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Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Kuzari Hypothesis: Enormous, Easily Available Evidence?

A guest post by Anonymous
When debating the divinity of the Torah, Jewish apologists will inevitably bring up the Kuzari Hypothesis, a proof from mass revelation. Apologetics range from the simple "3 million people saw it so it must be true" to the more sophisticated arguments.

The simple version can be refuted by pointing out that the argument is simply circular reasoning:

  • We know the Torah is true because 3 million people saw the revelation.
  • How do we know that 3 million people saw the revelation?
  • Because the Torah says so and the Torah is true!

The more sophisticated version, as formulated by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, goes like this:

"Let E be a possible event which, had it really occurred, would have left behind enormous, easily available evidence of its occurrence. If the evidence does not exist, people will not believe that E occurred."

What he is saying is that people will not believe in an event if there should be evidence of the event but that evidence is lacking. He calls it the Kuzari Principle.

Does Gottlieb provide any evidence for this principle? Not really. It seems to be merely an Argument from Ignorance on his part. He does point out that there are no parallels. But that's simply a red herring. The existence of parallels is irrelevant. What we need is evidence of this hypothesis's truth.

Moreover, it seems that we actually have evidence that the hypothesis is false. Millions of Jews and Christians believe in a worldwide flood and a mass exodus of Jews from Egypt. These events, had they occurred for real, would have left enormous easily available evidence behind. But they didn’t. Yet people still believe in it anyway.

Most will try to rationalize away the evidence for these historical events by claiming that "it was a miracle so it didn't leave evidence behind". Similarly, when presented with the revelation story, the ancient Israelites would have reasoned that the sinful ways of their forefathers, who were idol worshippers, caused them to forget the revalation.

Let's further analyze Gottlieb's hypothesis.

What does Gottlieb mean by "enormous, easily available evidence"? The Jewish tradition? I'm not sure how that could be enormous evidence. And as for easily available, most of the people in those days didn't have a clue of their own history. How many people these days know what their ancestors were doing 500 years ago? And this is in the age of modern recording and documentation!

So in sum, what we have is a story, written in one book by one or more unknown authors, that many people believe to be true. Judaism is no different than any other religion in this regard.

This blog post is has only focused on one aspect of the argument. Much more can be said about it, including the process of myth formation, the gaps in Jewish tradition, and the presence of parallels.

101 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I do not agree with him for other reasons, but to defend him in thia case: Rabbi gotleib's claim is that if the kuzari principle does not apply, we would expect other such false accounts to arise from other groups.
    He bases it on a premise that there is pressure for similar false accounts to arise (he gives reasons), if we don't see such accounts arising, then there must be something suppressing them. The kuzari principle, according to him, is by far the best explanation for why the development of such accounts is being suppressed

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    1. "if we don't see such accounts arising, then there must be something suppressing them"

      We indeed don't see these accounts because these claims are hard to make and even harder to prove.

      But the 'proof' is all based upon an *existing" event of a mass revelation. Since thee whole claim of the mass revelation is based upon scripture itself, this is not externally proven and therefore circular logic. So there possibly never was such an event, nowhere.

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    2. The book is just the venue through which this historical account was passed over. (The tradition says that the book is true)

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    3. Not true. The book is the only account as far as I know since we don't get this story passed down as 'our forefathers received the torah' but as 'the torah says...'. Also, we know there were times that the Torah was forgotten. So the Torah is really your only source.

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    4. So at some point all Jews conspired together and said "This book was given to us by our forefathers." although they knew that it wasn't. Highly implausible.

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    5. @undercover, I do not get your first point.
      Your second point, though, is a great point. Gotleib actually does address it in an essay, I'm not sure what he says though.

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    6. @jacob, straw man, if you don't know what that is, Google it.
      You yourself provide a better explanation in a later comment.

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    7. Not a straw man. A rock solid man and atheists must accept this unbelievable story.

