    • Fia,

      The original paper by Crick was published in 1973, he also wrote about it relatively extensively in his book Life Itself which came out in the 80’s and again in his foreword to The RNA World. He always talked about DIRECTED Panspermia, the notion that life was deliberately sent here by intelligent aliens, not that it fell off of a comet by chance. The reason he “flirted” (there is a certain subjective evaluation factor about that, I would admit) with DIRECTED panspermia is because of what he (and others) felt was the implausibility of life being able to survive interstellar travel without help. that was my main point. I agree that Crick did not go around fanatically proclaiming this as the truth. In fact, it was really an example of a brilliant man grasping at straws, when trying to reconcile his knowledge of the staggering complexity of the simplest living organism, with his atheistic beliefs that there was no special creation.

      If a creationist would quote the 747 analogy as an argument against evolution, he would be just as guilty as Hitchens. It is a perfect argument against a naturalistic explanation for the emergence of life from non-life. It is rather faulty when used as an argument against evolution. Hitchens either was totally ignorant of the fact that Hoyle was talking about the origin of life, which conceptually is completely different than Darwinian Evolution, or he deliberately misrepresented the argument. Either one is inexcusable.

  • Sparhafoc

    I see you set up the old chestnut about atheism resulting in a life that has no meaning, purpose or value. Did you ever once stop and consider what a ridiculous exposure of your inability to understand your interlocutors that represents? Did it never cross your mind to ask atheists what they think? My life has at least as much meaning, purpose, and value as yours… I am sure I could forward an argument that it has more, by the simple token of it not being basing on pleasant, comforting fantasy.

    • Sparhafoc,

      “BY THE SIMPLE TOKEN OF IT NOT BEING BASED ON PLEASANT COMFORTING FANTASY.”

      If God does not exist then we are here by pure fluke.
      As Stephen J. Gould wrote, “we are here because one group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could turn into legs.”

      All life on earth drowns in an ocean of insignificance when seen against the backdrop of the endless billions of galaxies in our universe. In actual objective reality your life and all other life has no significance at all. As Dawkins put it, “there is no design, no purpose, no good, no evil, only pitiless indifference.”

      No human being can face this truth without experiencing total existential terror. What the atheist does is manufacture some sort of structure out of his imagination and calls it real. (For example: Humanism, Socialism, Communism, Morality,etc.) None of these systems have any actual reality. They mean as much as the individual wants them to mean. You are entitled to live with your fantasy if you choose, whatever floats your boat as they say. You have done the same thing that you accuse the believer of doing.

      The difference between us is that I fully acknowledge that if God does not exist, my beliefs are a fantasy. But if God does not exist, the only question becomes, which fantasy will you choose, to be able to get through life; or perhaps you might decide that it’s a futile waste of time, and take a long walk off a short ledge.

      • Sparhafoc

        “As Stephen J. Gould wrote, “we are here because one group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could turn into legs.” ”

        And where did he derive that piece of information? Do you think he consulted scripture? Did he divine it by ancient magic? Did he perhaps pray for wisdom or attain enlightenment?

        No, of course he didn’t… he’s talking about hard evidence taken directly from the natural world. These fossils need to be explained for the sake of the pursuit of knowledge, not for the sake of disproving mythology.

        That they represent serious contradictions to the creation myths of all earthly religions is not the fault of the scientists locating these fossils. Nor is it the obligation of scientists finding these fossils to jerryrig some appeasing method of explaining them in order to make them fit with all the mutually incompatible creation myths humans have constructed over the millenia. It is a problem for you to address, personally, in the privacy of your own integrity to the truth.

        “As Dawkins put it, “there is no design, no purpose, no good, no evil, only pitiless indifference.””

        Dawkins is talking about the universe not having a purpose, not atheists. Of course we feel purpose and meaning in our lives; we are human are we not? If you prick us, do we not bleed? I have a family, I have friends, I have projects, I have an interest in preserving the environment, I have the universe to learn about. The latter alone will provide me with ample purpose right up until I succumb to the ‘pitiless indifference’ of the universe to my brief mammalian scramblings.

        With luck, I might have made a small difference, or left a mark on my friends or children that will be of importance to them. If not, I will have at least earnestly followed the truth wherever it leads.

        “No human being can face this truth without experiencing total existential terror.”

        Please do not project your own feelings onto me. I’m afraid I grew out of this many years ago. Perhaps your clinging to a higher purpose, of a loving overbeing watching your every move, judging your every action is more symbolic of the ‘existential terror’ that you have not been able to get past. Perhaps it is the cause of your inability to achieve peace with the hard facts of reality. Is it not the mark of a man (and woman) in how they respond to the challenges that beset them? If they shrink from the facts, and hide behind a comforting construct, does this really make the sum of their lives ‘better’?

        “What the atheist does is manufacture some sort of structure out of his imagination and calls it real.”

        How ironic. I don’t manufacture anything with respect to looking at the brute facts of our existence. Instead, I follow the evidence in all earnestness. I studied anthropology because I wanted to know how we came to be. This developed into a passion for knowing about what came before us, and I was rather amazed, having been brought up in the Christian tradition, that our existence on this planet represents a tiny fraction of the diversity of life this planet has experienced. How small you would have us make this world and universe, created only for us, when the facts stand in direct opposition.

        “But if God does not exist, the only question becomes, which fantasy will you choose, to be able to get through life; or perhaps you might decide that it’s a futile waste of time, and take a long walk off a short ledge.”

        Is this the normal discourse for a spiritual leader? To tell their interlocutors to kill themselves? You do yourself no favours speaking to people like that.

        I’ve already explained to you why my life has meaning. The funny thing is that your also share all those points, love of family and friends, desire to make a mark, or to achieve your goals, and to learn more about your existence. So you’ve added a god, big deal – I don’t need one and I find nothing lacking, nothing is smaller or more mundane. On the contrary, the universe is sufficiently mysterious, and the scope far larger and more interesting than the pedestrian recapitulation of bronze age dogma.

        • Sparhafoc,

          Although at some level, I appreciate what you wrote, you still have not addressed the fundamental issue. Your “meaning”, “purpose” and “value” has no significance outside of your own head. That is fine, as long as you don’t pretend it is more than that.

          Your “values” have no more or less significance than the “values” of Josef Stalin, Glen Beck, or Keith Olberman. Different strokes, for different folks.

          This is not anything original. It is the position of nearly every atheistic philosopher on the planet. JUst to name one:
          Michael Ruse has written explicitly that in objective reality there is no reason why we should not rape,pillage, and murder, it that is what suits us. He is honest about this, as are DAwkins, Peter Singer, Micheal Tooley, Will Provine, Joel Marks, Bertrand Russell (“I cannot see how to refute the subjectivity of ethical values..”)etc.

          Hitchens, true to form, is fundamentally dishonest on this issue. He says that anyone who disagrees with his moral values is by defintion a psychopath or sociopath.

          • Sparhafoc

            ‘Your “meaning”, “purpose” and “value” has no significance outside of your own head. That is fine, as long as you don’t pretend it is more than that. ‘

            As I said, it has significance to my friends, family, to the society in which I live, to the few people my passage through life encounters and I leave a mark on in some way (hopefully positively 😉 ). As does yours, and no more than that.

            “Your “values” have no more or less significance than the “values” of Josef Stalin, Glen Beck, or Keith Olberman. Different strokes, for different folks.”

            That’s such an obvious bait towards an emotional reaction. If that is so for me, it is also so for you. There’s no rational connection between your previous paragraph and this one.

            “This is not anything original.”

            Plastic.

            “It is the position of nearly every atheistic philosopher on the planet.”

            Might it not be that you have failed to read ‘every atheistic philosopher on the planet’ incorrectly as you appear to project your own emotions onto others – perhaps that gets in the way of seeing other people’s position clearly. For example, I have just explained to you that little atheist me, a person of no consequence compared to these great and famous names, has in fact got purpose, value and meaning in their life. You have accepted that, but have you really let it sink in to show you that your argument was wrong, was faulty, was devoid of logic? We are all too eager to create ‘us/them’ dichotomies. Meaning, purpose and value are intrinsic characteristics of ALL humans – when you say otherwise, you dehumanise people. That surely can’t be your message?

            “Michael Ruse has written explicitly that in objective reality there is no reason why we should not rape,pillage, and murder, it that is what suits us.”

            Has he? I will have to take your word for that as I have never read anything by him. However, that means nothing with respect to me. I can give you a very simple reason on which ALL human societies operate that express why we don’t rape, pillage and murder…. the golden rule – do unto others as you would have done unto you. That’s the foundation stone of ‘civilization’, how we broke out of being disparate, isolated kin-groups. If we hadn’t followed this basic rule, we wouldn’t be here enjoying the amazing technology that’s the product of a civilized society which lets us communicate over such a huge distance in next to real time. When you dehumanise others, comforting yourself that ‘they’ don’t have purpose, morality, value, etc… you are fighting against this rule… that’s why you know you are wrong, and why you really should have apologised to me for having inferred that my best course of action is suicide.

