כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי

Monday, July 26, 2010

OTD Depression and The Blame Game

It’s a common phenomenon that needs no further introduction: People who turn their back on Orthodox Judaism are often faced with depression. This is easily understandable, as they are often lonely and are left to their own devices.

However, they are often told that they brought their depression on themselves by distancing themselves from God and Klal Yisrael. It’s they who are messing up their lives and God who knows where they’ll end up (drugs, suicide, etc.). In short: It’s all their fault!

Alice Miller (in her book The Drama of the Gifted Child), defines depression as follows:

Depression consists of a denial of one’s own emotional reactions. This denial begins in the service of an absolutely essential adaptation during childhood and indicates a very early injury. There are many children who have not been free, right from the beginning, to experience the very simplest of feelings, such as discontent, anger, rage, pain, even hunger – and, of course, enjoyment of their own bodies.

Religion is all about denying true feelings, redirecting emotions and controlling the natural child within. Laws are ruling the orthodox person’s every step, even in the bathroom (how much you are allowed to uncover yourself, with which finger not to wipe yourself off, etc.).

Orthodox Jews are told what to read, what to believe, what to think and what to feel, what to wear and what to eat. Everything else is kfirah.

No wonder that many people have the inner need to rebel! To put it a little more blunt: if an Orthodox person did not rebel against OJ during their youth, I doubt it that they were really given the opportunity to experience their youth. After all, who wants to voluntarily let his inner self die?

The critical voices that so conveniently blame the victims also conveniently forget that people like them may have been the root cause for the heretics’ depression.

And that by ostracizing them from their communities, they are standing idly by the blood of their (former) brothers.

59 comments:

  1. > Depression consists of a denial of one’s own emotional reactions.

    It most certainly does not! At least, not if we are talking about clinical depression rather than just feeling down. If we’re just talking about feeling bad, then sure, repressing your true feelings may make people sad.

    > However, they are often told that they brought their depression on themselves by distancing themselves from God and Klal Yisrael.

    Which is absolutely true. Perhaps not in the mystical sense many frum people may mean, but in the sense that someone who went OTD chose to remove himself from the community. That doing so may have been the lesser of the two evils doesn’t mean he bears no responsibility for the decision.

    > And that by ostracizing them from their communities, they are standing idly by the blood of their (former) brothers.

    It would be nice if the Orthodox community was accepting of people who chose to leave, and on an individual level there are some who are, but as a community ostracizeing those who question and/or reject social norms is a good strategy for maintaining those norms. It is unfortunate, but it’s not likely to change.

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  2. "they are often lonely and are left to their own devices"

    Well that's interesting. Why aren't the new converts to atheism embraced by their new, warm, loving atheist comrades? Why aren't they thrilled to be far from their fanatic, secretly sexual and physically abusive Orthodox tormentors? Is it because atheists are generally selfish jerks while Orthodox Jews are generally very nice?

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  3. JP, your problem arises when you attempt to place atheism as a belief system or religion, or even as a community. Atheists are just like taxi drivers in this sense. Does every taxi driver concern himself with others problems? No. Also, many who are depressed don't show it on the outside.

    The Orthodox community has created a State of Fear of somewhat. When someone even considers living a different and a more fulfilling life for himself, he is either treated as someone who is sick and is going through a "phase" or in the worst case scenario they are excommunicated.

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  4. Atheism is nothing more than not believing in deities. Atheism doesn't have compensation packages for loss of belief in imaginary comforts and imaginary friends. Atheism is embracing reality no matter how uncomfortable it is.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "you attempt to place atheism as a belief system or religion"

    Of course it is, and a very bad one.

    "When someone even considers living a different and a more fulfilling life for himself, he is either treated as someone who is sick and is going through a "phase" or in the worst case scenario they are excommunicated."

    Which is what happens to an atheist when he converts to Orthodox Judaism.

    I just find it amusing. Atheists are constantly trying to trash the Orthodox Jewish community ("God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything", "The Root of All Evil?", "Religulous", etc ad nauseum.) But on the other hand atheists are often depressed and rely on substance abuse or other addictions to cope.

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  6. Orthodox Judaism is embracing reality no matter how uncomfortable it is.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Not only is there an atheistic religion, but there is apparently a flourishing community as well; see for example the Atheist Alliance International

    http://www.atheistalliance.org/

    In addition there are probably more atheists in the United States than Orthodox Jews.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#North_America

    But the problem of course is that by and large atheists are very selfish and unpleasant people.

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  8. Under no definition of religion, can atheism fit in.

    "Which is what happens to an atheist when he converts to Orthodox Judaism."

    What?

    "I just find it amusing. Atheists are constantly trying to trash the Orthodox Jewish community ("God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything", "The Root of All Evil?", "Religulous", etc ad nauseum.) But on the other hand atheists are often depressed and rely on substance abuse or other addictions to cope. "

    Hitchens apologized for his hole in the sheet comment in the paperback edition, in his new afterword.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Atheism is the belief that the Biblical God does not exist and evolution is our creator. Atheism is a belief system concerning spirituality, the afterlife, man’s origin and morality. It is organized in many national and international associations. If it's not a religion, I don't know what is.

    And when an atheist converts to Orthodox Judaism he is either treated by his former co-religionists as someone who is sick and is going through a "phase" or in the worst case scenario they are excommunicated.

