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April 1, 2012 12:20 pm

Dr. Phil, Shauli Grossman, Ex-Hassidim, and the True Path to Enlightenment

avatar by Moshe Averick

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Hassidim in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn

Writers and pundits of all ideological stripes have weighed in on the controversy surrounding the best-selling “expose” of the Hassidic world by Deborah Feldman and the custody battle of another former Hassidic-community member, Pearl Reich. Ms. Reich recently appeared on the Dr. Phil show with Mr. Shauli Grossman (another ex-Hassid) and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I have chosen not to comment on either of these real-life dramas for a number of different reasons.

I was raised in a liberal Modern-Orthodox community on the south side of Chicago, growing up a half-block from St Phillip-Nehri Church. The neighborhood of South Shore was predominantly Catholic and I was involved in regular physical confrontations with local anti-Semites. Most of the people in the neighborhood belonged to the posh South Shore Country Club, which represented a world where “we” did not have any place.

I was bussed daily to the north side of the city (the main Jewish area) where I attended a co-ed Orthodox high school, Ida Crown Jewish Academy. This was from 1969-1973, a time when American society was in the throes of a cultural/spiritual upheaval. The first 18 years of my life were spent within what might be termed a “living paradox.” On the one hand I was part of a rather insular self-contained Orthodox Jewish community, while on the other hand absorbing through TV, movies, books, music, and my physical surroundings all aspects of American “gentile” culture. In many ways I was indistinguishable from any other American kid growing up at the time and in others I was completely different. Unbeknownst to me the opposing tugs of these two worlds were creating a steadily building tension in my soul and psyche; a tension that I was not fully aware of until I began attending the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1974.

For the first time in my life, I was spending the greater part of my day surrounded by people who were not Jews, who did not believe the things that I believed, and did not live the way I was used to living. The inertia and routine that until now, were provided by family, school, and community were no longer going to be the decisive factors in determining how I lived my life. It was quite a shock to my system to realize, that ultimately, I was going to have to decide for myself what I believed and why.

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There followed, a long, winding, and sometimes rather tortuous spiritual journey. To make a long story short, over the past 38 years I have become familiar – as an insider – to both the secular-American and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish worlds. The conflicts that arise when these two universes collide – emotional, psychological, and spiritual – are not, to me, theoretical or melodramatic constructs with which to entertain an audience on daytime television. They are immediately and palpably real. Unfortunately, I have also been through a painful and contentious divorce. The attempt to compress both of these life-experiences into a one hour talk show, including commercial breaks, or into a column on an internet news site, could only trivialize the matter. Apropos here (at least for me), a quote attributed to the German theologian Meister Eckhart: In silence man can most readily preserve his integrity.

Dr. Phil, popular talk show host.

Be that as it may, there is one impression about Pearl Reich and Shauli Grossman that I would like to share. As I watched some of the footage of Dr. Phil on YouTube, it seemed – again, only an impression and I certainly could be wrong – that Ms. Reich was animated mostly by whatever unfortunate experiences she had in her life; Shauli Grossman seemed to have, besides his personal experiences, an ideological agenda fueling his particular point of view. I found Mr. Grossman’s Facebook page and although I don’t know him on a personal level at all, discovered at least some prima facie evidence that there was some truth to my initial impression.

Under “religious views” he wrote: “shul [synagogue] of the flying spaghetti monster.” For those who are unaware, “the flying spaghetti monster” has become a standard atheistic metaphor used to mock religious beliefs as in “you believe in something as ridiculous as angels, I believe in the flying spaghetti monster.” While the “shul of the flying spaghetti monster” might not be conclusive, the following does not leave much to the imagination: In “People Who Inspire Shauli” he has listed three of the most prominent “new atheist” ideologues: Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins. It would seem reasonable to assume then that Mr. Gross is a committed ideological atheist himself. He also described himself as “A puS**Ter yid” – poking fun in a vulgar sort of way at the common Yiddish expression “A Poshitah yid” which means “A simple Jew.”  Interestingly enough, I recently posted a song on YouTube that I wrote and recorded in Jerusalem called “Just A Simple Jew.” (It hasn’t gone viral yet, but I’m still hoping)

As I explained earlier, I have no intention of expressing any opinion on Shauli Grossman’s personal experiences or the particular lifestyle he has chosen to lead. However, the ideology of atheism as expressed by writers like Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris interests me very much. All three are discussed in my book (whose title does not leave much to the imagination as to where I stand on these issues), Nonsense of High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is one thing to make personal choices; it is another to mislead people with ideas and ideologies which are utterly false. If Mr. Grossman is inspired by these people and is prepared to go on national TV to express his opinions, perhaps the following challenge will be of interest to him:

Dear Mr. Grossman (R. Shauli): As we both know, Talmudic literature is filled with metaphors comparing the arguments that took place between the sages regarding Jewish law and thought, with the idea of warriors battling one against the other. I respectfully invite/challenge you – from one “simple Jew” to another –  to articulate and defend your new-chosen atheistic ideology in the arena of the intellect. Let us meet and debate the issue in a proper forum. I think the best place to start would be at the very beginning (always a very good place to start). I suggest “Does the Origin of Life require the existence of a Creator?” I look forward to hearing from you.  May the truth win out.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a  regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website.