            As for Dawkins, Singer, Russell – I am familiar with what they’ve written, and they certainly DO NOT say that we should rape, murder and pillage: that’s a misrepresentation. For example, Dawkins would explain human cooperation as a fundamental part of mammalian evolution which has reached its pinnacle in us. Did you not read/see his ‘Nice guys finish first’? – there are very good reasons for this that do not require deference to unsubstantiated supernatural entities.

            “Hitchens, true to form, is fundamentally dishonest on this issue. He says that anyone who disagrees with his moral values is by defintion a psychopath or sociopath.”

            See, that to me looks like you are quoting him… but having heard Hitchens speak a lot on a wide number of issues, I have never heard him even remotely suggest this. Again, I wonder if it is a product of your underlying need to create an us/them scenario where you can blame the atheists for their failings so you can forgive yourself your own.

      • John Lowen

        “As Dawkins put it, “there is no design, no purpose, no good, no evil, only pitiless indifference.”
        No human being can face this truth without experiencing total existential terror.”

        Wow, man, speak for yourself. This life is plenty for me, and I have no fear of death whatsoever. Why would I fear oblivion? Grow up, don’t be such a whiny cry-baby.
        All your arguments are from ignorance (you can’t understand how life could have formed on it’s own, therefore God exists) or from mis-guided sense of entitlement to have some kind of meaning and justice in the universe(it would be a shame if there was no God therefore God exists).
        “As Stephen J. Gould wrote, “we are here because one group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could turn into legs.”
        ..sounds reasonable to me..

      • Blake

        Rabbi:

        “No human being can face this truth without experiencing total existential terror.”

        I have been reading through these comments, and your deplorable presumptuousness to speak for other, and often all, humans is appalling. Still, I held back because you simply spout nonsensical, derivative, fairy-tale based drivel that often has little in common with the comments to which you are pretending to respond.

        But this above comment from you takes the cake. I used to believe in your superstitions with all my heart, because I was brainwashed to do so from childhood. When I reached the age of reason, I began to question these beliefs, just as I began to question the existence of Santa Clause and the tooth fairy at around the same time.

        Of course, it was a tougher sled to drop the yoke of religious dogma that had been hung around my neck. Unlike with my questioning of characters like Santa Clause and the tooth fairy – the falsities of which my parents and other elders were fine with allowing me to realize – the people who were responsible for shaping my mind did not want me to realize the non-existence of your (and any) god. To have let nature take its course and allow logic and reason to flower in this area would be to admit the falsities inherent in their own beliefs in fairy tales.

        Suffice it to say, as it must now be becoming even to one with such a closed mind as you seem to have, I persevered and, thankfully, am now free to live my own life without worrying about some malevolent creator watching over me, reading my very thoughts, and at the ready to throw me into the pits of hell to burn forever if I did not idolize him quite good enough.

        Did you get the most important part of that, Rabbi? It was the word “thankfully.”

        And if you think for a second that you can speak for me – and I am indeed human, and I am not even close to being alone in this – and say that I was or am or will feel terror at having this freedom, then you, sir, can go to hell.

        Nothing, not one thing, has ever even come close to feeling as good, right and real as when I suddenly realized that I no longer had even a remnant of belief in a god.

        Good luck to you living your life swaddled in lies and misunderstandings. Don’t worry about my sending you to hell, either, please. If you ever evolve to a state of non-belief, you’ll understand that the only real hell is your one life being wasted in worship of and belief in a nonexistent being.

        And you’re in it.

  • Tim Campbell

    It has been a while since I read Hitchens’s book so I cannot comment on any inaccuracies that the rabbi asserts. And since I’m not Jewish, I do not have enough familiarity with the customs of Judaism to argue about circumcision.

    But it is interesting to see how atheist disbelief threatens and frightens the religionist. Enough to deliberately misrepresent what atheism is and what atheists really assert. Enough to misrepresent how an atheist would re-write a single passage from the Declaration of Independence (we would write the same words, but would eliminate the reference to a Creator–our rights are SELF-ENDOWED, determined by humans for humans, not given to us by some magic imaginary being hiding somewhere in the sky. If these rights were given to us by God, then why did we have to fight wars in order to attain and keep them?).

    At the end of the day, the rabbi asserts that God does exist. The atheist simply asks for some sort of actual evidence to demonstrate the truth of this assertion.

    None forthcoming, we look at your ancient books and we see a tribal god invented by a pre-scientific people and stories made up and borrowed from the similar stories made up by other pre-scientific peoples.

    We see a world–a universe–that offers natural explanations for virtually every natural phenomenon. The invention of the telescope and the microscope and the prism began the end of the Age of Superstition and lead to the beginning of the Age of Reason.

    This progress of humanity obviously scares people such as the rabbi who earn their living from peddling their pre-scientific nonsense as TRUTH. The belief in God or gods may have been a necessary evolutionary step for humans to take in order to progress from savage to civilized Man, but that those gods were and are imaginary is now more and more apparent. Reason replaces superstition and the rabbi becomes irrelevant. THAT is the real crux of the rabbi’s fear and anger toward atheists. We have made him irrelevant.

    • Tim,

      The point to my article was not to argue for the existence of God. If you want to see my full exposition of, what in my opinion is, the intellectual emptiness of atheistic ideology and the rational case for belief in God, you will have to buy my book.

      I am engaged in intellectual combat with the atheistic world view, not because it “scares” me as you suggest; it is because, in my opinion, it is false. It is also important to note that belief in God does not necessarily mean belief in a particular set of religious dogmas. That would be the issue of divine revelation. It is a completely separate subject.

      In my book, I argue that an examination of the evidence will lead any rational, truth seeking person to a clear belief in God, and actually the burden of proof is on the atheist to show otherwise. I do agree, however, that for belief in divine revelation, the burden of proof is on the one who asserts that a particular document, or particular information is from God.

      RE: The Declaration of Independence: I agree that for the atheist all value of human life is SELF-ENDOWED, meaning it is purely subjective, having no objective reality. That was my point, and that is the quantum-leap of difference between the ineherent, transcendent,infinite value of human life as a being created in the image of an infinite, transcendent God, as opposed to a flukey arrangement of atoms and molecules.

      • Tim Campbell

        Sorry, Rabbi, where you make your first wrong turn is in declaring that there IS an “atheistic ideology”.

        That atheism is part or a humanistic view of our species is unquestioned. But there are conservative atheists (though not many) as well as liberals atheists.

        For about the ten millionth time, let me say that atheism is simply a disbelief in tribal gods.

        For most thinking atheists, “I don’t know” is a legitimate answer to questions about the origin of life itself or the origin of the energy state that lead to the Big Bang. Legitimate because while we may make guesses–wild guesses–we know that those guesses are most likely wrong. That is why we call them guesses rather than TRUTH.

        The religious BELIEVER makes the same wild guess, declares that his wild guess of a supernatural magic being hiding above the clouds–but just below the ISS–is real and is TRUTH.

        “transcendent God as opposed to a FLUKEY arrangement of atoms and molecules”

        It is not this nebulous being that most atheists object to. It is the leap that believers make from a being capable of putting in motion the processes that result in intelligent self-aware organisms to a jealous, loving, brutal, merciful, wrathful, basically HUMAN tribal god. One that sends floods and diseases, forgives sins (how can such a being actually be offended by such little things as us having sex?), stops the sun so that one minor brutal tribe has more time to kill, demands that men collecting firewood on “His” Day be stoned to death, and so on.

        I simply do not believe your claim that any of your ancestors actually held face-to-face conversations with any supernatural beings. I do not believe that any of your ancestors spent weekends cruising the Med inside big fish. I do not believe that any of your ancestors ever returned from the dead.

        When Iook at the fantastical stories in the OT as well as the NT, my BS meter starts pinging like a sub’s sonar seeing an incoming torpedo.

        I don’t think I’ll be buying your book. Your posts here have caused enough of a pinging in my ears! But thanks for the offer!

        • Tim,

          You seem not to have read my first reply to you. I made it very clear that the eminently obvious conclusion that life is the result of an intelligent act of creation does not necessarily mean the God of Abraham. There are only two choices how life began, either a natural unguided process, which seems as absurd as thinking that a natural unguided process could produce a sand castle, or a creator who is outside of nature.

          That is the beginning of the discussion, not the end. Who this creator is, what he wants from us , if anything,is an entirely different discussion. Belief in revelation is an entirely different discussion. My book deals with the existence of God the creator, the existence of the soul, and a spiritual reality to human existence. It does not claim or deal with any specific religious dogmas.

          I would not expect you to believe in a revelation at Mt. Sinai unless you were presented with very good reasons to believe it. I happen think there are very good reason to believe it, but that is not the issue on the table here.