    "Hitchens apologized"

    But he can't stop drinking to medicate his depression.

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  10. "Orthodox Judaism is embracing reality no matter how uncomfortable it is."

    Not according to historical reality, biblical scholarship, and archeology.

    Orthodox Judaism was nothing more than a political tool for the monarchy and priestly aristocracy of Judah. There is not an ounce of truth to it. The ancient Israelites of both kingdoms practiced polytheistic folk religions, which was the norm, not any type of Judaism. The TaNaKh is filled with state propaganda held together with legends that both Kingdoms recognized. OJ was a product of the state for unification.

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  11. "Atheism is the belief that the Biblical God does not exist"

    It's disbelief without evidence.....in ANY deity. Atheism does not deal with spiritualism or an afterlife, it only addresses DEITIES. However, if I was to ever believe in a creator of the entire universe I would expect this god not to be a complete bumbling idiot like the god of the bible.

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  12. G3: Alice Miller definitely was not part of mainstream psychology, so feel free to differ with her :)

    I agree that ultimately a person bears responsibility for his decision, but not for being ostracized in the sense that he has to calculate the damage against the gain but the ostracism is executed by the community.

    Hope that makes sense ;)

    JP: As mentioned before, leaving OJ does not mean leaving God and therefore your OTD = Atheism is absurd.

    Someone who 'opts out' does not choose a new community, he needs to redefine himself and start from scratch socially speaking since he was just barfed out by the orthodox community.

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  13. Please ignore JP everybody.

    I personally suffered from a low-grade, chronic depression (often called dysthymia) for a few years after leaving, and in fact it's not completely gone even today. It's just pretty traumatic to, just by leaving, disappoint your parents, lose your community, lose your sense of who you are, and have to learn how to make it out in the "real world." I recommend that nearly everybody who goes OTD get some therapy. I know it's helped me.

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  14. I also suffered from mental illness long before going OTD, and I suspect there is another angle to the correlation between the two. Human nature is that we believe the doctrines that we are taught from our parents and school, hence people born to Christians believe in Christianity etc. That "normal" and powerful process breaks down when we suffer mistreatment at their hands, with one by-product being mental illness, and another by-product is that we look for truth and happiness elsewhere.

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  15. The fact is that religion takes advantage of cognitive psychology. We don't have time or the power to explain to a 2 year old why they should not cross the street, but we tell them it's because we say so---you can probably explain it a 3 or 4 years old (you will get a boo-boo!), but not generally 1-2 years old. In the same sense of trust as they will take not crossing the street, they will slowly take in the idea of an omnipotent deity. Therefore, not many will leave.

    Orthodox Judaism is a religion of "Fear thy Neighbor". If you go OTD, you are a liability to your parent's image in the community, and must be excommunicated.

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  16. "Not according to historical reality, biblical scholarship, and archeology."

    Obviously, you know little about those subjects, as I demonstrate here.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/biblical-deluge.html

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/02/torah-and-archaeology.html

    "Orthodox Judaism was nothing more than a political tool for the monarchy and priestly aristocracy of Judah. There is not an ounce of truth to it."

    OK. So provide me with a detailed, reasonably plausible explanation for the origin of life and/or the origin of Judaism.

    "It's disbelief without evidence.....in ANY deity."

    That's a bad definition because no one can define deity.

    "Someone who 'opts out' does not choose a new community,"

    Of course not. Because atheists, wisely, do not trust each other and therefore have no community.

    "Please ignore JP everybody."

    Just live in denial. Very wise.

    "It's just pretty traumatic to, just by leaving, disappoint your parents, lose your community,"

    That doesn't seem to bother people converting from atheism to Orthodox Judaism.

    Here's another idea. Being evil and having a bad conscience is upsetting.

    "In the same sense of trust as they will take not crossing the street, they will slowly take in the idea of an omnipotent deity."

    It's actually probably inborn.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2008/nov/25/religion-children-god-belief

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_instinct

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  17. That doesn't seem to bother people converting from atheism to Orthodox Judaism.

    That's true of cults, too. Much harder, psychologically, to leave than to join.

    ReplyDelete
  18. JP, I can understand that future studies can show some of this stuff in genetics, HOWEVER, the idea of serving God with a complex religion like Judaism is indoctrinated, not inborn.

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  19. I don't know what you all guys have against Orthodox Judaism or any big religious groups ! You are judging out of anger and pain and suffering which is a natural reaction, however, it will always be that ONLY A MINORITY OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WILL BE TRULY RELIGIOUS. There is always more evil than good, just look at the world. A true orthodox Judaism would never push away a OTD person. A true Judaism would never create OTD people , would never push to become a zombie and a robot of practices and life. If there is a God and He gave directions to the world, it has to be beautiful, it has to bring people to achieve refinement of themselves, help them use their potential as an individuals, it has to make them become chosers and not followers. This is the Judaism I experience, I don't know what type of Judaism you experience but it doesn't seem to be the right one. no offense... As an orthodox Jew , my religion tells me to love every Jew and help everybody succeed in what they are meant to be...
    Peace and love to all of you !

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  20. "That's true of cults, too. Much harder, psychologically, to leave than to join."

    The Jonestown people didn't sound like happy campers, however.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown

    "the idea of serving God with a complex religion like Judaism is indoctrinated, not inborn."