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  • So one elephant having a trunk was odd; but all elephants having trunks looked like a plot. (Chesterton 1908, 106-7)

  • Matisyohu

    R’ Moshe,

    Apparently the comment I posted (this morning) was deleted.

    I’ll assume it was due to the format or length, rather than the content (though I did reference the ability to guide a journey to actual perception of the merge of natures collective realms, which may have been a put off, among other aspects therein), either way understandable.

    The result of the completed work it is meant to become is a broad enough scope of the demonstrable facts of existence on many levels (beyond that of conventionally accepted understanding, yet following conventional methods of deduction/observation/perception), to a point where the reader is not only left without doubt upon completion, but resulting in a rational understanding of existence with such a depth that there be not even a doubt that they may be left with doubt.

    As it says in Torah “DA es Elokei avicha” (KNOW the G-d of your father), “veyaDA’ATa HAYOM…” (and you shall KNOW TODAY…).

    To defend my intelligence (assuming it necessary) during my writing it I was processing and sketching multiple thought processes simultaneously hence the format. I would generally rewrite it properly, however given my schedule and the time involved I didn’t expect I would get to it in the immediate future, surely not before you might find use of any of the ideas therein.
    I hoped you may read it and somehow glean therefrom and piece together cases (from the more obscure ones) on the subject.

    As I didn’t expect it deleted (despite the format) I did not save a copy, I therefore request if you still have access to the post, that it may be sent to me for a proper orderly composition.

    Keep up the good work, and good luck on your debate with Shauli.
    I look forward to it, and to your response of-course.
    Thank you and Happy Pesach.

  • Doesn’t anyone (even MC) have any “definite argument from design” to offer for an attempted refutation?

    If there is no actual argument, it certainly cannot be refuted.

  • Matisyohu

    Physicality is merely a tool.
    Spirituality is what’s real. (For those who challenge the existence of spirituality, you must not have no intellect or emotions.)
    Nature is both. (Yes, relative redefinition, hence the defining)
    There is nothing more natural than “Supernal Energy” (G-d).

    To address the first argument of the comments, everything is designed by the ‘mind’, the brain is a transmitter/receiver to/from the body, which is a tool to manifest the design.
    Hence, to make something ‘in’ the physical realm we (humans) need a tool ‘in’ the physical realm, but the actual design concept is generated in the spiritual realm. Hence the spiritual realm is the source of our existence, not the physical.

    To initiate the physical realm one can’t be ‘in’ it. Furthermore, as there is a spiritual realm, that also needs to be initiated etc…

    As supposed by those who believe (at-least in the Jewish idea of an initiator) the entire spiritual realm is a manifestation of the initiator, the physical realm maybe manifestations of energies thereof, but only perceived by our brains as matter, just as there is no sound but only movement, and no light but only frequencies, and what we call physical is an energy construct we see as something other than this.

    Harmony vis a vis chaos, seems to pervade every aspect of spiritual existence. It can be supposed that the Jewish ‘Elokim’ is harmony (gematria ‘hateva’, hateva meaning The Nature, referring to the supernal identity of nature, physical, spiritual, energies), YKVK referring to the primordial initiator.

    While YKVK may be out of the perception of those who cannot connect to nature/themselves to such a depth, Elokim can be suggested as follows:
    We can observe that humans are spiritually aware (intellect, emotions and what have you), we can observe animals are, fish, insects, even flowers have been proven to react to spiritual “vibes”, some even suggest they have observed water doing the same (go figure), do we stop there, it seems anything which CAN be observed to have awareness does, just because a stone is motionless, is that reason to conclude the pattern stops there?! After-all, a plant has no brain either etc.

    We interact in this physical realm, it would stand to reason we interact in the spiritual realm.
    (there has been supposedly repeated confirmed controlled scientific studies proving of recollection of past lives, that can be repeated on demand, using non-suggestive hypnosis), assuming just as our vision in this physical realm gets weakened when not excersized, so too our “vision” in this spiritual realm, though under the right conditions in begin to flourish.

    footnote: the body functions better when in a better spiritual mood, and this can be influenced by sharing spiritual ideas (humor, kindness etc) thereby affecting the body, hearing a joke causes the brain to release endorphins, at the hand of the spiritual mind.