          Just one other comment: How can such a being object to little things,like having sex?

          First of all, if God does exist, without revelation you have no idea what he wants or doesn’t want either way. If he DOES want something from us, it would not be unreasonable at all to suggest that he might demand certain types of sexual discipline. Our government makes laws about sex, we have certain types of very strong societal taboos about sex. Many people, particularly woman, are shredded by sexual exploitation. I don’t mean forced prostitution, I mean just the rampant sense of promiscuity that pervades our society. Men seduce and use women all the time. Would it be strange to say that God
          “cares” about that?

          Sex is rather important, it literally keeps the human race alive. That is not a small thing.

          • Randall Slonaker

            The rabbi correctly states that,”Many people,particularly women, are shredded by sexual exploitation.” So are we to use the ancient Jewish scriptures as a guide as to how to protect women?
            Your esteemed Moses “gave” virgin female prisoners of war to his soldiers to use as they pleased. Your esteemed Solomon had thousands of concubines who served only as instruments of his sexual pleasure.
            Then again, maybe not-there is no credible evidence that either of these men ever existed.

          • Tim Campbell

            “There are only two choices how life began, either a natural unguided process, which seems as absurd as thinking that a natural unguided process could produce a sand castle, or a creator who is outside of nature. ”

            Actually I have read your replies.
            You make the above assertion, but you insert your own conclusion, that a natural unguided process is absurd.

            What makes a natural unguided process absurd, other than your own wish that this be so?

            If the observation of a phenomena is difficult for you to understand, then that penomena must necessarily be the result of a supernatural being’s deliberate actions? Why would this be any less absurd, especially given that so many processes that were once thought to be the result of a god’s actions have turned out to have completely natural explanations and thus completely natural causes.

            Evaporation cycle causes rain. SDome parts of the land get lots of rain; some get very little. This is determined by a combination of air currents and geography. Is the “Hand of God” necessary here? Has there ever actually been a correlation verifiable and demonstrated between the behavior of the people living in one that gets a lot of rain versus the behavior of people living in arrid lands?

            Of course not.

            As with most frightened theists, you use terms like “eminently obvious” to describe something that is far from obvious. If the existence of gods was actually obvious, why then are very intelligent and curious and educated and rational people saying “no, I do not believe that these beings are real, and I insist that you provide evidence before I live my life according to your dictates.”?

            We fought a number of wars in order to defeat the idea of top-down divine-right rulers.

            Of course, the existence of God is neither obvious nor supported by any actual evidence. the best you have is the argument that “this is too complicated form my little brain so I’ll just insert a magic being and go ride my bike.”

            Fortunately for every child who has been cured of a disease, there have been a number of courageous men and women who pushed ahead and found real answers and real cures.

            Tim Campbell

        • Tim,

          Is it absurd to suggest that anything other than an intelligent creator constructed the sand castle, and it is absurd to suggest that anything other than an intelligent creator constructed the bacterium. I don’t understand why this is problematic.

          If the SETI scientists received a morse code message from a distant galaxy requesting information about our genetic code, nobody would say: WEll we don’t KNOW that intelligent beings sent this message. It would be clear proof of intelligence from another galaxy. Only someone who had entirely lost their connection with reality would assert anything else, in other words if they suggested a naturalistic cause, it would be absurd.

          • Tim Campbell

            2:12 pmTim,

            Is it absurd to suggest that anything other than an intelligent creator constructed the sand castle, and it is absurd to suggest that anything other than an intelligent creator constructed the bacterium. I don’t understand why this is problematic.

            Of course it is not absurd. You CONCLUDE that the bacterium is too complex to have evolved from even simpler organisms. YOU conclude this because this idea is either A. too complex for you to understand, or B. contradicts your WISH for an intelligent creator to be involved.

            You continue to maintain that a natural process is an absurdity, but a magic being is not an absurdity. I would say that both are equally absurd and both equally possible. BUT we have seen natural processes involved in every step of evolution and in every other aspect of observed reality.

            We have NOT seen any evidence that supernatural beings have been involved with any of these processes. Why therefore should we accept supernatural intervention where none has ever been previously detected.

            Before you go further in your anti-evolution, anti-science, anti-atheism proclamations, you might want to read current scientific literature. Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True would be a good starter. Evalyn Gates EINSTEIN’S TELESCOPE as a starter on current astrophysics. Lawrence Krauss’s ATOM would help you to begin to understand the processes that have resulted in the current state of the universe–including us.

            If you wish to imagine a supernatural being supervising or guiding this series of complex and natural processes, that is your right.

            But there is nothing obvious or necessary about this divine supervisor. And an intelligent creator is just as absurd to me as natural selection apparently is to you.

            My advantage is that the stuff that engineers and medical researchers come up with based on modern science works.

            Haven’t seen any mountains moved by prayer lately. Have you?

      • Blake

        Rabbi,

        It is your god(s), and the belief in them that has no objective reality. Perhaps you need a lesson in what objective means:

        Verb:
        1. Of or having to do with a material object.
        2. Having actual existence or reality.
        3.
        a. Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices: an objective critic.
        b. Based on observable phenomena; presented factually: an objective appraisal.

        Noun:
        1. Something that actually exists.

        These are the relevant definitions of objective. You are confusing it with subjective, which is what faith is…Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence; Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance.

        Subjective means:

        Adjective:
        1.
        a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
        b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.
        2. Moodily introspective.
        3. Existing only in the mind; illusory.
        4. Psychology Existing only within the experiencer’s mind.

        You only make yourself sound, quite unnecessarily, ever more foolish when you don’t even have a simple grasp of the meanings of the words you use in attempting a continuation of your deceptions.

        Not sure why I’m helping you with this. Must be my innate goodness, even though I believe you and your kind (religionists, I mean, don’t try to make me out to be anti-Semitic) to be the biggest force for evil existing in the world today.

        Oh, and thanks for your unbelievably condescending permissions I see you giving to us nonbelievers throughout your polemic diatribes. Here, I am being sardonic.

        This lesson is over.

        • Moshe Averick

          Blake,

          I am quite aware of the difference between objective and subjective. It is my position that God actually exists, that is to say that the objective reality is that there is a supernatural creator. You are free to disagree.

          Thank you for sharing your own SUBJECTIVE feelings about belief in God, religion, and your own personal journey. I can’t really respond to anything you said, since you weren’t offering any arguments based on reason or logic. Your personal emotions are what they are.

          If you wish to point out any flaws in my reasoning or logic, or present a counter-argument, I will do my best to respond.

        • Moshe Averick

          Blake,

          PS Belief in God, spirituality and the soul are not the same as believing in a particular set of religious dogmas.

  • David Edwards

    So, where is that evidence for an invisible magic man again? We’ve been waiting for 5,000 years for supernaturalists to deliver the goods on this one, and all we’ve heard so far is yet more blind assertions (on top of the blind assertions contained in their favourite mythologies) and apologetic hot air. When are we going to see some substance for a change? A trite “read my book” will be counted as an evasion. Here’s a clue for our good rabbi: if he genuinely had real evidence for his magic man, he’d be joining those other Jews who possess shiny gold medals featuring an embossed relief of a certain former dynamite manufacturer, and the world’s scientific journals would be queueing up to print his findings. That this isn’t happening tells those of us who paid attention in science classes something important.

    Oh, and our good rabbi might want to learn what atheism actually IS, before erecting the tired old “atheism is a belief” trope that we’ve all been bored out of our skulls with by supernaturalists.

    Finally, if our good rabbi wants to accuse Hitchens of fabrication, all well and good. It’ll be fun watching the resulting defamation suit play out in court. It’ll be even more fun when Hitchens, upon seeing this, delivers his usual excoriating demolition of the canards erected above.

    • David,

      The argument between believers and skeptics about belief in God has been going on a long time. The Talmud records these types of debates between rabbinic sages and Greek and Roman skeptics from well over 2000 years ago. Just because the debate has been going on for a long time does not prove one side or the other. Either God exists or he doesn’t. It is my thesis that a lack of “determination to confront truth” is the problem, not the evidence. Of course, you would say the same of me.

      The simplest evidence for the existence of God the Creator is life itself. The simplest living organism that is known to have existed is a bacterium. A bacterium is on the level of functional complexity beyond anything that human technology is capable of manufacturing. How did it get there? What does science have to say on this issue? AS Dr. Paul Davies put it ,”WE haven’t a clue.” The obvious, staring-you-in-the-face answer is that life was the result of an intelligent creator.

      The burden of proof is on you to show that it could have happened through a purely naturalistic process.
      I elaborate on this idea in detail for nearly 80 pages in the book, I can’t repeat it all here.

      • cowalker

        “The burden of proof is on you to show that [a bacterium] could have happened through a purely naturalistic process.”