      Although I guess if you can believe that life originated spontaneously in no time at all, although scientists are still light years from doing the same feat in a laboratory, you can believe almost anything.


      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/life-may-have-started-300-million-years-earlier-than-thought/


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  3. One fundamental problem with Rav Gottlieb's version is there is no evidence for a mass Exodus. His evidence is collective memory which is not reliable. See http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2015/11/kuzari-argument-part-7.html

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  4. When I first came across R' Gottlieb's formulation of the Kuzari priciple I was really impressed. For a few days I really thought that maybe I was wrong. Maybe, finally, I had found a good reason to re-examine Judaism and Orthodoxy. Then, to my disappointment, I realized that when he talks about, "E," what he really means is, "matan Torah." He discounts any similar claims from other cultures because they aren't exactly like matan torah.

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  5. Larry Tanner has long since put paid to Gottlieb's formulation.

    http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/07/definitively-refuting-kuzari-principle.html

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  6. Pygmies also claim something to Sinai see http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2015/08/kuzari-part-5.html

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  7. Well, here's the problem. If the Torah's account of the exodus and Mt Sinai are bogus, who made it up?

    The most plausible scenario might be something like this:

    A group of a few thousand Semitic slaves escaped from Egypt about 3,300 years ago under the leadership of an Egyptian nobleman named Moses. After they settled in the highlands of Palestine, these Israelites as they called themselves, began retelling and embellishing the story of their escape. Numerous different versions arose. Other Canaanites joined the Israelite community. The community grew. Versions of the story became more and more fantastic. Moses became a great lawgiver and miracle worker. Ten Plagues struck the Egyptians. Ten Commandments were given at a mountain in Sinai. In the time of King Josiah, these stories, as well as Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, were edited and became closer to their present form. Finally, a couple of centuries later, Ezra the Scribe finalized the Hebrew Bible, which was then universally accepted by Jews (Nehemiah 8:1). Ezra had the power (Ezra 7:26) to punish all those who disagreed with him. The Samaritans as well, enemies of Jews (Ezra 4:1), for some reason decided to accept the Pentateuch, although no other Biblical writings.

    The main problem with this story is, if this is true, how were all the earlier versions, which were in the possession of the tens of thousand of Jews throughout the Persian Empire, and the Samaritans too, immediately, totally and silently disposed of once Ezra presented his scroll? The followers of Ezra should have been busy for many years destroying other versions. We know that the early church leaders had to suppress many apocryphal gospels and some have survived to the present. Something similar even happened with the Koran. In Judaism as well, certain books, such as the Book of Ben Sira, were excluded from the Biblical canon and banned. However there isn’t even a record of any command to disregard other versions of the Pentateuch; they are simply unmentioned anywhere, as if they never existed. We again must believe that all Jews, and Samaritans, unanimously and immediately agreed to lie and to say, “This is the only scroll of the Law of Moses which we received from our forefathers”, although they knew that it wasn’t. They unanimously remained silent about all other traditions, apparently due to the nearly superhuman powers of Ezra.

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    1. Why would you expect any other copy of the story to be passed down? We have almost no literature passed down from that era. The Torah was passed down because there was a religious mandate that it be passed down. It's also worth noting that any other document containing other versions of the story were merly historical records, unlike that of the torah, which was canonized (made holy and became a religious document)

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    2. Just as there were many versions of the life of Jesus handed down among Christians and many versions of the life of Muhammed handed down among Muslims, there should have been many versions of the life of Moses handed down among the Jews, if the stories were fabrications of numerous storytellers over numerous generations.

      In fact of course, the Torah is not fabrication but divine revelation.

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    3. If you want to make a comparison to the hadith, use the midrash. The are many discrepancies within the midrash. Perhaps many of them are based on earlier versions of the torah. However. You cannot use the fact that there are no competing torahs as proof, because there is no reason to expect a competing torah to have been canonized.

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    4. The Samaritans were bitter enemies of Ezra and the Jews. They would surely not have accepted a Torah authored by him. And even among Jews, spread throughout the Middle East, suppressing other texts would surely have been almost impossible.