    The simplest explanation… Is not so simple when they’re all given at once in a matrix of interwoven thoughts, but they are seemingly the simplest explanations (minus the expounding of Jewish multi-definitions of this G-d many only imagine).

    religions are false, there is only the religion of Naturalism (Noahidism) or natural morality, with Jews the designated priests of humanity, tipping the balance to keep harmony weighing in over chaos and spiritualizing themselves enough to be the intermediary between the initiator and the simply moral or otherwise people, as termed by John Adams the leading revolutionary of the USA first VP and second president of the USA “The Hebrews have contributed more to the civilization of humanity than any other people” a statistical impossibility.
    That they still exist, a statistical impossibility.
    That they uphold the same legal and ethical system as they did prior to millenia out-moraling even the supposed most enlightened society surrounding them that far back (rome?) watched murder for entertainment, where it was accepted to leave babies out in the sun as “birth control”, a statistical impossibility.

    We accept as FACT that Freud existed.
    He wrote works, and he was cross-referenced by many contemporaries which has been passed down by all those who came in contact with him etc etc etc.

    There is more evidence for this G-d.
    There is a book attributed to Him, and an entire people passed on a tradition of exposure to him etc etc etc.

    Today it is easy to say that one would not become so spiritually blind to spiral into spiritual chaos like stalin, yet this is after Jews have made relative civility a norm that is supported by all those who they have civilized, and this only continues as they continue to do this job, these same people who claim to have been exposed to this initiator (I have disciplined/excercized my spiritual perception, and have perceived Him sufficiently enough to testify, and I am able to corroborate with others who have witnessed as I. While this may sound dillusional (take my sporadic writing as evidence) for how can one perceive Him, I retort, that is why it’s called one’s mind’s eye. Furthermore, like a see another person physically but do not see what lies within them, I have seen where all the point of existence physical and spiritual converge to One, past which was beyond my perception, and I can take many there.)

    I will leave with this question for the self-proclaimed supposed atheists (if you’re still bothering to try to follow my erratic writing this day, it’s usually sharply precise, but i’m in another realm for this subject):

    Question:
    Is murder unacceptable only because we have made laws to prohibit it, or would it be naturally unacceptable without whatever humanly-established laws we have made?

    (I hope to meet the one who says it’s only unacceptable due to man-made laws in a lawless land so I may eradicate that threat from amidst our fellow Harmonic beings based on their own reasoning, and rely on the protection of others justifying my actions.)

    Good day!

  • Moshe Averick

    To All:

    For those who are interested, Mr. Grossman has accepted my invitation to debate on the subject of whether or not Origin of Life requires a creator. We have agreed, generally speaking on a basic format. When all the details are finalized I will post them in my column at Algemeiner.com and I imagine Mr. Grossman will post them on his Facebook page. Chag Sameach, Happy and Joyous Passover to all.

  • Moby Mozi

    Not quite sure how minds above work but to me:
    1. Complex existence means a designer
    2. Observance of the world and laws of nature/science require complexity to have a source.
    3. The design therefore indicates that something outside the realm of laws of nature initially created it as no laws of nature allow for the items to create themselves.
    4. We call that something G-D. Our history as admitted by the 3 major faiths includes national revealations in front of the entire nation.
    5. I call that history and logic not blind faith.

    • Moshe Averick

      Moby,

      makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

    • ——1. Complex existence means a designer——

      Not necessarily. Some complex things have been designed by people, but some already existed in nature without any designing.

      ——2. Observance of the world and laws of nature/science require complexity to have a source.——

      Not outside of nature. Anything and everything observable or studiable is 100% natural, through and through. An “unnatural source” could be nothing but a non-existent source.

      ——3. The design therefore indicates that something outside the realm of laws of nature initially created it as no laws of nature allow for the items to create themselves.——

      Your “initially created” notion about nature has no grounding, no basis, no support, no sense. It’s an arbitrary, essentially meaningless, proposition.

      ——4. We call that something G-D. Our history as admitted by the 3 major faiths includes national revealations in front of the entire nation.——

      You’re dreaming there.

      ——5. I call that history and logic not blind faith.——

      It is blind (i.e., religious) faith even if you don’t admit it. You cannot change the facts by refusing to use the correct name for something.

    • Moby,

      You didn’t make any sense — but that is certainly acceptable in religious circles. Religious folk tend to prefer it that way.