        Equally the burden of proof is on you to show that bacteria were created by a supernatural creature for a purpose, if you want to convince someone to believe in a God that has a meaningful relationship to humans. Don’t you see that bacteria and humanity–even our known universe–could be a byproduct of something completely beyond our imagination? And how does it make sense to assume that a supernatural creator shares the human trait of having purpose to its actions? What is the point of projecting our experience of the natural world into the supernatural realm? Such speculation is pointless. Our utter lack of data in this area is the reason for the differences between religions. The similarities grow out of our common experience as humans.

        You’re presenting the old God of the Gaps argument with the origin of life as the sticking point. If we discovered how to engineer a bacterium would you just pull back to the claim that obviously matter and energy were created by a supernatural being for a purpose? It’s dangerous to make an argument that depends on incomplete scientific knowledge, although you’re probably safe from refutation within your lifetime.

        • Mike

          “Equally the burden of proof is on you to show that bacteria were created by a supernatural creature for a purpose, if you want to convince someone to believe in a God that has a meaningful relationship to humans”

          I would argue more strongly than that, and say the burden of proof lies entirely on the proponent of the “God did it!” “answer” to any tricky question. Science, by it’s own admission, makes no claims on which the burden of proof yet lies regarding the origin of life.

          People (through the scientific method) are looking for the origin of life, but haven’t found it yet, and freely admit that, and aren’t claiming knowledge they can’t possible have – how is that something to deride?

          While science searches for the origin of life it’s also trying to come up with plausible theories that can be TESTED against any evidence that might be found, or help direct the search in hope of finding an answer, and which will be REJECTED if they do not pass such tests.

          BUT while the origin of life is currently a mystery, there is absolutely an answer to how complex life would have emerged – even bacteria – out the simpler forms of life it came from… and it’s called evolution (well, technically I think it’s called the modern evolutionary synthesis now)

          If the Rabbi is interested there are lots of easily accessible books on the topic; I can heartily recommend On The Origin of Species for one… it’s a very old book, and I hear he gets most of his information that way 😉 (cheap shot, I know, but funny?(ish) no? sorry!)

          • cowalker

            I am mystified that believers think they have gained a point when non-believers concede that we cannot prove that “God didn’t do it.” Where do you go from there? There might be a natural or supernatural entity that produced the materials that resulted in our universe. Was it deliberate? If so, what is the goal? Was this creature also created?

            You can imagine any fantasy you like to explain the universe, but that is all it is until you devise tests confirming it that produce evidence others can evaluate. Scientists examine natural processes to see how much we can explain without resorting to supernatural means. Why give up and haul in the supernatural at this particular time?

      • Tim Campbell

        No, rabbi, the burden of proof is no longer on “us” to show that life could have originated through natural processes.

        You see, we have shown again and again that events and phenomena that were previously attributed to the actions of supernatural beings are very explainable through verifiable natural processes. That we have not uncovered the answers to EVERY question in the approximately 500 years that we have been doing “secular” science simply means that we have not gotten there, YET.

        The burden of proof NOW lies with the claimant of supernatural causes. We’ve taken earthquakes, stars, volcanoes, galaxies, mountain-building, disease, and obesity away from the “gods”. You’ve been retreating ever since the Galileo fiasco, so now we say to you: “put up or shut up”. Your own Messiah never showed. The Christian Messiah is so based on other myths that that story is ridiculous. And he never showed either in 2000+ years, in spite of continuous claims that the Rapture and the Return are “just around the corner”.

        Just because human technology has not advanced to the point of being able to produce life, does not mean that over billions of years life could not develop through natural processes. It’s a big-butt universe and the chemicals necessary for lilfe are highly abundant throughout this universe. We may be alone; we may be just one of billions of carbon-based life forms that have developed through natural processes. Right now, currently, as of today, we are a sample case of one. Any conclusions that you or I might make based on this single sample are meaningless. See, I can say “I don’t know”.

        I’m NOT afraid of being part of a natural process. And I have no problem with my morality being bottom-up (devised by humans) as opposed to top-down, especially as the top-down is really the claims of other humans to be acting as a conduit of instruction from their invented magic beings.

        As long as you are going to take the “God” hypothesis and derive from that the claim that you and you alone (or other “chosen” or “special” people) are this being’s conduit, and are going to then tell me what I can or cannot do, what I can or cannot think, the burden of proof is on you.

        I can show you how my morality is derived from a desire to see humanity progress and thrive. I can show you the gray areas that require more consideration than others. I can understand and appreciate the difficulties in determining what is best for humans. Yours is entirely based on the instructions of HUMANS who claim to be speaking for God. As an atheist, I simply question those claims.

        Tim Campbell

        • Tim,
          I will confine my remarks to what you wrote about the origin of life. Your position is what I call “ATheism of the Gaps.” You posit an absurd idea that has no empirical basis in reality or human experience; namely that something as functionally complex as the molecular machinery of a bacterium and its fully digitally controlled information system (DNA) which stores, retrieves,decodes, and copies encyclopedic amounts of digital information, could be the result of an unguided process.

          The idea is so ridiculous that it can be rejected out of hand. There is no other equivalent machinery where you would make such a suggestion. Why here? Only because the idea of a creator makes you uncomfortable.

          If you present me with empirically demonstrable, conclusive evidence that such a thing is reasonably possible, then we can talk. To date, nothing even remotely approaching that exists, in fact, the evidence is to the contrary (which is exactly what we would expect it to be for such a ridiculous idea,) In the meantime the burden of proof is on you.

          You expect me to have FAITH in science and scientists that they will miraculously find an answer. This is your atheism of the gaps. You choose to believe that science will find answers to all questions. This, of course, is a leap of faith. (If they do, contact me)
          You are entitled to your Faith, it is protected by the constitution.

          • Tim Campbell

            No need for any faith in science to find “the answer”. Might never find it.

            Your assertion that DNA is some sort of DIGITAL decoder unecessarily changes what DNA acutally is.

            There is no digital information in DNA. It is a very complex subject, but the cell is not a computer.

            Your assertion of Atheism of the Gaps is as silly as your own God of the Gaps.

            Simple fact is that we continue to find and demonstrate natural causes for natural events and natural phenomena. YOU are the ones who are retreating. There will always be gaps in the knowledge. That is ok. We do not claim to know everything. we do not claim that we will ever know everything. We find three more questions for pretty much every question that we DO answer. That is the best part of science.

            We don’t stop doing science because we have reached a point where we can lazily insert a supernatural being. such an easy answer, that YOU people have been throwing out there for the past 50,000 years or so. Anything to justify you calling yourself a rabbi and claiming to be a conduit for imaginary beings.

            Big noise: God
            Smoke: God
            Ground shake: angry God
            River rise: angry God
            River nice: happy God
            Child cough and die: angry God
            Dream about dead child: God send dead kid with message.

            Crazy Joey says he gets messages from God: Joey must be getting messages from God.

            Bacterium too complex for rabbi to understand: must be made by God.

      • David Edwards

        Oh dear, not the “life is too complicated for me to understand how it arose, therefore a magic man must have done it” trope. Tell me, have you actually bothered to read any of the relevant scientific literature in the field? Or do you just assume that said literature does not exist?

        Plus, since YOU are the one asserting that your invisible magic man was responsible, YOU are the one with the burden of evidential support, not me. Now, where is that evidence for your magic man again?

    • Lion IRC

      @ David

      Christopher Hitchens’ counter apologetic work is full of the type of canards you (monotonously) assert against almost anything I see you post so easy does it with the sanctimony.

      The most compelling book I have read about atheism in the last 12 months is by PETER Hitchens.

      I look forward to reading Moshe Averick’s book.

      Lion (IRC)

      • Moshe Averick

        Lion,

        Thanks for the encouragement, it gets lonely in the trenches here sometimes.

        DaBigQ
        You are a really clever guy.

        • Adam

          Happy it is lonely in your trenches, goes to show that your ‘army’ does not have the ‘ammunition’ needed for the ‘fight’.

          Bottom line is – believe in god or any other mystical being if it makes you feel good or even if it only just feels right. By all means. But do not try to claim that you ‘know’, because you can’t really. and do not assume that anyone that does not share your opinion about the subject is a deviant and lives a life of immoral existence. That only shows that you are afraid of what you would do if you didn’t have the policeman in the sky.

          I wish you are fine day/evening from the bottom of my heart. Really, I do.

        • Lion IRC

          “Lonely in the trenches”?

          Nope.

          Whenever I see apologists for theism in Atheist forums (fora) they are usually getting mobbed – not ignored.

          Look around you.

          Well done!

          And well done to people like Mr Hitchens and Mr Dawkins. They have done more to generate discussion about God than any living theist could ever hope to achieve on their own.

          Do you really think Screwtape and Wormwood would approve?

          People become atheists (non-stamp collectors) gradually by NOT thinking about stamps.