      And if there never were any other versions, Ezra just invented it all from thin air, surely no would have believed this never before heard story contradicting entirely whatever history the Jews had previously.

      The midrashim are clearly labeled as interpretations of the Torah, not alternative Torahs.

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    5. "Well, here's the problem. If the Torah's account of the exodus and Mt Sinai are bogus, who made it up?"

      It's the classic Argument From Incredulity fallacy:
      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity

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    6. We all agree that someone wrote it. So if not God, what's the alternative? If there is no alternative, then we assume God did it.

      There are plenty of people in prison because they had the motive and the opportunity and no other realistic suspect exists.

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    7. 1) why do you suppose the Samaritans were enemies of the jews all throughout the second temple (the span of time in which they were living side by side with the jews and could have adapted their religion)
      2) the Torah could have been written by someone much before Ezra too. Perhaps during the first temple (perhaps I am wrong on this account, I have not gone through the evidence that scholars claim to have that Ezra wrote the Torah)
      3) about the jews, you're making an assumption that 1) the other accounts were texts, 2) the other accounts were holy (of they weren't holy, there's no reason they would object to the possibly that they're were no mistake) 3l even if most jews did reject Ezra'a torah, those people did not survive as a nation, so there's no reason we should have any remnants of them.
      The midashim are labeled as a mix between interpretations of the torah, and stories passed down (torah sheb'al peh)

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    8. There are two options for the authorship of the Torah: God or Ezra.

      The preponderance of evidence lies with God being the author and that suffices to convince me to be Torah observant.

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  8. In regards to Islam, I am primarily referring to the Hadith, which include everything known about Muhammed himself and are a source of immense contraversy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith#Shia_and_Sunni_textual_traditions

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  9. Additionally, based upon the Watchmaker Principle, it's obvious that God made us.

    If God made us it seems quite possible that he would have informed us of what he wants us to do with our lives. Furthermore that revelation would be made publicly since a private revelation has no credibility.


    Therefore the Mt Sinai event may be accepted as factual even with only moderate evidence.

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    1. Let's agree with your first premise for now.

      Why would you expect an all powerful god to want us to do certain things, in fact, it's unexplainable why such a God would have created us altogether.
      If God would necessarily give humans commandments through a revelation, what happened to the billions of non jews?

      If we should believe that a revelation occurred even with moderate evidence, then why should you be under the impression that a revelation is necessary all together? The idea of a revelation being necessary is rooted in the idea that strong evidence is necessary to authenticate the word of God.

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    2. The more likely something is, the less evidence is needed to make a convincing case that it happened. Therefore not a great deal of evidence is needed to prove Mt Sinai.

      Why specifically the Israelites and why specifically Mt Sinai? That was the only time and place where there were a sufficiently large number of people who were prepared to obey God. There isn't too much point in God revealing what he wants to people who will ignore him.

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    3. Apparently it's not very likely to occur, otherwise we would have much more such cases in history.
      (Unless you say that you independently have sufficiant reason to claim that that the Jews in the dessert were the only group in history that were gathered and prepared. But even if that is the case, god was the one that allegedly gathered and prepared the jews, so why has it not done so with other nations? Were back to square one, obviously god does not necessarily reveal itself, (with a set of laws) to people it created.)

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    4. Once is enough. And that one time may well have been the one appropriate occaision.

      I live in Rockland County, NY. On only one occaision has a sitting president visited Rockland County, Gerald Ford during the 1976 election campaign. It isn't hard to believe that one time in history a president visited Rockland County, therefore just because I'm telling you it happened may convince you.

      Telling you that right now President Obama is having lunch with me would seem a little less likely and require more evidence.

      Telling you that I am having lunch with President Washington who has been dead over two hundred years would be so incredible that almost no amount of evidence would suffice.

