Monday, December 20, 2010

The problem with Intelligent Design

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why the Universe Appears to Be More Than 5771 Years Old

Rafi shares his views on "Why the Universe Appears to Be More Than 5771 Years Old".

I found that his link did not work from Chrome, so I took the liberty of uploading it to

access from any browser:

access from internet explorer:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here are a couple of highly educational videos on evolution and intelligent design.  I only recently heard of Ken Miller and find him captivating.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Young star light

In this comment from his YEC blog, Rabbi Coffer finally explains why star light from distant starts is less than 6,000 years old, and why the star light doesn't even appear to be as old as the distance would indicate.  I think that it is worthy of its own posting and should not be buried in the comments section.

Rabbi Coffer's explanation verbatim...
Hashem is a “huge” watchmaker, ka’vayachol. The universe is full of phenomena, hundreds of billions of phenomena, which are endlessly more complex than a watch. Like the watchmaker of our mashal, He had a purpose in creating all these things. Starlight is one of these phenomena, or, “watches”.

Now let’s suppose for a moment that this universe could possibly be explained without recourse to a Great Watch Designer. We would now have two distinct possibilities. Either the starlight we see was created billions of years ago via random chance naturalistic processes which would then account for us being able to see the light from stars which are billions of light years away. Or, the universe was created by a Great Watch Designer who created a fully functional universe instantly according to His specifications and thus designed it in such a way that the light from distant stars reached earth at their very inception.

Could you have a ta’ana on the Great Watch Designer for doing such a thing? Could you claim that He planted false evidence in the beriah? Of course not. He was just going about His business of making “watches”, that’s all. He never asked people to be unreasonable and entirely discount the possibility of a Great Intelligent Designer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The wisdom of Matthew Harrison Brady

I saw this film as a child and was captivated by Spencer Tracy's performance.  How I was misled!

Wisdom is indeed a commodity!

An updated version is under production.  Rabbi Simcha Coffer plays the role of Matthew Harrison Brady, and of course R' Natan Slifkin plays the role of Bertram T. Cates.

Monday, November 8, 2010

YEC bloggers and background


Recently a group of Jewish young earth creationist evangelists opened a blog called "slifkin-opinions".  The name pays tribute to Rabbi Natan Slifkin (RNS), the well known advocate of "rationalist" Judaism that penned several books aspiring to reconcile traditional Orthodox Judaism with the findings of modern science.  His books and the view points expressed therein were banned by many prominent sages about six years ago, who declared them heretical.  As is typical with bans of this sort, the outcome brought much publicity to RNS, his books, and his ideas. This came as a shock to many practicing orthodox Jews, and in particular to those who came to observance as adults. That is, the ban revealed to many orthodox Jews that their beliefs about the natural world were completely unacceptable to the sages that they looked to for guidance in all matters of life great and small.  It opened quite a can of worms.

The problem faced by many who never previously had even heard of RNS, was that they were left without practical guidance on what yes to believe to replace the notions that they now understood to be unacceptable to the sages.  The problem was aggravated by the fact that RNS himself was and continued to be quite open and articulate about his view points - even garrulous.  In contrast, those in support of the sages were mostly reticent other than stressing the fact that obedience to the sages is paramount. Meanwhile RNS re-published and augmented his banned books under the auspices of a new publisher that opposed the ban, as well as freely publishing articles on his website and regular postings on his blog rationalistjudaism.

This left the modern adherent to "charedi" Judaism in a quandary.  While the will to submit to the guidance of the sages was freely acknowledged, it was impractical to adapt a world view that seemed illogical to the modern educated person.  How was one to turn around his world view without simple, rational guidance on how to do so?

Thus it was with great expectations that I and some other truth seekers looked to the new blog for answers.  The  anti-RNS blog originated as a response.  On RNS's blog, Dr. Isaac Betech (DIB) challenged RNS to a live strictly protocol debate.   For whatever reason (each side points to the other as the culprit), the debate did not materialize.  Instead, Dr. Betech along with colleagues Rabbi Simcha Coffer (RSC) and Doctor (of computer science) Yoel Ostroff (DYO) opened their blog.  While Dr. Betech continued to be completely reticent of substantive issues despite our best attempts at prodding, and DYO chose mostly to ignore questions, we were pleased to see that RSC chose to actively engage both RNS himself as well as those posting questions and critiques on the blog's open comments section.  Finally, we had someone to talk to!