    Atheism surely is indoctrinated.

    Here's a simple suggestion: Atheists feel badly because it's a bad religion.

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  21. The DEFINITION of religion is the service and worship of God or the supernatural. So your statement that atheism is a religion is wrong A PRIORI. I don't idolize people who are living or have lived, but I have respect for many of them: such as David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Antony Flew, Richard Dawkins and so many others. I don't worship them.

    I find the subject of God's existence to be philosophically fulfilling, so atheists join atheists and we discuss it. That does not make it like shul or church. I don't mind calling some parts of atheism as a community, the Atheist Alliance International is an example of a community of atheists that meet every year. Not because they have to, because they find the topic interesting. Comparing the non-belief in a deity to a religion is logically absurd.

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  22. > I don't know what you all guys have against Orthodox Judaism or any big religious groups !

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have nothing against Orthodox Judaism. I just don’t think it’s true.

    > ONLY A MINORITY OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WILL BE TRULY RELIGIOUS.

    No true Scotsman.

    > A true Judaism would never create OTD people ,

    That’s right, but not in the way that you meant. If Judaism was demonstrably true, it’s likely that very few people would reject it.

    > If there is a God and He gave directions to the world, it has to be beautiful, it has to bring people to achieve refinement of themselves, help them use their potential as an individuals, it has to make them become chosers and not followers.

    Why? Maybe God is a jerk Who gets a kick out of seeing people suffer as they try to keep all of his crazy laws.

    > As an orthodox Jew , my religion tells me to love every Jew

    If only more people practiced your religion!

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  23. Just incidentally, Alice Miller was herself a deeply troubled woman who seemed to basically believe that we are all victims of child abuse and if parents would just spoil their children, we would enter a messianic era.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/us/27miller.html

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  24. "The DEFINITION of religion is the service and worship of God or the supernatural."

    There are Buddhists and Scientologists who don't believe in a god.

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/budgod.html

    http://www.scientologymyths.info/cult-or-religion/do-scientologists-believe-in-god.php

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  25. Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. I would also like to distinguish religion from "cultural religion". For example, Larry David considers himself Jewish, but considers himself an atheist. It can go both ways.

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  26. "Obviously, you know little about those subjects, as I demonstrate here."

    I trust the scholars and reality. I'm not going to bother with your posts of pure nonsense. Genesis is nothing more than the Enuma Elish sans god battles, the flood is from Gilgamesh or an earlier myth source that both the Torah and Gilgamesh borrowed from, archeology proves that the vast majority of myths and legends of Torah never ever happened.

    You can keep deluding yourself into the magical fantasy world of Torah and an imaginary god, that's your crutch.

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  27. "That's a bad definition because no one can define deity."

    You can't define your deity? All you have is a big undefinable nothing outside the universe? So your god is literally nothing?

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  28. "Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion."

    It's really semantic hairsplitting. I could say Judaism is not a religion; it's an ideology or philosophy or simply the truth. There is not word for religion in Biblical Hebrew.

    "I trust the scholars"

    If you want an argument from authority, why not just trust the rabbis?

    "You can't define your deity?"

    I can define mine. But how do you define deities in general? Any non-human intelligence? What about an alien made from dark energy who can create a galaxy in a few seconds? Is that a deity? How do you know there are none?

    Atheism is the religion based on the belief that the Biblical God does not exist and evolution created us.

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  29. "If you want an argument from authority, why not just trust the rabbis?"

    It's more of an argument from evidence, which scholars in their fields have, unlike the rabbis who appeal only to the ancient myth book. Anyone who has studied ancient myths and religions can see right through Judaism, there isn't much original about it. Just a mix of surrounding Levantine myths.

    "I can define mine."

    Do it.

    "But how do you define deities in general?"

    God or Goddess

    "What about an alien made from dark energy who can create a galaxy in a few seconds? Is that a deity? "

    Possible. No less absurd than all the others, but no evidence and therefore no reason to believe it.

    "How do you know there are none?"

    No evidence = no reason to believe.

    "Atheism is the religion based on the belief that the Biblical God does not exist and evolution created us."

    Atheism is disbelief in all gods. You are an Atheist when it comes to all of the other thousands of possible gods but the one god you choose to believe in.

    Evolution and science has nothing to do with Atheism. One could be an Atheist and reject evolution.

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  30. "Anyone who has studied ancient myths and religions can see right through Judaism, there isn't much original about it."

    Ever heard of monotheism, altruism, the alphabet, the weekend, among other concepts since accepted by most of humanity?

    "Do it."

    Sure.

    He is infinite - in regards to time, space and strength.
    He is eternal, He is everywhere and He does everything.
    He has no physical form and His nature is entirely beyond our comprehension.
    [The essence of idolatry is the belief that God has some physical form or nature that can be understood by us.]

    What He does:
    He creates everything.
    He controls everything.
    He knows everything.

    What He does not do:
    He does not make mistakes.
    He does not have conflicting emotions.
    He does not cause pain unjustly.

    In summary: He is the Perfect Giving Being.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/12/higher-power-as-i-understand-him.html

    "No evidence = no reason to believe."

    So atheism means believing that no extra-terrestrial intelligence exists. Which is a new definition no one else has ever used and therefore is wrong.