          Lion (IRC)

        • Skutter

          Moshe Averick,

          I wouldn’t get excited about Lion IRC’s support. He’s a Christian and therefore believes that because you reject JC as God, you are going to spent a while (eternity in fact) in the lava Jacuzzi.

          If he’s right, you’ll have plenty of company – Muslims, Buddhists, Scientologists, non-stamp collectors. Mostly all good and honest people who have had the misfortune to have been born to the wrong parents and\or wrong location and were taught about the wrong god.

          But then again, if the Muslims are correct, you and Lion IRC can have a good chat.

          Sooooo many gods and variations thereof. Which one to choose?

  • Sparhafoc

    The true face of Rabbi Maverick. Well, we atheists are charitable folk – we can forgive him shoving in the boot to boost his book’s sales.

    • Moshe Averick

      Tim
      You are simply mistaken, DNA contains digitally encoded information. This is an acknowledged fact.

      I never said the cell is a computer, I said that the info in DNA is digital information. In fact the cell is more complex than any computer human technology can produce.

      You didn’t address the basic argument. The sand castle obviously is the result of intellegent intervention, the bacterium is obviously the result of intelligent information.

      No one ever said you should stop doing science. What you should stop doing is having FAITH in Scientific Naturalism, that everything must (as an article of Faith) have a naturalistic explanation. The best explanation for the bacterium is intelligent creation, not a naturalistic emergence. It flies in the face of all the evidence and all of human experience.

      • Tim Campbell

        Horsecrap. You have made up/invented a creator where none is needed.

        You said:

        DNA contains digitally encoded information. This is an acknowledged fact.

        By whom is this acknowledged? DNA involves four separate acids working together in specific pairs. This is an ANALOG process, not digital. A digital process involves electric switches being either on or off. A GENE may be switched on or off, but that too is an analog process. DNA is not turned on or off.

        Please read some modern biology.

        Never said that everything MUST have a naturalistic explanation. Said that everything that we have uncovered SO FAR has a natural explanation. Thus it is an easy conclusion to say that what we uncover tomorrow will MOST LIKELY have a natural explanation.

        Faith is belief without evidence. I do not accept scientific ideas that are not supported by actual evidence. I can accept that a naturalistic explanation or “wild idea” CAN be true, but the less the evidence, the less acceptable such an idea would be.

        You said:
        The best explanation for the bacterium is intelligent creation, not a naturalistic emergence. It flies in the face of all the evidence and all of human experience.

        Again, why would intelligent creation be a better explanation?
        you are however lying when you say that naturalistic emergence flies in the face of all the evidence. All of the processes that we have seen so far in the universe have had naturalistic explanations. The development of bacterium may be an unanswered question, but why would this be an unnatural development and thus become one unnatural development out of millions of events that are ALL natural developments.

        Obviously, the title of rabbi has exempted you from having to learn anything.

        • Tim Campbell

          Oh, and btw, DNA is completely made out of natural elements. Matterials that are available here on Earth and in abundance throughout the universe.

          What DNA does is a natural process of controlling cells.

          That this process came about over billions of years is unsurprising and certainly not absurd.

          Here is what I would propose to you:

          If the Universe is less than 10,000 years old, then yes, evolution and naturalistic processes are absurd. It is impossible for the universe and us to evolve in 10,000 years.

          But if the universe is more than 12 BILLION years old, then the intelligent designer/creator is absurd. Not needed, not practical. Any intelligent creator who has billions of years to work with would presumably be intelligent enough to think of evolution as being an excellent labor-saving process. Unless of course, you are of ther sort that thinks that this incredible being actually planned for YOU to exist here and now, and planned for YOUR existence trillions of years ago. Now THAT is absurd!

          So the issue is simply one of time. 10,000 years, evolution is impossible. 10 BILLION years, God is unnecessary and irrelevant.

          Tim Campbell

      • Tim Campbell

        You said:
        “You didn’t address the basic argument. The sand castle obviously is the result of intellegent intervention, the bacterium is obviously the result of intelligent information.”

        Ok. The sand castle is NOT obviously the result of intelligent intervention. The sand castle is a human construct that we know is a human construct because we have seen many many other examples of such a human construct and have witnessed humans building sand castles.

        But a small child can build a sand castle with a simple pail and shovel that will be a sand castle, but will lack the complexity and sophistication of “design” that would be contained in a series of sand dunes. Or in a rock formation that appears to be a face.

        To say that the bacterium is “obviously the result of intelligent information” is completely false. YOU are claiming this to be obvious when it is not at all obvious. The bacterium shows a resemblance to a design, just as the rock formation shows a resemblance to design. But anyone can see the difference between a sand castle and a sand dune, or a rock formation and the sculptures on Mount Rushmore.

        The bacterium could have been created by an intelligent creator, but could just as easily have developed from the right combination of elements and environment. There is nothing obvious about either explanation except that we have never seen any evidence that this creator actually existed, let alone existed in the from of a biblical tribal god. How provincial? Do you also believe that one of your ancestors spent his weekends cruising the Med inside a big fish?

        You can’t handle evolution, but you’re good with talking snakes and the sun stopping (actually the earth would have had to stop–apparently the divinely inspired writers of the bible did not get the earth-orbits-sun memo-was Yahweh drunk that day and forgot? ) so that a small tribe of thugs and murderers had more time to kill?

      • Tony Murphy

        Oh dear. Yet another who thinks that the map is the terrain.

        DNA is not digitally coded information. That we can treat it as such, and that such a treatment has value in aiding our understanding, is not indicative of it actually being so. Under this cretinous logic, a map of Jerusalem is Jerusalem itself.

        DNA is simply chemicals, obeying universal rules in their reactions governed by their environment.

        I’d go and learn some things about DNA before you expose your abject ignorance in public in this manner.

  • Jeff

    We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and have been endowed with unalienable rights, and among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I don’t see the Declaration of Independence as a compelling example when, with the extraction of three words, the same statement has now been made without a creationist take.

    The heart of the matter is ultimately the complete lack of hard evidence for either side. The weakest point for any faction of belief is precisely that where you must begin to believe on faith rather than evidence. If you haven’t watched Christopher Hitchens debate Dinesh D’Souza, do so. Both men provide very enlightening, intelligent rhetoric for their respective corners. Thank you for your time.

    • I appreciate you comments, but I strongly disagree with you that there is no hard evidence for either side. I don’t think it is possible for a rational, truth seeking person to deny the existence of God upon a thorough examination of the evidence. Of all the atheists who present their case, I think Hitchens has the lowest level of intellectual potency. He does however, have a certain flair, and an admirable command of the english language. In my opinion, he is long on form, short on substance.

      • Local Bro

        “…endowed by THEIR creator,” says nothing about a Judeo-Christian god nor any other god. That’s why they put “THEIR” in the phrasing. It’s up to the individual to choose. I was created by a couple of awesome people, nothing mythological.

        • Moshe Averick

          Local Bro,
          You aren’t seriously proposing that the founding fathers meant “parents” when they talked about being endowed by their “Creator” with unalienable rights, are you?

          Get real, man

      • Tim Campbell

        Again, WHAT evidence? The universe exists, therefore God? Rain falls, therefore God? I see beauty, therefore, God?

        These are ARGUMENTS. ASSERTIONS. CLAIMS.

        NOT evidence!!!!!!!!

        I heard a voice coming from my toaster oven instructing me to give instructions to the people of Earth. God? Or schizophrenia?

        There is a good reason why “god” has been debated for hundreds of years. No evidence for his existence has ever actually been given. None. Zero.
        We have claims; we have fill-in-the-blanks postulations by self-styled philosophers and theologians; we have hearsay testimony, and we have typological stories. But not a single shred of actual evidence.

        ALL beliefs regarding the existence of this being are based entirely upon acceptance of the veracity of these unverified and unverifiable claims.

        My belief in science as a method for discovering the true nature of the universe is based on verifiable results. MY GPS device works, therefore Einstein’s General Relativity must be correct. Polio, Measles, and other often-fatal childhood diseases have been almost eradicated; therefore the scientific basis for the causes and cures for those diseases (modern biology based on modern evolutionary theory) must be correct.

        When stuff works, the science behind that stuff must be correct. When the BS meter pings, there must be BS in the vicinity. When I read the stories in the bible, my BS meter pings constantly.

        Tim Campbell

      • Tony Murphy

        What evidence would that be, then? I note that you have not met the challenge put to you above by David Edwards, except with more evasive, rhetorical guff.

        Not that I’m surprised, of course. This is part of the standard aetiology of the supernaturalist.

  • “Can Omniscient God, who knows that future, find the Omnipotence to change his future mind”? (chuckles)

    • Moshe Averick

      Dear Nut,

      As Dr. Paul Davies has put it, there is no such thing as “before” the big bang, because that was the beginning of time. Try wrapping your head around that one. “Where” did the big bang occur? It occured nowhere, there was no space. Equally as incomprehensible.