Personally, I took the opportunity to engage RSC in a discussion not about the age of the universe, but rather the appearance of the age of the universe.  I understood from the outset that to say that the universe existed for more than 6000 years would pose a theological problem.  But who could deny that the universe appears to be quite older than that? RSC did and does.

For subject matter, I chose the King Clone creosote plant of the Mojave Desert.  The choice was mostly random but also for simplicity.  Scientists estimate the age of this plant to be 11,600 years and this is based on both carbon dating and growth rates of the plant.  RSC explained that the physical laws of the universe as we know them today were only set into place 6000 years ago, and thus extrapolations from present day measurements exceeding this mark are erroneous.  Armed with this information, we then see that there is not even an appearance of antiquity because the entire scientific exercise was based on the erroneous premise that the natural laws of the universe extend back in time further than 6000 years.

To be continued (b'eh)

Rabbi Coffer's Magnus Animus

Below I am posting Rabbi Coffer's letter to me verbatim.  He is responding to my objection of his use of gratuitous insult and badgering in response to a question of mine.  The letter provides much insight.

Dear Yitz,

Gut voch and a gutten chodesh. Simcha Coffer here. I have a few minutes now so I am responding to your latest comment to me on the Analysis Blog.

You wrote: Wow. That comment is breathtaking in its sheer cluelessness. [editor's note - these words were penned by RSC]

From the great amount of time and effort invested, it is clear to all of us that RSC cares deeply about this issue. It is a pity that he has defiled this honorable effort with gratuitous insult and badgering.

I’m not sure if you’re interested in what I have to say but here it is nonetheless. Dr. Ostroff and I created this Blog specifically to alert people to what we feel are egregiously erroneous attitudes promoted by N. Slifkin on his, supposedly, “Rationalist” Blog. We are passionate about our “mission” and care deeply about the consequences of adopting what we feel are anti-Torah ideas. At the same time, we recognize the necessity of interacting with all people in a “menchlache” fashion. It is at this point that Dr. Ostroff and I diverge. If someone evinces boorishness and uncouthness, Dr. Ostroff tends to shy away from further interaction. I do not. Initially I respond respectfully. But if the behavior keeps up, I turn into a mirror. It is not done out of vindictiveness. It is pedagogic. Allow me to explain.

The Modern Orthodox world has somehow gotten into their heads that the Chareidi world is populated by a bunch of fundamentalist close-minded backward individuals. Naturally, anytime a Chareidi individual attempts to explain his POV to an eclectic audience, there are bound to be some vocal individuals who relate to him in a condescending manner, at best. This obviously undermines his attempts to convey his point to those who might otherwise be willing to seriously entertain his position. I’m sorry to say but this is precisely what you did!

You came onto my blog and made the following comment.

We can reasonably assume that an individual that has neither intellectual nor emotional prejudice to "Torah truths" will give credibility to the scientific consensus that RSC and colleagues dispute. So why aren't they bringing the issue up? Could it be that they don't aware that there is an issue here? If so, are we doing them a kindness by leaving them to their ignorance?”

This is a highly condescending remark to make in the first place. But in addition, you are making it 1) in public, 2) on a blog dedicated to disseminating Torah-true ideology, 3) speaking as if I am not present to hear your comment!

You are probably scratching your head trying to figure out precisely what was offensive about your comment. You know why? Because you are a victim of this insidious attitude of some MO Jews that Chareidi individuals are incapable of rational thought. Naturally your first instinct is to rid us of our “ignorance”. This attitude of yours has come across in more than one comment. This comment was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My response to you was not insulting. I admit that it was gratuitous but it was done so with a cheshbon. I decided that it was time for me to mirror your attitude in an attempt to reveal to you the inappropriateness of some of your remarks and the apparent bias which attends them.

I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes in disdain but I simply couldn’t let your final comment go without explaining to you the real motivations behind my “strong” response. It’s up to you to accept my explanation or reject it.

In closing, I’d like to mention that I certainly did not mean to insult you and regret any implication my words may have inadvertently conveyed to the contrary.

Be well,

Simcha Coffer

P.S. I hope to see you back on our Blog again. You were the first person to log a comment and, to be honest, Dr. Ostroff and I were very excited that someone bothered to read what we were saying.