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  10. Ok, now you are changing your argument, your original claim was that by default the story would not be believed because of moderate evidence. Only because we expect such things to happen (revelations) do we disregard the fact that the evidence is moderate. However, if things like this haven't happened any other time, then it would seem to indicate that we should not necessarily expect such things to happen. (A good comparison would be: suppose you claim that president Obama had lunch with you. I'd be skeptical. But then someone i trust tells me that you are the only person that has the means to convey a message from the president to the country. Then suddenly I'd maybe believe you. But then, if I find out that no other president has contacted you before, I'll have to reconsider the premise that you are the only person with the means to convey a message from the president, the minute I reconsider that position, I'm forced to reconsider whether you are lunch with the Obama all together.)

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  11. It's very simple, the more likely something is, the less evidence is needed to prove it.

    Of course, in regards to determining whether or not something happened in the past, there is no time machine and it's a personal judgement call. Millions of people simply cannot believe that the Germans could have built gas chambers at Auschwitz. It's impossible that such fine, civilized people could have done something so horrific. I believe it, but that's my opinion.

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  12. I will repeat again. Why do you suppose it's likely that a mass revelation occurred? If it's because if God created a person, then it would be expected that god would communicate with the person (either directly, or through a group that the person would believe - eg ancestors), then why do we not have any communications between god and the other 99.8 percent of the people?
    The obvious conclusion is that we should not expect such a communication to have occurred. If we should not expect it, then why do you say that it is likely? The less likely it is to have occurred, the more evidence we need the authenticate it.

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  13. Does the president of a country make a one time public announcement of a new law or does he send out personal letters to everyone?

    I agree that there are all sorts of ways that God could have told man what he wants, but apparently he picked this one.

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    1. Bad comparison:
      Firstly, what was conveyed on the revelation does not apply to the rest of the nations. So god did fail to address the rest of the world.

      Secondly, The president is expected to make laws, so, in line with your earlier reasoning, we only need moderate evidence that the president said it.

      Thirdly, even if the siani revelation was expected to be repeated to the rest of the world, there no comparison to your story, because in your story it was said in a speech to a group of people that the president expected would repeat it to the rest of the country.
      A better comparison would be the say that the speech was given to a group of isolated Eskimos who had almost no contact to the rest of the country. Many years later, some of the Eskimos migrate to the center of the country, where they reveal the law to the rest the of people. (Nobody would believe them because the president should have given the speech to people that would be expected to spread the word.)

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    2. God spoke to the only large group of people at the only the time they all wanted to listen.

      I don't see you rushing to listen to God, Mr Yossi.

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  14. I just wrote a new post on the Kuzari. I think Rabbi Gottleib is overlooking a critical issue that make his Kuzari principle irrelevant. We just dont know what the first generation of ancient Israelites beleived. http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2015/11/kuzari-argument-part-8.html

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  15. My problem with the alternative explanations for the authorship of the Torah (meaning basically: Ezra wrote it) is that no one can explain why all Jews living throughout the Middle East and the Samaritans who were enemies of the Jews all accepted it as authentic.

    Atheists have to assume that the Torah is based on some legends of events which really happened and there should have been as many versions of the life of Moses as there were of the life of Jesus

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Gospels

    and the life of Mohamed

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith#Different_schools

    (the Quran by the way almost does not mention Mohamed; it's a selection of poems mainly dealing with modified versions of Old and New Testament stories and beliefs)

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  16. Regarding Samaritans - From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan_Pentateuch

    “Modern scholarship connects the formation of the Samaritan community with events which followed the Babylonian Captivity. One view being that the Samaritans are the people of the Kingdom of Israel who separated from the Judaites (people of Judah).[9] Another view is that the event happened somewhere around 432 BCE, when Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, went off to found a community in Samaria, as related in Neh. 13:28 and Josephus Antiquities XI.7.2; 8.2. Josephus himself, however, dates this event and the building of the temple at Shechem to the time of Alexander the Great. Others believe that the real schism between the peoples did not take place until Hasmonean times when the Gerizim temple was destroyed in 128 BCE by John Hyrcanus.[10] The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch, its close connections at many points with the Septuagint, and its even closer agreements with the present Hebrew text, all suggest a date about 122 BCE.[11]”

    That the “samaritans’ have a similar torah like us does not imply our Torah or theirs are from Moshe. It just means both groups accepted a similar text . Scholars also think the Samaritan text was redacted. Given the wiki info above why cant the Torah be redacted around the time of Ezra and the Samaritans adopting/adapting it ?