    "One could be an Atheist and reject evolution."

    Can you name one?

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  31. "Ever heard of monotheism, altruism, the alphabet, the weekend, among other concepts since accepted by most of humanity?"

    All existed long before Judaism, not to mention Judaism's roots in polytheistic folk religions in both religions.

    "He has no physical form and His nature is entirely beyond our comprehension."

    So this god is a big invisible undefinable nothing = your god is literally nothing.

    "[The essence of idolatry is the belief that God has some physical form or nature that can be understood by us.]"

    The Torah can be idolatry. Rabbis are often idolized. What about the Cheribum and carved wood panels of Solomn's Temple? What about the Asherah tree (menorah) in every religious home and shul? What about the Asherah cakes (challah) and vulva shaped Purim cookies?

    "So atheism means believing that no extra-terrestrial intelligence exists."

    Not without evidence. The probability of it is very high, but one wouldn't posit the belief without evidence.

    "Can you name one?"

    No, because Atheism is linked to higher intelligence and so they accept scientific facts over ancient desert sheep herder myths.

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  32. "All existed long before Judaism"

    Sources please?

    "So this god is a big invisible undefinable nothing"

    How do you describe dark energy?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy

    Protons and electrons are also invisible.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=if-we-cannot-see-electron

    You have no problem believing in the invisible and indescribable, so long as it's not some Higher Power telling you what to do.

    "The Torah can be idolatry."

    You're confusing admiration with worship.

    "The probability of it is very high, but one wouldn't posit the belief without evidence."

    So you're saying gods probably do exist, yet you are still an atheist since you aren't yet sure??

    "No, because Atheism is linked to higher intelligence and so they accept scientific facts over ancient desert sheep herder myths."

    I think I prefer divine revelation to a myth created by a bitter old English amateur naturalist. "Origin of Species" was simply a popular book of atheistic propaganda, not a peer reviewed scientific article. Of course, scientists eagerly embraced it since atheism made them society's preeminent intellectuals rather than the clergy. Remember how all universities were primarily theological seminaries until about the the mid-19th century, and Darwin himself considered a career in the clergy as a young man.

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  33. "Sources please?"

    Sky father....look it up.

    "How do you describe dark energy? Protons and electrons are also invisible."

    I don't worship or devote my life to anything in the cosmos. That's the difference. I'm not a pantheist, that's for hasids.

    "You have no problem believing in the invisible and indescribable, so long as it's not some Higher Power telling you what to do."

    The difference is the cosmos is real and your deity is ancient mythology. Funny how this god was around all the time during a primitive age with a primitive people. Now in the modern age with 24/7 news and cameras everywhere god just never comes around. Funny that.

    "You're confusing admiration with worship."

    I don't think so. I've never seen Christians bury a ruined Bible before in an actual grave. Funny how you complete skipped all the idols in the Temple and all the images of Asherah Orthodoxers have today. I'll ask again, why do you have Asherah trees in your home and shul?? Why do you still bake fertility cakes to Asherah??

    "So you're saying gods probably do exist,"

    No, the probability of other intelligent life in the Universe is high.

    "yet you are still an atheist since you aren't yet sure??"

    I'm an Atheist because there is no evidence of any gods.

    "I think I prefer divine revelation to a myth created by a bitter old English amateur naturalist."

    You prefer the giant lucky rabbits foot in the sky because you can't deal with reality.

    "Remember how all universities were primarily theological seminaries"

    Remember when the Church controlled everything and you couldn't get admittance to university without professing the faith? Remember when anyone contradicting Church doctrine throughout the centuries was tortured, burned alive, or at the very least exiled from society?

    "Darwin himself considered a career in the clergy as a young man."

    Yes, and luckily he paid attention to what was going on and chose wisely to invest in science and reality and give up the myth.

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  34. Well, perhaps you can help me out a little since you're so well informed.

    Can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times? If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story? And can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal? How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?

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  35. A menorah by the way isn't a tree. Are you Jewish, by the way?

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  36. JP, I must point out what my favorite philosopher, David Hume, has said on the subject on the argument from design which you profess. Who the hell are you to say that something we KNOW is a human creation like a watch, because we have experienced, that we can parallel to that to the entire cosmos in which we have not experienced its creation?

    Watches are made all the time, and we see it. However the cosmos was ONE event, the big bang, which none of us experienced its beginning.

    http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/Hume.htm

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  37. Here's why Hume was wrong:

    We have never we have witnessed one example of a complex mechanism with many parts all working efficiently for a certain purpose come into existence spontaneously, without any intelligent designer. Therefore we know that machines such as the heart, the eye or the knee joint must have had an intelligent designer.

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  38. But you do not know they had to be designed, since you did not experience it as you have with a watch (and we have another way on how they were designed: Evolution by Natural Selection is a 'natural designer'.)

    I'm not saying it refutes the argument from design, but it gives me reason to think it is not convincing, and that is Hume's point.

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  39. "A menorah by the way isn't a tree."

    salvia palaestina

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  40. "unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times?"

    The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Torah are not identical and have many differences, even different law sets. For instance, the Samaritan Pentateuch has a different holy mountain and forbids polygamy.

    "If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story?"