      God created time, he does not exist in time. If he did, your question would be interesting, but he doesn’t, so it isn’t.

      • Tony Murphy

        Paul Davies is erecting a claim that is not supportable by science. Very few cosmologists take seriously the idea that the big bang was the beginning of time.

        Alan Guth, formulator of the currently most widely-accepted model for cosmic instantiation, tells us:

        “So far, it’s been made to sound, I think for the purposes of simplifying things, that until the cyclic model, all scientists had believed that the big bang was the origin of time itself. That idea is certainly part of the classic theory of the big bang, but it’s an idea which I think most cosmologists have not taken seriously in quite a while. That is, the idea that there’s something that happened before what we call the big bang has been around for quite a number of years… In what I would regard as the conventional version of the inflationary theory, the Big Bang was also not in that theory the origin of everything but rather one had a very long period of this exponential expansion of the universe, which is what inflation means, and, at different points, different pieces of this inflating universe had stopped inflating and become what I sometimes call pocket universes.”

        He goes on to say:

        “What we call the Big Bang was almost certainly not the actual origin of time in either of the theories that we’re talking about. … The main difference I think [between the inflationary theory and Neil and Paul’s theory] is the answer to the question of what is it that made the universe large and smooth everything out. … The inflationary version of cosmology is not cyclic. … It goes on literally forever with new universes being created in other places. The inflationary prediction is that our region of the universe would become ultimately empty and void but meanwhile other universes would sprout out in other places in this multiverse.”

        Sometimes, it helps to actually know what you’re talking about.

        If your book contains arguments of the quality I’ve seen here, and you find them convincing, no wonder you believe such drivel.

  • Philippe Lemaire

    Dear Moshe Averick,

    It’s simple really. You don’t like the atheistic worldview, well tough s$#t, it doesn’t make your religion true.

    Now all you have to do for us to take you seriously is to prove that there is a god. Bonus points if it happens to be the god you believed in all along, but we will go with Thor if you prove he’s real.

    Until then, you just stop making a fool of yourself.
    Regards,
    Phil

    • Phillip,

      Thanks for sharing your concern for my personal image.
      I don’t like the atheistic worldview because it is clear to me that it is false. The point to this particular article was not to prove the existence of God. It was a statement about Hitchens’ approach to presenting atheism.

      If you have any serious interest in my approach to belief in God, you can either read my book, look at some of my earlier articles on this site, or google my name and see other articles that I have written.

      I agree that just because someone doesn’t like something, it does not make it false, and does not make “my religion true.” The same applies to you.

      It would be interesting if you would actually address some of the issues I raised in the article.

      • Philippe Lemaire

        Moshe,

        The points you raise are vastly ridiculous.
        Let’s take one: atheists have no moral values. Your evidence: you quote two atheists.
        Do you realize atheists have no leader, no authority on each other, and that the thoughts of two atheists on one issue does not mean that most atheists share these views?

        Secondly, in your reply to me, you made the false equivalence that atheism is just another religion. Are you really that dishonest or do you just not get it? Atheism is not a religion, it makes no claim about how the universe works. It’s just the position you get to when you examine all the gods humanity has made up, and find no convincing evidence that these gods are real.You are yourself an atheist when it comes to Zeus, Quetzacoalt or even the divinity of Jesus-Christ. We just go one god further.
        That’s why I’m asking you for evidence. Preferably evidence that has not been debunked for decades, if not century. Reading from your comments you seem to go for “Look, there’s life, so there is obviously a god.”, so I will not hold my breath.

        Regards,
        Philippe (try to spell my name right, k?)

        • Moshe Averick

          Philippe,

          I never said atheists have no moral values.
          I said that ATHEISM inescapably implies AMORALITY. there are many atheists who despite that still believe in moral values. They are (thank God) inconsistent with their atheistic outlook. When Bertrand Russell wrote that there is no way to refute the subjectivity of ethical values, he was stating a simple undeniable fact, not his own personal opinion. This is a basic philosophical reality that all prominent atheistic philosophers agree to,(except Hitchens, who as I said, is a huckster, not a philosopher).

          I will leave aside the discussion whether or not atheism is a religion, but what I said was that just because you may not like religion, that doesn’t mean that atheism is the truth.

          I don’t know which evidence you mean that has been debunked for decades, but there is no reasonable explanation for life other than an act of creation. If you saw a sand castle on the beach, you would instantly recognize it as the product of intelligence. A bacterium is exponentially more functionally complex than a sand dastle. The first life in the universe was either created or emerged naturally. The sand castle either was created or emerged naturally. The notion that a sand castle could emerge naturally is so absurd that it can be rejected out of hand (unless you could prove it, good luck) The notion that a bacterium could emerge naturally is so absurd that it can be rejected out of hand.(unless you can prove it, good luck.)

          Most atheists still labor under the illusion that science is steadily progressing towards an answer to this question. This simply is not true. The origin of life is MORE baffling now than it was in 1953 when the dead-end experiment of Stanley Miller gave such false hopes that this engigma would be explained.

          • Julian

            Atheism does not imply amorality. It quite obviously implies only that morality comes from a source other than infallible, eternal, all-knowing, and infinitely wise deities (who nontheless prescribe behaviors and conduct that modern civilized society recognizes almost universally as barbaric and bigoted and cruel). Is it really too hard to consider that ethics and morality are flowerings of sociology which have evolved along with us, spurred by our growing understanding of the world around us and our refining of just how to provide the most for as many of our species as possible?

            Is it more likely (or palatable) that our entire sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust is handed down from an impeccable being who embodies moral perfection? Why then does this being suggest such wicked and barbaric behavior in your “holy” texts? Why then has mankind- regardless of being informed by an eternal and all-knowing superbeing- taken so long to roundly condemn slavery, misogyny, racism, child abuse, and sexual assault? None of these horrors which society now considers indisputable wrongs are prohibited in your ten commandments. Why not?

            You can indeed “leave aside whether atheism is a religion,” because to suggest that it is reveals a complete ignorance of what religion and atheism respectively are. Atheism is one position on one issue; the lack of belief in gods/deities based on there being no demonstrable evidence for them. It is not a code of prescribed behaviors or multiple beliefs, it is ONE position. Atheism is not a religion, and “not collecting stamps” is not a hobby. I’m always curious as to why the religious go this route anyway. This repeated attempt to deem atheism a “religion” (apparently this is a less-than admirable mantle?) smacks of some deep-seated insecurity about the implications of religious belief. I would think the religious would enjoy their supposedly lofty perch of being “religious,” take pride in it, and find it unfortunate that the atheist is not…rather than wield the label as a slander and attempt to “drag us down to their level?”

            The fact that you recycle the same defeated (sandcastle/watchmaker) arguments against evolution and describe it as “an unguided process” or “a fluke” simply reveals a profound ignorance as to how evolution actually works. Evolution is a process spurred and driven by natural selection and adaptation (among other things). Do the careful selections of mates for sexual reproduction or the precise conditions under which non-sexual reproduction can occur in other species constitute “randomness?” Does a species abandoning an environment and adapting its behaviors and lifestyle to another one constitute “randomness?” Can we deem this all to be “unguided?” Perhaps…at least not guided by the sort of “guide” you or bronze-age superstitious sheep-herders would prefer or be able to conceive of.

            The “sandcastle”/”watch” argument fails right out of the gate because it assumes an artificial construct (something which is by definition distinct from naturally-occurring objects and known to be designed by humans) and nature itself to be analogous. Really…have you never seen this one shot down before?

            Finally:
            “Most atheists still labor under the illusion that science is steadily progressing towards an answer to this question. This simply is not true. The origin of life is MORE baffling now than it was in 1953 when the dead-end experiment of Stanley Miller gave such false hopes that this engigma would be explained.”

            This is little more than a childish lament that “all the answers” (assuming we are even asking the right questions) will not be answered…at least in our lifetime. It despairs at the numerous mysteries science keeps uncovering as it answers previous ones (why?) and lazily substitutes an easy-to-swallow mythology which answers precisely none of them, but nakedly asserts itself as the answer to everything.

            If you truly don’t think that science is constantly helping us to answer what was previously thought unanswerable, or making possible what was previously thought impossible, then I invite you to turn your computer off and not bother responding instantaneously to that other person far, far away. Pray your rebuttal to me instead.

          • Chris Cavanagh

            Good day Moshe.