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    1. Jacob Stein pls check out this discussion about Samaritans http://kefirahoftheweek.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-book-of-devarim.html)

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  17. There is also some discussion here http://kefirahoftheweek.blogspot.com/2015/11/vort-switching-shmuel-and-shaul.html

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  18. Jacob Stein - Basically Ezra wrote - is not quite the current understanding of how the Torah came to be. More likely there were ancient scrolls and oral traditions evolving over time. These are combined, edited, modified etc: by various redactors - call them authors if you like. Ezra could well have been a major redactor.

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  19. The Samaritans were enemies of the Jews in the time of Ezra and it's inconvcievable that they would have discarded whatever texts or legends they had and accepted his book as divinely authored.

    "Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building a temple unto the LORD, the God of Israel; then they drew near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of fathers' houses, and said unto them: 'Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up hither.'" Ezra 4:1-2

    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt35a04.htm

    The references to Josephus don't seem to be connected with the schism between Jews and Samaritans, but rather with why the Samaritan temple was built on Mount Gerizim.

    Now when John had departed this life, his son Jaddua succeeded in the high priesthood. He had a brother, whose name was Manasseh. :Now there was one Sanballat, who was sent by Darius, the last king [of Persia], into Samaria. He was a Cutheam by birth; of which stock were the Samaritans also. This man knew that the city Jerusalem was a famous city, and that their kings had given a great deal of trouble to the Assyrians, and the people of Celesyria; so that he willingly gave his daughter, whose name was Nicaso, in marriage to Manasseh, as thinking this alliance by marriage would be a pledge and security that the nation of the Jews should continue their good-will to him.
    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0146%3Abook%3D11%3Awhiston%20chapter%3D7%3Awhiston%20section%3D2

    And then Sanballat promised him not only to preserve to him the honor of his priesthood, but to procure for him the power and dignity of a high priest, and would make him governor of all the places he himself now ruled, if he would keep his daughter for his wife. He also told him further, that he would build him a temple like that at Jerusalem, upon Mount Gerizzini, which is the highest of all the mountains that are in Samaria; and he promised that he would do this with the approbation of Darius the king.
    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0146%3Abook%3D11%3Awhiston+chapter%3D8%3Awhiston+section%3D2

    The documentary hypothesis is unbelievable.

    Imagine that I today would sit down at a computer and cut and paste verbatim paragraphs from the Torah, New Testament, Koran and the Book of Mormon and then publish that as the Universal Divine Book, found by me in a remote cave in Tibet. I might gain a few gullible followers, however it would be absurd to suggest that all Jews, Christians, Muslims and Mormons would join my new religion so unanimously and enthusiastically that their own scriptures would be completely lost and forgotten to future generations.

    Advocates of the Documentary Hypothesis point out that different parts of the Torah are written in different styles. There is a simple explanation for this. The Talmud many times mentions God’s two character traits – the trait of mercy and the trait of justice. Mercy is represented by the name YHVH while justice is represented by Elohim (see Midrash Braishis Rabbah 73:3). The Talmud Tractate Megilah 31b states that Deuteronomy was written by Moses – it is a speech given by Moses, rather than having been simply dictated to him by God. Based upon this, we can understand why different portions of the Torah are written in different styles although they actually have a Mosaic authorship. Rather than refuting the single authorship of the Torah, Bible critics have merely rediscovered the midrash.