  • Question: “Does the Origin of Life require the existence of a Creator?”

    Answer: “No.” A supernatural Creator is an impossibility. Nature does not require the impossible. (The improbable isn’t ruled out, however . . . .)

  • Why should anyone be a theist? What reason is there to do it? (What are the likely results as compared to the hoped for results?) Is desiring a “relationship to God” enough, even though any actual relationship is impossible?

  • I happened to be looking at a blog called “Coming Out Atheist” and the post was talking about a “lens” in a way that I am not familiar with. Does anyone know what was meant? Something like a 70-200mm f2.8?

    • Moshe Averick

      Steve,

      In all honesty, are you trying to get into the Guiness Book of World Records?

      • Not me. What’s wrong with you?

        Can you concisely explain why you are a theist, rather than something else? What reason do you imagine there is for anyone to be a theist?

    • Is it something about wearing a special pair of thick glasses? As if the world cannot be taken without some heavy-duty filtering?

  • Eli

    To summarize for those who lost track of the thread:

    1. All functional complexity and specified information (FCSI) is the result of physical, intelligent designers.
    2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.
    3. The first bacterium is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.

    In other words, intelligent design doesn’t support the existence of a supernatural, nonphysical being.

    The end.

    • ——“2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.”——

      That’s not true. It’s not a case of having “lost track of the thread.” Your premise is simply not true. Not even close; it’s just nonsense.

  • jp

    Apropos here (at least for me), a quote attributed to the German theologian Meister Eckhart: In silence man can most readily preserve his integrity.

    It’s true that is very appropriate here (at least for you).

    One day, with sufficient reflection, you may come to understand just how appropriate for you it really is.

    • ——“… Meister Eckhart: In silence man can most readily preserve his integrity.——

      Echart is setting up a false dichotomy between “integrity” and having an interesting life (i.e., having ideas and standing up for them).

      • jp

        Steve, you could stand to read and internalise that quotation just as much as Moshe, you know that?

        • A list of three quotes ——

          Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

          Martin Niemöller said, “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew….”

          Meister Eckhart: In silence man can most readily preserve his integrity.

          Burke and Niemöller are on the right track. Eckhart has got it wrong.

          Eckhart’s notion seems to be, “If you see something wrong, shut up! That must be the way God wants it.” Did he really believe that silence was the best defense against the inquisition?

          • jp

            I’d agree, but you’re using one extra premise: that what one says when one breaks one’s silence does not damage one’s integrity. If that’s not the case, then it’s better to keep schtum.

          • And your view is that speaking against theism is damaging to one’s integrity?

            Or is it speaking for theism?

            Or what? (Just not agreeing with you on something?)

          • jp

            I directed my original comment to Moshe, as advice that it would be appropriate for him to follow his own quotation not just on personal matters, but more widely.

            Steve, by jumping in and having your two cents’ worth on a comment not even directed at you, reading things into that that were never there, you showed yourself to be a prime candidate for the same advice.

            I will say this, though: that by not replying to my original comment (and therefore leaving open the possibility that he’s taken the advice in it), Moshe has shown himself in this instance to be both smarter and wiser than you.

          • Actually, I didn’t even see Moshe use that quote (until you just inspired me to look for it). Originally, I stopped reading that paragraph at “contentious divorce.”

            I’ve never had any kind of divorce (only one marriage), so Moshe is certainly “wiser” than me on contending with divorce.

            So your contention is that Moshe should become silent on the subject of atheism? Or maybe theism, too?

  • If I could briefly summarize my philosophy (broken down into four parts for metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics) it would go something like this:

    1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” (objective reality)

    2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” (reason and logic)

    3. “Man is an end in himself.” (rational self-interest)

    4. “Give me liberty or give me death.” (laissez-faire capitalism)

    (Hopefully, this is familiar. If not, try googling “one foot Ayn Rand lexicon.) [ http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/objectivism.html ]

    In reference to some questions I’ve asked, Moshe, could you give a corresponding brief statement of your theistic philosophy? (You can be less brief if that better suits your style.)

    • It would be helpful to see what you can provide as a basis for an explanation of why anyone would wish to believe or advocate that “God” is anything other than a comforting (or in some cases maybe scary) instance of fiction and fantasy.

      And what could explain, since belief in God is simply blind faith, what is so wrong with accepting it as just what it is?

      What principles do you have to explain the common problem that religious people want to kill “unbelievers,” or at least force them to submit to religious rule? What’s wrong with being “quiet believers,” willing to live and let live?

      It would be good if you could set the context for what you are saying here.