    All of the tribes and both kingdoms shared many of the same legends and traditions even with their differences. This is exactly why you have doublets throughout the Torah. One story is from the Kingdom of Israel perspective the other is from the Kingdom of Judah perspective and they were later woven into a single account. No deity involved whatsoever. Notice how the Samaritans reject all of the political propaganda of the monarchy of Judah in the Tanakh. The only book they except outside the Pentateuch is Joshua, which is not the same as the Torah version and only because they share the same myth of the conquest of Canaan.

    "How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?"

    A watch is manufactured by men and I can go to a watch shop or factory and witness this, you have no evidence for your imaginary deity.

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  41. "since you did not experience it as you have with a watch"

    So what? A narrow-band radio signal, would be considered by scientists to be solid evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Narrow-band signals, say those that are only a few Hertz or less wide, are the mark of a purposely built transmitter. Purpose indicates intelligent design. Likewise regarding the heart, eye, knee, etc - purpose proves intelligent design.

    http://www.seti.org/Page.aspx?pid=558#a3

    "Evolution by Natural Selection is a 'natural designer'."

    I don't think so. Design and purposefulness cannot arise from random chance combined with some limiting selective mechanism. It would be like trying to create a library of beautiful literature through random printing errors and customer selection, as I've explained here.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

    "salvia palaestina"

    The menorah is a lamp. salvia palaestina is a bush which sometimes resembles a menorah. I don't see what this proves about anything. Potatoes sometime look like people. Like Mr. Potato Head.

    "The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Torah are not identical"

    Whatever. My question is "Can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times? If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story?"

    I'll take this as a "no".

    "A watch is manufactured by men and I can go to a watch shop or factory and witness this, you have no evidence for your imaginary deity."

    My question was "And can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal? How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?"

    I'll take this as a "no".

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  42. Evolution by natural selection IS NOT A RANDOM PROCESS. Just because something is not caused by a conscious being, does not make the result random. Natural selection takes away the randomness of evolution. If there is a need for a certain gene to be "turned on" for the species to survive--then the random thing happens. Whether it gets it or not. And the human body is not perfect FYI.

    SETI is looking for signals that are directly being pointed, something that cannot happen slap in middle of the cosmos. And any SETI scientist will tell you it's a needle in a galaxy (their chances.

    All Hume is saying is that you cannot come up with the same conclusion that you get from a house or a watch and apply it to the cosmos itself. And most open minded philosophers accept his critique. Same for when Kant flushed the cosmological and ontological arguments down the toilet.

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  43. "The menorah is a lamp. salvia palaestina is a bush which sometimes resembles a menorah. I don't see what this proves about anything. Potatoes sometime look like people. Like Mr. Potato Head."

    Except for the fact that archeology has revealed in the "high places" throughout both kingdoms the Asherah trees depicted as a center stem with three branches on each side. They are all the spitting image of the menorah carved on altars and offering bowls in polytheistic worship centers. Not to mention all of the times the Torah admits to the Asherah trees/poles being present in the Temple of Solomon.

    "Whatever."

    No, not whatever. The Samaritan Pentateuch has substantial differences from the Torah. Now I realize that you are simply using the typical prepackaged stale rabbi apologetics, but the material has long been disproven.

    "My question is "Can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times? If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story?"

    It fails due to the fact that there are substantial differences. However, underneath all these differences there is a shared core doctrine, tradition, and stories between the two. This does not prove any deity. Look at all the different Christian Bible canons and different sects and yet they roughly all believe the same core doctrines. Is this proof of Jesus as a deity? No.

    And ad populum fails.

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  44. "Evolution by natural selection IS NOT A RANDOM PROCESS."

    It is random chance events combined with a limiting external force creating the appearance of design. That's the concept. The fittest
    survive based on nature but arrive based on chance. In any case, the possibility of it working and creating the incredibly complex
    machinery of life is impossibly small. (How small cannot be accurately calculated because, for one thing, we don't know how complex life really is.) For more details, see my post

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

    or read "Not by Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution" by Lee M. Spetner

    http://www.amazon.com/Not-Chance-Shattering-Modern-Evolution/dp/1880582244

    This is besides the problem of the fossil record indicating catastrophism and not the gradual trial and error change of evolution.

    For example, see

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/28/science/28mari.html?_r=2&th=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&emc=th&adxnnlx=1164720474-9wG3xm996ABK8/LrDkrUgg

    We can use the same method to detect God that scientists are using to detect extraterrestrial intelligence: purposefulness = intelligence.

    http://www.seti.org/Page.aspx?pid=558#a3

    "The Samaritan Pentateuch has substantial differences from the Torah."

    The differences are trivial, with the exception of the Samaritan inclusion of Mount Gerizim in the Decalogue. (Not found in the Dead Sea scroll by the way.) The Exodus, Mount Sinai revelation, manna from heaven and in general the complete text of the Pentateuch are all there. Samaritan and Jewish Torahs are obviously both the work of one author and then changes crept into at least one version.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan_Torah#Differences_with_the_Masoretic_text
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan_Torah#Support_for_the_Masoretic_Text

    So apparently, if Ezra authored the Torah, he somehow convinced the Samaritans as well, although they were enemies of the Jews (see Ezra 4:1).

    There is no plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times. If there is no God, nothing could have compelled them to believe this story.