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    1. @ Jacob Stein I really suggest you read Spinoza discussion why the Torah was not likely written by Moshe and or G-d at a single point in time. It is not simply about different names for G-d 'J' and 'E'. Spinoza comes to the conclusion based on Ibn Ezra's secret of the twelve but adds so much more.

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    2. Jacob Stein writes - “The Samaritans were enemies of the Jews in the time of Ezra and it's inconvcievable that they would have discarded whatever texts or legends they had and accepted his book as divinely authored.”

      The Samaritan issue is very complex and there is so much uncertainty regarding their relationship to the Jews. It is an issue I have not studied in great depth. Have you ? Some scholars advocate they are a sect of Israelites. The Samaritans claim they are from 2 of the tribes. Maybe they were a mixture of some immigrants and some of the Israelite tribes. Maybe they were a late break away sect from Judaism. Nobody today advocates Ezra wrote the whole Torah from scratch - he likely compiled and edited prior existing scrolls - some of those scroll perhaps already extant among the Samaritans - so there are points of contact.

      There are thousands of differences between the Samaritan Torah and our Torah. It does not seem they accepted Ezra’s edition. But if they had accepted Ezra’s edition they changed it at a later date.

      I don’t know the exact date of Ezra’s edition nor do I know when the Samaritans and Jews became ‘enemies’. Maybe they became enemies sometime after they accepted something similar to “Ezra’ edition. Even if they were ‘enemies’ prior to Ezra’s compilation, they had already accepted Judaism more or less. They could have been enemies, but not with respect to sharing a more or less common theology. If they heard there was an official Torah edition why should they not accept it - more or less ?
      Bible scholars have determined the Torah was written over many generations. They have also concluded the Samaritan text went thru a redaction process.

      Regardless of the Samaritans or the DH theories - The evidence that the Torah was not given or written at a single time and that is was not written by a single person is overwhelming. See Spinoza why

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    3. The fact that the Torah is in the possesion of the Samaritans (with only minor deviations) and that it makes no mention of Jerusalem puts it authorship at latest in the time of Samuel, about 400 years after the Exodus.

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    4. 1) Nobody aside for you is insisting that the Torah could have only been written by Ezra. However, it seems highly plausible that it was finalized in his time but based on earlier works.
      2) the fact that it was in possession of the Samaritans means that their version and the Jewish version had the same origin: (bear in mind that they were not necessarily enemies of the Jews throughout the 2nd temple so even if it was finalized by Ezra, they had a good few hundred years to get it. (think, the US and Japan are allies after being bitter enemies merely 70 years ago)
      3) why would you expect it to have mentioned Jerusalem? And, if that's a reason to authenticate it, then the arguement can be made that the author left or out precisely so people should believe it.

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    5. The secular consensus is that Ezra created Judaism as we know it. Which is especially odd when you consider how little emphasis Judaism puts on Ezra. If you asked the average orthodox Jew what he knows about Ezra, he probably couldn't say more than two or three general facts.


      The Samaritans have always been bitter enemies of the Jews. In fact the ten tribes who preceded them were enemies of Judah after the schism following Solomon.


      The lack of any mention of the most holy city in Judaism implies that the Torah was authored before the time of David. In fact the one major difference in the Samaritan Torah is that they include a reference to Mount Gerizim right in their ten commandments.

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  20. @ Jacob Stein - Per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan_Pentateuch"The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch, its close connections at many points with the Septuagint, and its even closer agreements with the present Hebrew text, all suggest a date about 122 BCE." Read the reference. Earlier Scholars place it 4th century BC, but now the Scholars are advocating early Maccabean period.

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  21. Jacob Stein "The secular consensus is that Ezra created Judaism as we know it." A better wording is according to some Scholars Ezra was an important influence in the direction Judaism took. He also had the backing of the Persian empire - this gave him great influence.

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  22. @ Jacob Stein "They could have been enemies, but not with respect to sharing a more or less common theology. " NO use repeating all I have written above.