  • Moshe chooses to ——“assert that you cannot give me any example of specified complexity or specified information above Level X that is not the result of intelligent intervention.”——

    Well, naturally, Moshe, any and every example of intelligent intervention is an example of intelligent intervention. It is impossible for it to be any other way.

    But what has that got to do with your THEISTIC beliefs??? Where is there any logical connection? You cannot seem to bring yourself to say anything coherent and logical about God.

  • Rabbi Averick correctly points out this fact about his position: ——‘What I said was that “functional complexity” meaning complexity that functions toward a specific goal or purpose and “specified information”, information that conveys a clear symbolic meaning or a set of instructions towards a specific purpose is the result of an intelligent designer.’——

    But that is not a valid argument for the possibility of “Creation, by God!”

    Rabbi Averick is simply begging the question. He is saying no more than that something done by an “intelligent designer” is something done by an “intelligent designer.”

  • “A creator who is not material in any way, that is to say, not in time, space, and composed of neither matter nor energy is by definition” not real.

  • Rabbi Averick,

    It would be helpful to see is an explanation of why anyone would wish to believe or advocate that “God” is anything other than a comforting (or in some cases maybe scary) instance of fiction and fantasy.

    Since belief in God is simply blind faith, what is so wrong with accepting it as just what it is?

    What explains the common problem that religious people want to kill “unbelievers,” or at least force them to submit to religious rule? What’s wrong with being “quiet believers,” willing to live and let live?

  • avi ben zev

    Shauli I’m actualy looking forward to the debate as you were public enough to go on dr phil man up and go one on one now I have no clue who rabbi averick is but I want to hear what you have to say no just rehtoric but fact

  • An ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain political or religious system.

    “Atheism” is not an ideology because it doesn’t aim to establish any social system. “Atheism” is nothing more than a lack of belief in a supernatural God. That provides zero basis for any principles or system. At most, it could be a rejection of religious principles and systems — with no hint of what ideology any particular atheist actually has.

    (Moshe Averick’s bizarre notion that being an atheist renders one unable to value human life is an exercise in wearing blinders to avoid facing reality.)

    • MC

      Steve,
      Of course one can be an idealogue for atheism. You live in a fantasy world where atheists arrived at their beliefs due to objective thinking, as opposed to emotional biases.
      On none of the prior comments you have made have you actually refuted the logic of the design argument. All you do is proclaim that there is no God, without actually contending with the logic of the argument itself.

      • Eli

        MC,

        As I understand it, the design argument goes like this:

        Everything complex is designed by intelligence.
        Life is complex.
        Life is designed by intelligence.

        Is this correct?

        Next question… Everything that is intelligent is complex. Do you disagree?

        • Eli,

          Slight revision:

          All material/physical objects which are functionally complex or reflect specified information are the result of intelligent intervention

          A creator who is not material in any way, that is to say, not in time, space, and composed of neither matter nor energy is by definition not materially/physically complex.

          • Eli

            OK. Well, everything complex is designed by a creator who is in time, space, and composed of matter. There are no exceptions. So, the design argument is as follows:

            1. All material/physical objects which are functionally complex or reflect specified information are the result of intervention by physical intelligence.
            2. Life is functionally complex, etc.
            3. Life is the result of physical intelligence.

            So a nonphysical intelligence as you’ve described couldn’t have designed life.

          • ——“All material/physical objects which are functionally complex or reflect specified information are the result of intelligent intervention.”——

            Moshe likes this use of the petitio fallacy.

            It is obvious to me, but in case anyone missed it: “specified information” is a product of intelligence (since there has to be somebody doing the specifying), so saying that all objects which reflect “specified information” are the result of intelligent intervention is not an argument but simply begs the question.

            And if you consider the “functionally complex” part, there are problems. For instance: “functional” according to whom? “complex” according to whom?

            Then of course, the big question: how do you know when intelligent intervention is either required or possible?

            Moshe is assuming it, but he has no case for taking his assumption seriously.

          • “A creator who is not material in any way, that is to say, not in time, space, and composed of neither matter nor energy is by definition” non-existent.

        • Eli,

          How do you know that everything complex is designed by a physical creator? Isn’t that the very point of contention? If you can prove to me that everything is created by a physical creator, I will join your side immediately.

          • Eli

            Moshe,

            How do you know that everything complex is designed by a creator?

          • The point is that not everything complex is “designed” or some “result of intelligent intervention.”

            On a really simple level, notice that intelligence itself is complex. Thus it is not possible that intelligence was designed and created through “intelligent intervention.”

            At best you could argue, that SOME “functionally complex” things are designed and created through intelligent intervention. And that much is clearly true.