    The miracles of Jesus are believed, as Christians themselves admit, based on the testimony of the four Evangelists - "the gospel truth" - allegedly fulfilling the predictions of the "old" testament. There's no impenetrable mystery how the religion got started. Islam and Mormonism are the same basically. No need for millions of diverse and widely scattered people to all, like zombies, unanimously accept some leader's unbelievable claims.

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  45. "The differences are trivial,"

    Different law codes and holy places is hardly "trivial."

    "Samaritan and Jewish Torahs are obviously both the work of one author and then changes crept into at least one version."

    Obvious as long as you overlook all of the inconsistencies, the incorrect dating, the doublets, the triplets, the differences in dialects, the differences in writing styles, Moses writing about his own death and calling himself the most humble man alive (something you'd think the most humble man alive would not say about himself.) etc. etc.

    "if Ezra authored the Torah"

    Ezra was not an author, he is believed to be one of the Redactors. Unfortunately, when you have two different accounts and you are trying to merge them into a single account you have to placate both sides. Editing out too much on either side would cause major offense and division foiling the plans for unity of the Kingdoms. So you leave a great deal in......two Kingdoms, two perspectives, and doublet stories we have today.

    "There is no plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times."

    Shared core traditions and folktales.

    "If there is no God, nothing could have compelled them to believe this story."

    Myth is very powerful. Every society has their priceless folktales, legends, heroes, deities, etc. All of the people in the area shared these things long before Judaism came along. This is why ancient Mesopotamian myths are found embedded throughout the Torah.

    "There's no impenetrable mystery how the religion got started."

    Chabad messianism is a good model for how Christianity got started, it's been 14 years and still counting. Beyond that Trinitarian "Orthodox" Christianity as we know it today is a product of hand selected Bishops of the Emperors as a state enforced religion to unify the Roman Empire.

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  46. "Not by Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution" by Lee M. Spetner"

    His works are from the 1960's and they have been refuted. Spetner severely downplays natural selection (non-random) while focusing mostly on random mutations. In other words, he intentionally fudges the data. This would only be convincing to the choir.

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  47. "This is why ancient Mesopotamian myths are found embedded throughout the Torah."

    The idea that the first man was created from mud by a god and that there was a global flood are more or less universal myths, because, guess what, they actually happened.

    "Shared core traditions and folktales."

    That's not exactly "detailed" and in any case it should have produced two entirely different books, as different as the gospel of Mark and John for example.

    "Spetner severely downplays natural selection (non-random) while focusing mostly on random mutations."

    I don't think you've read the book. That wasn't my impression. In any case, there really is no precise data since we don't know how complex life really is and we have never observed it evolve (develop new limbs and organs).

    Anyway just saying "people are gullible and might believe anything" and "natural selection can create any apparently purposeful machine" is not quite what I would call detailed, reasonably plausible explanations. It's just some vague mumbo jumbo invented after the fact to justify what someone has already decided to believe. In other words, wishful thinking which is the basis of all false religions.

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  48. "The idea that the first man was created from mud by a god and that there was a global flood are more or less universal myths, because, guess what, they actually happened."

    Hardly universal, the majority of natives of the Americas did not have them as other tribes did not. You have only assumed this from Christian Europe that used the Torah. The Genesis creation story is a ripoff of the Enuma Elish sans god battles. The flood myth is either borrowed from Gilgamesh or both Gilgamesh and Torah borrowed it from an earlier source. Egypt also had stories of floods, but the reality was always localized flooding (delta) not a worldwide flood. It's no mystery that the Torah highly exaggerates on pretty much everything, if it isn't wholly myth to begin with.

    "That's not exactly "detailed""

    All that's necessary, no deities need apply.

    "and in any case it should have produced two entirely different books,"

    DOUBLETS!! Two entirely different books would NOT unify the two Kingdoms. Did you even read my post? It was explained in detail.

    "as different as the gospel of Mark and John for example."

    No Christian reads them as four entirely different accounts/theologies as they were written. They are essentially four different Christianities. None of the Gospel writers knew their accounts would end up side by side in a book to reveal contradictions only found with modern biblical criticism. Besides Matthew and Luke are derived from Mark and use Mark as their source material. The Gospels were constantly changed and harmonized over the centuries by the scribes. They are read as one single account by believers just like Torah regardless of the contrary evidence of biblical criticism. You also conveniently leave out that having the liberty to read the Bible and interpret it is still a relatively new freedom given that the Church had tight control over it for centuries. Biblical critics were usually tortured, burned, or exiled centuries.

    "That wasn't my impression."

    You are a member of the choir.

    "In any case, there really is no precise data since we don't know how complex life really is and we have never observed it evolve (develop new limbs and organs)."

    We have a pretty good idea, more-so than ancient desert sheep herders and their myths. At best all you have is a god of the gaps. Funny how whenever science shines a light on a gap we figure it out and no god is ever found. First god was in the sky, then god was in "the heavens" (space), and now that we have found no god in space he is conveniently moved "outside the universe." Theists just keep moving the goal post for the imaginary deity.

    "In other words, wishful thinking which is the basis of all false religions."

    I'm afraid the shoe is on the other foot and all world religions are false.

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  49. "DOUBLETS!!"

    But the Samaritans and Jews don't each possess just one half of the doublets. They all have the same book, with a few minor changes.