            Three points which you have addressed to some extent in this very interesting thread: Pardon my brief, perhaps less than accurate summary but I am addressing how I understand your position: Would it be accurate to summarise your view as: Morality in an atheist world has to be either subjective or is unjustified. This is simply not true of animals which have evolved to be group animals such as humans and the other primates. Evolution drives certain behavioral traits of which ‘be kind to your own’ is an essential element for group survival. Just as evolution, regrettably, drives religion. Gullibility and group identification reinforcement are both positive evolutionary forces. So we as humans have an innate ‘do good’ drive but that drive manifests as a full spectrum from ‘no interest in others’ to ‘absolutely committed to the welfare of all others’. It is clearly in the one end of that spectrum that pathologically dysfunctional people arise. But that has got nothing to do with atheism. There are likely to be as many religious persons in that category as atheists. Hitler was both a good catholic and a barking mad monster who could justify killing all others outside his favoured own group. Animals, other than human have also been found to display moral behaviour. However animals that have evolved to be solitary may have just the moral structure you envisage but that does not include humans.
            Creation of life. All of your arguments may be tested in the very near future. The advancement of abiogenesis may soon address the question of ‘where does life come from?’ Again, it is starting to look like there is a spectrum from inanimate to animate. Science now appears to indicate evolution of molecules to a point where they are fully self replicating, and thereafter moving from simple to progressively more complex until there will be an identifiable life form. It may be a case that life did not begin: it is just another form of matter. At least science is addressing the issue of life’s creation whereas the religious simply accept its existence. This is precisely where religion has held humanity back. Religion does not promote the quest for truth and information. It holds us all back by suggesting this all came from gods. It is going to be an interesting time for religions all round when somebody like Craig Venter or Jack Szostak knocks this one out of the park. You state that scientists are more confused now than they were in 1953 but that is simply untrue and I expect you will retract that, once you have read the developments on the field.

            Lastly: Hitchens as huckster or philosopher. Let me first address philosopher: does Hitchens lay claim to being a philosopher? Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t ever recall him using that description with regard to himself. Journalist, author are descriptions on various websites but not philosopher. Perhaps you are setting him up to shoot him down. Does that class as a strawman argument. I’m not sure. However, when it comes to the word huckster, I had to look up that curious American colloquialism:
            o One who sells wares or provisions in the street; a peddler or hawker.
            o One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product.
            Isn’t that a fair description of what most priests, rabbi’s and imams do? It doesn’t seem to address the motives of the huckster so lets be charitable and say, even if it is with the best of intentions, you are in dire danger of using terms that could be equally applied to your profession.

            Regards and thanks for the most interesting post that I have found today.

          • Tony Murphy

            The problem is, of course, that you’re wrong. Atheism doesn’t imply amorality. Morality is merely that which allows us to function as social animals, and it is a result of our evolutionary past through the survival advantage it confers. It is essentially a social contract. The specific details and clauses of that contract are changeable, as our understanding progresses. This does not imply amorality, though it does imply a degree of relativism, because our understanding progresses at different rates.

            Incidentally, there is absolutely nothing in the laws of physics that renders the natural formation of a sandcastle absurd, though the probability is low. Have a care, though, because even the longest odds will inevitably deliver the goods given a large enough sample set.

            As for your contention about the origin of life, science is a good deal closer than the credulous are comfortable with, yet this is actually irrelevant to your position, because a natural origin of life does not require that we understand it. Simply not knowing how something occurred is not justification for erecting implausible and ridiculous claims in an attempt to explain it. This is a classic case of argumentum ad ignorantiam. So we can add basic logic to the list of things your penchant for magic has barred you from understanding.

  • Johann

    *waves* Hello again, Moshe. =) I’m honestly somewhat confused – on one hand you seem quite willing to continue the discussion of your support for genocide, and on the other it seems as though your interest doesn’t last long past the latest reminder. Is there anything I can do to make it easier to come back to it, i.e. repost my response here instead of a simple reminder so that you could keep track of our discussion and the comments on your latest article in one place?

    • Johann,

      I don’t know if there is any new ground to cover. I think we’ve taken the discussion about as far as it will go. It would probably be more productive to discuss the existence of God. If God does not exist, frankly, the whole discussion bores me one way or the other. On the other hand, if God does exist, that would open up new horizons for you.

      • Johann

        I think we’ve taken the discussion about as far as it will go.

        To me it seems that there’s plenty of room left, but if your recent reluctance to explain or defend your position is not just a passing phase then I suppose there’s not much point in continuing.

        As for the existence of gods, in my experience “productive” is very low on the list list of adjectives that apply to this topic.

        • Moshe Averick

          Johann,

          You do not believe in God. Therefore the idea that God commanded someone to do something is foreign and incomprehensible to you. My worldview is built on the truth of this proposition, that there actually exists an infinite transcendent God who is the source of all being and existence.

          If I became convinced that this was not true, and that we are nothing more than the flukey end-product (so far) of a blind, directionless and purposeless evolutionary process, frankly I could care less about discussing any of these issue. I could care less about exhausting discussions about genocide or non-genocide. It would be as meaningful as discussing whether or not lions have declared jihad on Zebras and wildibeest.
          In other words, insignificant nonsense.

          The issue of existence of God is at the root of our disagreement, nothing else. That is why I suggested it would be more productive to discuss that issue. If you think that is not productive, then so be it.

          • Johann

            You do not believe in God. Therefore the idea that God commanded someone to do something is foreign and incomprehensible to you.

            I’m not brain-damaged or retarded, Moshe, regardless of your generalizations about atheists. I’m perfectly capable of picturing a worldview different from my own and following a line of reasoning grounded in that worldview.

            What you’ve been giving me is not a line but a lopsided sort of zigzag, with the only consistent theme being “Slaughtering people for my god is peachy, just don’t call it genocide!”

            My worldview is built on the truth of this proposition, that there actually exists an infinite transcendent God who is the source of all being and existence.

            For my own part, I’m arguing with you because views like yours are fertile ground for massacres, and the dividing line between you and religious terrorists appears to be that they believe that their god has commanded them to kill – while you believe that yours hasn’t done so yet.

            But I would also find your views repugnant if your proposition were true, and would be against you on this question even if I believed in the same god as you do. Was I unclear about that? My apologies.

            If I became convinced that this was not true, and that we are nothing more than the flukey end-product (so far) of a blind, directionless and purposeless evolutionary process, frankly I could care less about discussing any of these issue. I could care less about exhausting discussions about genocide or non-genocide. It would be as meaningful as discussing whether or not lions have declared jihad on Zebras and wildibeest.
            In other words, insignificant nonsense.

            Yes, yes, I got the message a long time ago. You think that atheists are all amoral, misanthropic wankers and look forward to being one should you ever stop believing that it’s a good thing to kill people for a god who makes Hitler look like an amateur. That’s how we got started on this discussion.

            The issue of existence of God is at the root of our disagreement, nothing else.

            Not at all. As I said, I would find your position immoral even if I believed in your god.

            As far as I’m concerned, creation does not entail a right to destroy. An architect is not entitled to dynamite a building she has designed. Abraham was wrong to agree to sacrifice Isaac. Your god was wrong to exterminate the population of the Earth when he didn’t like the results of his first experiment.

            Does that help to clarify the roots of our disagreement?

          • Johann,

            The root of the disagreement is this:

            “Your god was wrong to exterminate the population of the earth when he didn’t like the results of the first experiment.”

            What we are left with when all is said and done is the following: Who is the final arbiter of truth, justice and morality, God or Johann? I choose God. I hope you’re not offended, but he is infinitely smarter, wiser, and more powerful than you are. The difference between the understanding of a donkey and a human is trivial compared to the difference between the understanding of a human and God.

            If God does NOT exist and the candidates for for the position of custos morum are Moshe or Johann, I choose Moshe.(I hope you’re not offended, but for what conceivable reason would I choose you?)

            The difference between us is that your answer to both questions above is: Johann.
            You’re entitled, it’s a free country.

          • Johann

            Who is the final arbiter of truth, justice and morality, God or Johann?

            Neither, Moshe. There is no final word or final arbiter on these questions. When all is said and done, we are left with Johann speaking for himself and Moshe claiming divine authority – one of them arguing that it’s a bad thing to massacre other people, the other saying that sometimes it’s good and necessary to do so. When? Why, when the god he claims to obey whispers into his ear.

            …for what conceivable reason would I choose you?

            Because in my worldview, unlike yours, there is no moral justification for the Holocaust – much less a moral imperative to commit it.

            Is there anything you would disobey your god in, Moshe? Would you kill one of your children for him, as Abraham was prepared to do? Based on what you’ve told me, the answer seems to be an unequivocal yes, but perhaps you do have some limits.

    • Chris,

      Thank you for your well thought out and composed remarks. I will try to briefly address them.

      A. RE: Morality
      Of course if God does not exist, then our “moral drive” is based in some evolutionary, chemical, or molecular process. Atheistic Philosopher Michael Ruse has already addressed the is issue: “There are no grounds whatsoever for being good…now that you know that morality is an illusion put in place by your genes to make you a social cooperator, what’s to stop you from behaving like an ancient Roman [soldier, raping, pillaging, and murdering?] Well, nothing in an objective sense, morality has no foundation.”