            But you cannot argue from the real world to anything UNREAL, e.g., “Creation, by God!”

        • Eli,

          I did not say that everything that is complex is desinged by a creator. A pile of driftwood on a beach can be described as mathematically complex, meaning that there is no algorithm that could describe the arrangement of the wood.

          What I said was that “functional complexity” meaning complexity that functions toward a specific goal or purpose and “specified information”, information that conveys a clear symbolic meaning or a set of instructions towards a specific purpose is the result of an intelligent designer.

          Let us propose that the level of functional complexity that is displayed in a child’s Hotwheels car is Level X of functional complexity. Let us propose that the level of “specified information” contained in the words “Hello Eli, so nice of you to post your comments on my column, Sincerely, Moshe AVerick” written in the sand on a beach is Level X of specified information.

          I would assert that you cannot give me any example of specified complexity or specified information above Level X that is not the result of intellgient intervention. Evolutionary processes are not valid because they require the pre-existence of specified complexity and specified information beyond the levels of any that human technology is able to produce (i.e. a living bacterium, the simplest known form of life capable of evolving. There is no evidence that “simpler” forms of life ever existed and their existence is nothing more than speculation. At the present there is no conclusive empirical, scientific evidence that they ever existed in a natural state.)

          • Moshe maintains that: ——‘What I said was that “functional complexity” meaning complexity that functions toward a specific goal or purpose and “specified information”, information that conveys a clear symbolic meaning or a set of instructions towards a specific purpose is the result of an intelligent designer.’——

            But that is not a valid argument for the possibility of “Creation, by God!” or any other version of the supernatural.

            Moshe, you are simply begging the question. You are only saying that something done by an “intelligent designer” is something done by an “intelligent designer.” Well, that’s not news. And it gets you nowhere near God.

          • ——“I would assert that you cannot give me any example of specified complexity or specified information above Level X that is not the result of intelligent intervention.”——

            Well, naturally, Moshe, any and every example of intelligent intervention is an example of intelligent intervention. It is impossible for it to be any other way.

            But what has that got to do with your THEISTIC beliefs??? Where is there any logical connection?

          • Eli

            Fine. All functional complexity and specified information (which I’ll abbreviate as FCSI for the sake of brevity) is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.

            A child’s Hotwheels car and this sentence are both the result of physical intelligence. I would assert that you cannot give me any example of FCSI that is not the result of physical intelligent intervention.

            So, the argument still stands:

            1. All FCSI is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.
            2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.
            3. The first bacterium is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.

            So a nonphysical intelligence as you’ve described couldn’t have designed the first bacterium.

          • jp

            On the other hand, we have the human brain, which is incredibly complex, and not created by an intelligence, but rather the product of billions of years of natural selection.

            Moshe’s counter will be, as it always has been that we can prove the brain’s complexity was the result of intelligent intervention by the simple trick of assuming that its complexity was entirely contained in primordial DNA and its associated chemical behaviours. And then adding the important premise that that complexity must have been intelligently specified, because it’s complex.

            So Moshe has two premises that lead, for him, inescapably to his conclusion. Problem is, that premise 1 is false, and premise 2 simply IS his conclusion.

            No wonder he won’t define “logical” for Sivan.

          • Way to go, jp! You’ve nailed it again.

            (I know you think I’m an idiot, so don’t care what I think. But I just like to acknowledge the good stuff when it shows up around here.)

          • ——“2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.”——

            And there’s yet another example of baloney. That is, a premise that is untrue.

      • ——“You live in a fantasy world where atheists arrived at their beliefs due to objective thinking, as opposed to emotional biases.”——

        No, that’s the real world. At least some atheists have arrived at their lack of belief in God through “objective thinking.” Not all, certainly, but definitely some. If you don’t believe that, then it is you who “live in a fantasy world where no atheists arrived at their believes due to objective thinking.”

        And then, naturally, you need to considered that “emotional biases” are the only way to arrive at theistic beliefs, since it is impossible to arrive there by any objective means (not with a “creator who is not material in any way, that is to say, not in time, space, and composed of neither matter nor energy”!).

  • Sivan

    “Mr. Gross is a committed ideological atheist himself”

    Define ideology without using the word ideology. I’ve asked you to do this before under the comments of a different article, but you never did. Maybe this time will be different.

    Also, I’m still waiting for you to finally define logic, without using the word itself, synonyms (reason, rationale), or the adjective forms of these words (logical, reasonable, rational).

    Unless you are trying to use big boy words without knowing what they mean, this shouldn’t be difficult.