    Flood stories are probably the most widespread myths, simply because it did happen.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluge_myth

    "The Genesis creation story is a ripoff of the Enuma Elish sans god battles"

    Have you ever actually compared them? There is no more than at most a couple of coincidentally similar phrases. It's almost hard to imagine two more different stories.

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/blc/blc07.htm

    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0101.htm

    I am asking very seriously:

    Can anyone provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times? If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story? And can anyone provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal? How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?

    In response, I'm getting a few clichés probably cut and pasted from www.talkreason.org.

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  50. And incidentally, recent science has actually made atheism seem even less likely than was previously thought. Today we know that the universe was created from nothing, that it's almost impossible that universe has by chance laws which make life possible, that most vestigial organs are not, that subatomic particles behave in unpredictable ways.

    So you are left clinging to an atheism of the gaps "Well, if there is a God, why did He create males with nipples?" But the gaps keep getting filled in.

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  51. "But the Samaritans and Jews don't each possess just one half of the doublets. They all have the same book, with a few minor changes."

    Why would they? The Samaritans being in the Samaria would share the same core myths and beliefs of the other groups. They don't have the same book. There are quite a few large differences that you can't ignore like different law codes, different holy places, etc.

    "Flood stories are probably the most widespread myths, simply because it did happen."

    Keyword = myth. There is no evidence of a global flood.

    "Have you ever actually compared them? There is no more than at most a couple of coincidentally similar phrases. It's almost hard to imagine two more different stories."

    Nope. The world model in the Torah is exactly the Babylonian world model. Flat and round like a coin, an ocean underneath with pillars holding up the land, a solid dome firmament, the stars and sun (sun not considered a star in the Torah) and moon encased WITHIN the firmament, windows and floodgates of heaven, storehouses of snow and hail, the gods live above the firmament, etc. etc. The creation stories are identical where gods are swapped out with days and events they represent. Other gods are simply revised into other things, they're still found throughout the Torah.

    "In response, I'm getting a few clichés probably cut and pasted from"

    What you have gotten is reality, something you reject.

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  52. "Today we know that the universe was created from nothing, that it's almost impossible that universe has by chance laws which make life possible, that most vestigial organs are not, that subatomic particles behave in unpredictable ways."

    Even if any of this was true, and it isn't, but even if it was, NONE of this proves a supernatural god exists.

    "So you are left clinging to an atheism of the gaps "Well, if there is a God, why did He create males with nipples?" But the gaps keep getting filled in."

    Males have nipples because we are all born the same until the chromosomes determine our gender during development. It's a very simple way for nature to produce either gender from one template. Male nipples are not completely useless either as men do have some mammary tissue = it is possible for men to lactate.

    Isn't nature and reality amazing? No gods necessary.

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  53. "Why would they?"

    According to DH, the Samaritans should only possess the E document.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohist

    Actually, the Samaritan Torah is merely a slightly modified version of the Jewish Torah.

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Samaritan_Pentateuch#Differences_with_the_Hebrew_text

    "The world model in the Torah is exactly the Babylonian world model. Flat and round like a coin, an ocean underneath with pillars holding up the land, a solid dome firmament, the stars and sun (sun not considered a star in the Torah) and moon encased WITHIN the firmament, windows and floodgates of heaven, storehouses of snow and hail, the gods live above the firmament, etc. etc. The creation stories are identical where gods are swapped out with days and events they represent. Other gods are simply revised into other things, they're still found throughout the Torah. "

    I don't see anything like that in the translation of Enuma Elish.

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/blc/blc07.htm

    "No gods necessary."

    Fine. So provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times. If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story? And provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal. How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?

    I'm afraid that parroting a few atheistic slogans doesn't quite do it for me.


    Frankly, anonymous, I find your blind faith in atheism and hatred of monotheism to be rather quaint. It's really just early 20th century Marxism-Leninism according to which religion was imposed upon the lower class as a system of belief in that which is not verifiable by logic or the senses. This means that whoever believes in religion is substituting superstition for reason and allowing others to dictate to the believer what to believe and what not to believe.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_does_Lenin_view_religion_as_a_negative_influence_in_the_lives_of_common_people

    I guess that's in contrast to Communism, which is based on pure reason.

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  54. > So provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times.

    That is clever! Do you all see what he did? Only Jews who accept the Torah are “authentic” Jews, so acceptance of the Torah by authentic Jews is unanimous!

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  55. "According to DH, the Samaritans should only possess the E document."

    Not at all because a strict adherence to either "E" or "J" would have been followed only by the priestly elites and royal courts, not the common people who still shared traditions and beliefs. Israel would have been a very international multicultural Kingdom open to all. Israel had a much larger population, huge international cities, many different people from all over Mesopotamia, with an abundance of fertile farmland for production and prosperity. Judah would have been living in their shadow in an arid desert wasteland. Even Jerusalem's population would have been rather pathetic. Their chief business would have been herding, somewhat nomadic, and spending much time in Israel for trading meat and milk for other goods.

    "Actually, the Samaritan Torah is merely a slightly modified version of the Jewish Torah."

    I thought it was identical? What happened? In a day you've backslid to "slightly modified." Again, I don't consider different law codes and different holy places "slightly" different.

    "I don't see anything like that in the translation of Enuma Elish."