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  23. @ Jacob Stein - even if the Torah is Pre-David as you claim - so what ? Ibn Ezra and the follow up by Spinoza make a very convincing argument the Torah is not entirely Mosaic in origin.

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  24. @ Jacob Stein - BTW there are some 6000 differences in the Samaritin Bible. Will the real Bible please stand up.

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  25. "The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch, its close connections at many points with the Septuagint, and its even closer agreements with the present Hebrew text, all suggest a date about 122 BCE."

    Citing that here is a logical fallacy known as question begging, to assume the conclusion of an argument in the premise.

    Assuming that the Torah is not of Mosaic origin, the Samaritans must have adopted it at very late date, which means that the Samaritans possession of the Torah does not prove it is of Mosaic origin.

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  27. @ Jacob Stein writes "Assuming that the Torah is not of Mosaic origin..." Nobody is making such an assumption. The evidence for the Torah not being of Mosaic origin is as bright as the Sunshine in noon. So wrote Spinoza. I really suggest you study Spinoza's reasons with the Torah in front of you and with no preconceived assumptions. Otherwise you will be guilty of begging the question.

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  28. @Jacob Stein - the determining the origins of the Samaritan Bible seem difficult and there are probably differing opinions. Here is a citation that is similar to some ot he possibilities I or Yossie suggested: From the same Wiki article - Scholars have tended to presuppose that the Samaritan Pentateuch consists of two "layers", one composed of the sectarian variants introduced by Samaritan scribes and a second layer reflecting the text's earlier transmission history as a "pre-Samaritan" Palestinian local text. In light of recent research "it is now clear that the Samaritan layer is very thin."[47] Although the majority of scholars continue to favor the Masoretic as a superior text, many other scholars have now adopted Kahle's thesis.[19] Scholars now widely agree though that many textual variants previously classified as "Samaritan" actually derive from even earlier phases of the Pentateuch's textual history.

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  29. @ Jacob Stein - from same Wiki article "Frank Moore Cross has described the origin of the Samaritan Pentateuch within the context of his local texts hypothesis. He views the Samaritan Pentateuch as having emerged from a manuscript tradition local to Palestine. The Hebrew texts that form the underlying basis for the Septuagint branched from the Palestinian tradition as Jews emigrated to Egypt and took copies of the Pentateuch with them. Cross states that the Samaritan and the Septuagint share a nearer common ancestor than either does with the Masoretic, which he suggested developed from local texts used by the Babylonian Jewish community. His explanation accounts for the Samaritan and the Septuagint sharing variants not found in the Masoretic and their differences reflecting the period of their independent development as distinct Egyptian and Palestinian local text traditions.[3] On the basis of archaizing and pseudo-archaic forms, Cross dates the emergence of the Samaritan Pentateuch as a uniquely Samaritan textual tradition to the post-Maccabaean age.[46]"

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  30. @ Jacob Stein one reason some scholars advocate a later date for the Samaritan Pentateuch (or at least some parts of it) has to do with the spelling practices in the Samaritan text are of a later style than the Masoretic text.

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  31. @ Jacob Stein - the dates scholars are using refer to the final redaction of the Samaritan text - not that the text has no earlier scroll as it's basis.

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  32. "Assuming that the Torah is not of Mosaic origin..." Nobody is making such an assumption. The evidence for the Torah not being of Mosaic origin is as bright as the Sunshine in noon. So wrote Spinoza. I really suggest you study Spinoza's reasons with the Torah in front of you and with no preconceived assumptions. Otherwise you will be guilty of begging the question.

    Ok, I read it.

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/spinoza/treat/tpt12.htm

    Now are you aware that within five minutes, any intelligent, open-minded person can be convinced that the Holocaust gassings of World War II are a profitable hoax? And here is proof as bright as the Sunshine in noon.

    http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/holohoax.htm

    How do I deal with those Holocaust denial proofs?

    The way I deal with it is quite simple.