  • Moshe,

    What I would like to see is an explanation of why anyone would wish to believe or advocate that “God” is anything other than a comforting (or in some cases maybe scary) instance of fiction and fantasy.

    Since belief in God is simply blind faith, what is so wrong with accepting it as just what it is?

    Why should religious people want to kill “unbelievers,” or at least force them to submit to religious rule? What’s wrong with being “quiet believers,” willing to live and let live?

  • Maybe you could write a new book: Danger of a High Order: the Confused and Illusory World of the Unquiet Theists.

    • Moshe Averick

      Steve,

      I will talk it over with my literary agent. Anything for a buck.

      • ——“Anything for a buck.”——

        I strongly disagree.

        “Making a buck” while helping make the world a better place is a good thing.

        “Making a buck” while helping make the world worse off — ala Sharpton or Gore — is NOT a good thing.

  • ——“Does the Origin of Life require the existence of a Creator?”

    Obviously, the answer is, “No, since life is a fact, and ‘a supernatural Creator’ is a bit of fantasy fiction.”

    • Steve,

      Thank you, I always appreciate your input.

      • Well, Moshe, you’re certainly welcome.

        What I would like to see is an explanation of why anyone would wish to believe or advocate that “God” is anything other than a comforting (or in some cases maybe scary) instance of fiction and fantasy.

        Since belief in God is simply blind faith, what is so wrong with accepting it as just what it is?

        Why should religious people want to kill “unbelievers,” or at least force them to submit to religious rule? What’s wrong with being “quiet believers,” willing to live and let live?

        • joseph

          “Since belief in God is simply blind faith, what is so wrong with accepting it as just what it is?”

          You can choose to believe whatever u wish. However, please explain this to me: Science teaches that matter cannot be created, correct? Based on this, please explain to me where the world as we know it and the universe came from. Thank you.

          • MC

            Joseph, don’t expect a real answer to your question. At best you’ll be met with hand waving apologetics, or sarcasm.

          • Eli

            Joseph,

            I don’t know where the world came from. Do you?

          • ——“… please explain to me where the world as we know it and the universe came from.”——

            Why do you feel that it had to come from somewhere else? What does “not-of-this-universe” actually mean, other than “nothing nowhere”?

            In other words, where else is there? Where could some UNREAL WORLD be?

        • Steve,

          Read my book. I set out the whole case there.

          • If it’s all supposed to be there, then why do you write these articles and add all these comments?

            And if you said it there, why can’t you say it here (briefly in essentials, even in small steps)?

            So far, I haven’t found any library that has your book. You haven’t given enough in this forum to convince me to buy it.

          • jp

            I’ve got Moshe’s book (and no, I didn’t buy it – the person who gave it to me said I was doing them a favour by removing it from their house!) and I can let you know that while Moshe’s whole case is in the book, it’s no more convincing than his blog. Mainly, he uses the freedom of having more words to simply commit more fallacies.

          • Thanks for the heads-up, jp.

            That’s about the way I had it figured. (I did get to read chapters 8 & 9 last year when the rabbi emailed them.)

            I still think he should be able to give a condensed version of the essentials of his position. But maybe he feels that concision is the enemy of baloney.

  • Jake Williamsburg

    In the advant of genetic science and its prize project–sequencing the human genes. One can now very easily test themselves to see who their relatives are. I hypothesize that Shmuley Boteach is your brother somehow. You sound just like him. Go check yourself..

    On a more serious note, everybody knows Shauli’s Facebook. He doesn’t keep it a secret. You haven’t ‘exposed’ anything. Are you saying that because he doesn’t share your beleifs, he is now discredited on sharing his views about antiquated hegemony subdugation of women?

    • Moshe Averick

      Jake,

      check your own geneology, you sound just like some of the other weird people who post on my articles. Don’t understand your point, don’t understand what you are talking about, except that you seem to have a rather big chip on your shoulder. Nothing you wrote has anything at all to do with my article.

    • Whatever you’re smoking is really rotten stuff.

  • shauli grossman

    Hi Rabbi Moshe, while i’m a bit dubious about your means of communication and summons to debate publicly in an article, instead of in a private email, i will gladly debate theology versus atheism any day of the week; and so, while i’m already doing just that for the past few years, you are very much invited to inbox or email me and include yourself in the active philosophical discussions.

    • Are you refusing to debate in public?

      Maybe you could use the example of being a “quiet unbeliever” to inspire more “quiet theism.”

    • Moshe Averick

      Shauli,

      Thank you for your invitation to include myself in the active discussions. I had in mind a formal head to head debate. Right now I have all the active online discussions I can handle.