      RE: Origin of LIfe

      “It’s going to be interesting when J. Craig Venter or Jack Szostak knocks this one out of the park.”

      This is nothing more than a statement of FAITH on your part, it is not based on any evidence.

      At the recent Origins Conference at ASU which among others had J. Craig VEnter, Richard Dawkins, Lee Hartwell, Sydney Altman, Lawrence Krause, and Paul Davies on the panel, Dr. Paul Davies (an expert on Origin of Life research) got up and said exactly that: That nothing has changed since the early 50’s in terms of our understanding of the origin of life. In another recent lecture, as an answer to the question How did life begin? he said “We haven’t a clue.” The headline of the article written by senior writer John Horgan, on the Scientific American website, about the aforementioned conference was “Pssst, Don’t tell the creationists, but Scientists don’t have a clue how life began.” That is March, 2011.

      Chris, like many, you are grossly misinformed about the state of Origin of Life research. Jack Szostak has no clue whatsoever as to a naturalistic process that would cause life to emerge from non-life. He, like all others, has highly speculative theories, with no evidence to back them up. He is a brilliant scientist and researcher who is engaged in synthetic biology and chemistry. There is nothing that he has done in the lab that would even have a remote chance of occuring through an undirected process on a pre-biotic earth. Everything he has done can only be accomplished with expert scientists bringing all their knowledge. skill and ingenuity, to bear using the most advanced laboratory techniques and equipment, i.e. Intelligent Design.

      Re: Philosopher and Huckster

      I agree that Hitchens does not present himself as a professional philosopher in the sense of a philosophy professor in a university. However there is no way to seriously enter the discussion about existence of God without accepting upon oneself the responsibility of being a philosopher in some limited sense. Many of the issues involved require some level of understanding of important philosophical points. Hitchens is undoubtedly a highly talented and highly accomplished journatlist. However, when addressing the philosophical issues that are pertinant to a discussion about the existence of God, as far as I’m concerned, he falls flat on his face.

      The word “huckster” is used colloquially to mean someone who uses questionable methods to sell a questionable product, with the emphasis on the questionable methodology.(The archetypal huckster is the used car salesman in the cheap plaid suit and bow-tie) In any case, that’s how I was using the word. There certainly are clergymen who are hucksters.

  • David Parker

    Fair play for trying to deconstruct a frankly solid and well-built argument in terms of Hitchen’s book God is Not Great. It’s a good discipline in logic to try to do so. But unfortunately, you fail. If only you could bring to bear such discipline on your holy book, or the holy books of all other world religions, you’d then very quickly get somewhere.

    Religion is a fable. I agree with Hitchens entirely that it is nothing more than a hangover from a time when we did not have science as a means of explaining troubling phenomena.

    And, also like Hitchens, I am sorry to see you find the bodily mutilation of infants a subject for mirth. It proves his point – religion will make even average, decent people do what in any other context would be seen as a barbaric act, and do so with impunity.

    Good day to you, sir!

    • David,

      If God does not exist then of course you have a point.
      I won’t say that you’re right, because in an atheistic world that becomes totally insignificant and a purely subjective view of things.

      Abortion is much more “barbaric” than circumcision. circumcision, even from a purely secular point of view, has proven medical benefits.

      It’s interesting that you focused on circumcision and didn’t comment how Hitchens can’t even get scientific facts straight.

      • Ivan Moloko

        David said nothing about abortion, so why have you mentioned it? That point only makes sense if there is a religion which practices abortion as part of tradition, but to my knowledge no such religion exists.

        • Ivan,

          An interesting point. The religion of “Feminism” actively promotes abortion.
          It has been raised to the level of an “inalienable right.”

          • Ivan Moloko

            Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights with regard to social, political and economic equality. It is no more a religion than the advocacy of, say, basic human rights.

            It is disappointing to see yet another apologist projecting their religosity upon others in an ill-fated attempt to level the playing field, and outright disgusting that said apologist should see fit to declare abortion a doctrine of feminism. Feminists are not exclusively pro-choice, so again your argument falls short.

          • Tim Campbell

            So now feminism is a religion? You really are not very knowledgable are you? Of course coming from a belief system in which you can lay blame for your mortality onto all women makes your comments uh, eminently obvious.

        • Moshe Averick

          Ivan,

          If people get so upset at the “mutilation” of circumcision, then certainly they should get upset at the “mutilation” of abortion.

  • Perplexed

    The Rabbi reels of a sloppy shotgun ad hominen attack on Mr. Hitchens. Why right a book that attacks the atheist when the obvious approach is to provide an iron clad argument that they atheist are wrong and God does exist? The answer is that the Rabbi can’t prove their is a God (or any other type of magic man in the sky). Without proving there is this God, all behaviors and beliefs attributed to this God become unsupportable.

    • Perplexed,

      I attacked Hitchens because he’s a sloppy researcher, fabricates when it suits him, and even screws up scientific data. He deserves an ad hominem attack.

      If you want to see a comprehensive analysis of the intellectual poverty of atheistic philosophy and the case for a rational belief in God, you need to read my book.

      • Kevino

        Rabi Averick,
        What is the point of attacking Hitchens? It gets you, exactly where you started: nowhere. Who is willing to buy an anti-Hitchens rant? Most of us who read Hitchens, don’t idolize his personae – we just read his arguments. On the other hand, there are smart religious people who have the intellectual rigour and polemic tenacity to address Hitchen’s assertion, with some level of sucess. With your text, and the comments you post here, you prove to possess neither. Frankly, Hitchens seems to be way above your league, and out of your depth.

        • Perplexed

          @Averick

          Again, back to logic of debate. The burden of proof is on you to prove “God”. As a scientist, if you could prove to me, in a repeatable experiment, that “God” exists, I’ll buy into your thesis. Moreover, assuming the “God” in the Torah/Bible/Koran encouraged and perpetrated the atrocities in the Torah/Bible for actions that “God” did not approve, we should be able to repeat those acts and see “God” consistently “punish us”. For example, Leviticus 3:17, prohibiting eating fat or blood. Let’s eat piece of blood pudding and see what happens. I had some for breakfast the other day and it tasted great. As for attacking Hitchens, rather than Hitchens’ arguments, it make people less likely to give your ideas a fair read.

          • Perplexed,

            I attacked Hitchens by attacking his ridiculous arguments and fabrications. You have not addressed any of those; you did not address his misrepresentions of Judaism, Origin of Life research, the middle east conflict, or ATheistic Amorality. You have simply attacked me.

            I did not attack Hitchens because he disagrees with me or because he is an atheist. Earlier this month, I had a “debate” with Dr. Michael Shermer on the Michael Medved Radio Show. I read Shermer’s book, “Why Evolution Matters”. The only thing I agreed with in that book was the copyright page. However, I would never accuse Shermer of being a charlatan or huckster. There was a clear and determined attempt to present a series of rational and logical arguments for his position. He also acknowledged some of the problems with his arguments. I may have disagreed strongly with those arguments and his conclusions, but I can respect his approach and presentation.
            I stand by my original thesis: Hitchens is the Elmer Gantry of atheism.

        • Kevino,

          While I disagree with you vigorously, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. As Marshall MAcluen said (I may not have spelled his name correctly), “The medium is the message.” With a charlatan like Hitchens it is very hard to separate his arguments from his person. In my opinion, his popularity is not based at all on his arguments, they are sensless; it is based on his personal flair.

      • Dave

        Wow I was reading this thread with mirth and some admiration for all sides until this quote…

        “I attacked Hitchens because he’s a sloppy researcher, fabricates when it suits him, and even screws up scientific data. He deserves an ad hominem attack.”

        This boils down to “well, he hit me first” or at the very least “the ends justifies the means” I fear you’ve completely shot yourself in the foot Moshe Averick.

        You don’t get to criticize for errors or omissions when you freely admit to intentionally using faulty logic in doing so.

        Shame onto you sir.

        • David,
          I did not admit to using faulty logic anywhere. What I said is that I did “personally” attack Hitchens. I did more than just attack his arguments, as I might have done with someone like Michael Shermer or Julian Baggini. I think his style of presentation reflects serious character flaws also.

          I don’t know what he’s like in his personal life. He may be a wonderful father, a good friend, etc. But when he confronts God and religion there is something terribly wrong.

  • Doug O’Dell

    or (e) none of the above. Rabbi Moshe Averick is an intellectually lazy lying bigot.

    • Doug,
      I appreciate your comments. You’re almost a match for Hitchens himself. Again, you can get my book at Amazon or Kindle

      • Kieran

        If I did get your book, it would have to be a paper version. The electronic version isn’t very strong or absorbent, and doesn’t flush properly.

        • Kieran,

          by all means, get the paper version. Oh, you’re so clever

          • DaBigQ

            I am reading your book in the smallest room in the house… soon, it will all be behind me.

Algemeiner.com