    That's because you haven't read it, nor have you studied the Babylonians.

    "So provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans"

    Since you are so big on the Samaritans as evidence than you should accept their belief that they are the only true keepers of the faith. Even the Samaritans claim that Judaism is tainted and revised by incorporating Babylonian beliefs. Doesn't sound so "similar" to me, not quite peas in a pod.

    "I find your blind faith in atheism"

    There is nothing to have faith in.

    "hatred of monotheism."

    As much as I hate the Lochness monster and werewolves.

    "I'm afraid that parroting a few atheistic slogans doesn't quite do it for me."

    I'm afraid your parroted incredibly dated and archaic apologetics sans evidence don't quite do it for me.

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  56. "Only Jews who accept the Torah are “authentic” Jews, so acceptance of the Torah by authentic Jews is unanimous!"

    It is a historical fact that Jews and Samaritans accepted the Torah as authentic from ancient until modern times. Atheists cannot explain this, proving that atheism isn't true.

    "That's because you haven't read it"

    Of course I did.

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  57. JP, I haven't gotten through all the comments yet, but intend to challenge some of your ill-informed contentions when I do so. However, before I start, there are two glaringly obvious mistakes you are making, such that I cannot continue to read without delineating them in the hopes that you are simply ignorant and not willfully disingenuous:
    1) Your babble about evolution was very misinformed. Not only did you misrepresent what the vast, VAST majority of extremely intelligent and scholarly experts believe, you arrogantly claim to see ‘holes’ in the already obfuscated theory. Here’s a thought: why don’t you post one of your questions on one of the MANY, MANY sites that are comprised of incredibly learned scientists that also happen to be atheists? I frequent many of them, so you can’t tell me they don’t exist. Better yet, ask your question on ANY reputable scientific forum, even one that is neutral with regards to religion. See how they respond to your earth-shattering discovery that there has been a global conspiracy, and that all scientists (foolishly thought of as pursuers of empirical truth) are really militant anti-theists that that are willing to lie, fabricate, and cover up anything that interferes with their clear agenda. OH WAIT… that role is probably best reserved for the religious. Never mind.
    I hate to sound so scornful, but I truly am. You mention the argument by design? Do you even KNOW how soundly that argument has been trashed? Have you ever done any research at all that didn’t serve to confirm your unfounded presuppositions? The argument by incredulity, the argument by design, the cosmological argument- these have all been dealt with and destroyed by supremely intelligent men. READ SOME OF IT. Only when you have absorbed all the vast tracts of knowledge on this complex subject can you even BEGIN to make assertions and assumptions.
    There have been so many debates between evolutionists and people like you, yet you are obviously ignorant of the opposition. You are going into an argument attempting to prove your own preconceived notions. Have you ever even taken a Science course? Because this is the DEFINITION of bad Science. Don’t attempt to classify it as anything but.
    Your attempts at ‘disproving evolution’ are symbols of a larger reality- that of religion clutching at straws and bad-mouthing all who dissent. This is a sad, sad place to find yourself.
    2) YOU SAID: ‘Fine. So provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation ….provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal… watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?’
    Not only have you again brought up hackneyed arguments that have had entire books devoted to their refutation (i.e watch/watchmaker analogy), you are asking US to provide evidence? We have many, many theories about Judaism sans divinity, each more likely than the next. But the burden of proof is not on us. The onus is on YOU to back up any of your claims with something that is logically viable. And yet you CANT. Instead, you go about trashing other much more substantiated theories. Understand that no one can go back in time and prove to you that x is exactly what happened. But there is more than enough reason to believe what atheists do.
    What I’m trying to tell you in a nutshell? DO SOME HOMEWORK. YOU are the one making extraordinary claims. As Carl Sagan famously said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But of course you’re smarter than Sagan… he was idiotic enough to postulate that a world without God was perfectly tenable! What a moron.
    If you were truly interested in the answers to your ‘questions,’ you wouldn’t be posting here. I would venture to say that very few scientists regularly frequent this blog.


    ….I can’t believe I’ve written so much. Please, don’t have made me waste my time. Genuinely think about the points I’ve brought up. Consider them. Open your mind to learning. Who knows, it might be a transformative experience.
    -Alex

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  58. jewish philosopher said, “So provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story?.”

    I fail to see anything remarkable here. From Shen et al 2004* [quote] A genetic study concluded from Y-chromosome analysis that Samaritans descend from the Israelites (including Kohanim, or priests), and mitochondrial DNA analysis shows descent from Assyrians and other foreign women, effectively validating both local and foreign origins for the Samaritans.[/quote]
    Basically both tribes had the same fathers and it is the males who decide the religion…

    And provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal. How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?”

    OK, the eye: A basic creature is blind and lives in darkness, one amongst them has a skin cell that mutates to be sensitive to light. This is an advantage – the creature will learn if its food is in the dark or in the light. Because it is well-fed, it is successful at breeding and fathers more, some of whom have several such mutated cells. Eventually the cells proliferate and lose their pigment and become more sensitive. This is really useful now it can detect if the shadow of something passes near it and can hide. Its lives longer as it is not eaten and its off-spring breed further; the cells concentrate light around one spot below the skin, and we have the first signs of a retina, etc. You can see where this is going, and it did.

    *Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages
    of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From
    Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence
    Variation

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