      • MC

        Yes, dealing with internet trolls like Steve is a waste of time, although I would really just recommend ignoring him, since he makes no sense.

  • Duvid

    Mr Grossman on his FB page last week wrote clearly that he is an atheist, and from what I understand has been so for some time

  • Kevin Bjornson

    Atheism is not an ideological affirmation. Atheism defines itself negatively with reference to the undefined. So at best, atheism is nihilistic, which is not a true ideology, but rather, a denial of ideology.

    Since the theity or deity has not been defined,
    any attempt at talking about it would necessarily be nonsense and not communicate anything. In order to define using natural language, terms must be defined empirically, or at most in terms of logical relations between empirically defined terms.

    Since theology is necessarily nonsense, any denial of it must also be nonsense. Humans lack supernatural powers, hence lack the means for talking about the supernatural. Since “supernatural” has not been defined, except as other-than natural, it too is nihilistic. So atheism is doubly nihilistic, since it negates what is in effect nothing more than a negation.

    • ——“So at best, atheism is nihilistic…”——

      I disagree. I don’t think you’ve thought this issue through in a careful manner.

      Sure, an atheist could be a nihilist, but then so could a theist. There is nothing necessarily tying either to nihilism.

      Being an atheist does not have to mean anything beyond the choice not to indulge in the irrationality of believing in the supernatural. There is nothing necessarily nihilistic about that!

      • MC

        “Being an atheist does not have to mean anything beyond the choice not to indulge in the irrationality of believing in the supernatural. There is nothing necessarily nihilistic about that!”

        Steve, you need to recognize that there is a difference between saying something, and saying something that actually makes sense.

        An atheist who understands the implications of his atheism necessarily understands that ALL values without exception are subjective constructs. The fact that thousands, even millions of people, may share some of your values does not negate this fact.

        To state otherwise is simply to fail to connect the dots, which is what you do, which is why I advise Rabbi Averick to not waste his time with you. Thanks!

        • ——“An atheist who understands the implications of his atheism necessarily understands that ALL values without exception are subjective constructs.”——

          How do you figure that?

          What are your premises for that conclusion? What logical argument(s) can you offer?

          What are the “implications” to which you are referring? This could get interesting.

        • Eli

          Yes, values are subjects not objects. Values are subjective, not objective. What’s your point?

          • “The earth has continents and oceans.”

            In that sentence, “earth” is the subject, so are you trying to claim that the earth does not objectively exist?

            What could possibly be your point?

          • Eli

            Earth is the subject of that sentence, but the earth is an object.

            Values are subjective, provided one understands what the words objective and subjective mean.

          • A value is the object of an action; it is something which a person act to gain and/or keep.

            Values are not subjective in the sense you are claiming.

          • Eli

            Values are subjective in every sense. Thanks for playing, though.

          • Your values may indeed all be subjective, Eli, but not everyone plays fast and loose with good sense the way you do. Some of us actually have the good sense to have objective values to work with.

            Sorry, but I’m not playing your game.

        • MC, we’re still waiting to hear your ideas on the “necessary implications of atheism” which you seem to feel are so wild and crazy.

    • Kevin,

      too many people experience the spiritual world in an intimate and palpable way to wave it away with esoteric arguments. I am not saying that the fact that they claim such an experience necessarily confirms beyond all doubt that it reflects reality, but the experience is too pervasive throughout mankind and throughout history not to be taken very seriously. The details may very well be fuzzy at the beginning of the discussion, but that does not mean “that theology is necessarily nonsense.” It is almost as bizarre as those materialists who claim that the self is an illusion.

      • ——“too many people experience the spiritual world in an intimate and palpable way”——

        “Palpable” means physically perceptible, so you are contradicting your description of the “spiritual world” as not of THIS, viz., the actual physical, world.

        Nobody experiences anything “not-of-this-world.” The most they can do is fantasize about it.

        You need to be more clear about what you are trying to say.

        • MC

          “You need to be more clear about what you are trying to say.”

          He’s perfectly clear.

      • ——‘… but that does not mean “that theology is necessarily nonsense.”’——

        If theology is supposed to be about a Being or Power that is NOT-OF-THIS-WORLD, then it is necessarily nonsense, i.e., faith-based, not reason/reality/evidence-based. How could it be otherwise?

        • MC

          Steve I eagerly await your definitive refutation of the argument from design.

          Otherwise your conclusions are founded on little more than dogmatic assertions. Good luck!

          • Okay, tell us what you think your “definitive argument from design” is. I can’t refute something that isn’t there.

          • Still awaiting your “argument from design,” MC. I wish you good luck in communicating it.

          • And your “argument from design” is . . . .

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