    Regarding any event in the past, even events within living memory such as Auschwitz, we have no time machine which can take us back there and personally observe what happened. Instead we must depend on such things as physical evidence, written records and spoken testimony and then judge, in our own minds, where the prepondance of evidence lies. Obviously, the more likely something is to have happened, the lower the level of evidence needed to establish it as fact.

    Regarding the Holocaust, the evidence is in my opinion clearly, overwhelming on the side of six million Jews murdered. The "mountains of evidence" presented by Holocaust deniers are mole hills made into mountains by people who hate Jews.

    The Watchmaker Principle proves that God made us. Since God made us, it is likely that God would have told us what he wants us to do. Furthermore it is likely that the revelation would have been public since a private revelation has no credibility. The only alleged public revelation of the Creator's instructions to mankind is the revelation at Sinai. In spite of Spinoza's questions, the preponderance of evidence remains on the side of the Torah being authentic. The mountains of evidence disproving the divine authorship of the Torah are mole hills made into mountains by people who don't want God telling them what to do.

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    1. Jacob, yes, the watchmaker was Marduk king of all gods, and he wrote enuma eilish and the hammurabi code and delivered it via mass revelation ten thousand years before the supposed revelation at Sinai. Why would you follow the torah and not the texts that far more people claim are authentic and god given, and predating the torah?

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    2. 1) Why do take it as a premise that someone would surely believe that the Holocaust happened despite the fact that they do not believe in the divinity of the Torah?
      2) regarding the first half of the third paragraph, you are using the same argument you used in an earlier comment thread. why are you repeating without addressing the issues that were raised with it.

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    3. Jacob Stein Thanks for reading the Spinoza and thanks for the link. http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/spinoza/treat/tpt12.htm

      It continues here http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/spinoza/treat/tpt13.htm


      Regardless of the Kuzari argument, Holocaust deniers etc: you have to deal with the arguments Spinoza presents. Good Luck.

      Jacob Stein writes “The Watchmaker Principle proves that God made us.”

      IMHO Argument for design is very flawed. See http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/08/proof-of-god-through-design.html

      Jacob Stein writes “Since God made us, it is likely that God would have told us what he wants us to do.”

      Actually it is most likely humans evolved from prior primates. This is supported by the fossil record, genetic evidence and so much more. But lets assume G-d made us. Why do you claim it is likely that God would have told us what he wants us to do. Maybe G-d wants us to figure things out for ourselves.

      Jacob Stein writes “The only alleged public revelation of the Creator's instructions to mankind is the revelation at Sinai.

      My blog posts on the Kuzari have at least two similar claims - Pygmies and White Buffalo Calf Women. Start here http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/07/kuzari-principle-or-argument-part-i.html

      Yet even if your claim is true - SO WHAT. Again read my kuzari posts.

      Jacob Stein “In spite of Spinoza's questions, the preponderance of evidence remains on the side of the Torah being authentic. The mountains of evidence disproving the divine authorship of the Torah are mole hills made into mountains by people who don't want God telling them what to do.”

      Again you have to respond to Spinoza’s points. Good Luck.

      Skeptics are not obliged to prove the Torah is not divine, although a strong case can be made it is not. Start here. http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2014/04/some-reasons-to-reject-orthodox-judaism.html
      These are not molehills but mountains of evidence against the Torah being Divine.

      The onus is on believers to provide extraordinary evidence that the Torah must be divine. Unfortunately they can not.

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    4. Jacob Stein writes "The only alleged public revelation of the Creator's instructions to mankind is the revelation at Sinai."

      Actually not much instruction was given directly to the Israelites. No way can you assume the entire Torah was given by G-d to the Israelites at Sinai. Maybe a few commandments at best. Also, assuming G-d gave some instructions to the Israelites - how do you know it was not corrupted over time ? Even if you claim a whole Torah was given to the Israelites at Sinai - how do you know it was not corrupted over time ? Read the Torah without apriori dogma - do you think it appears to be a Divine book ?

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    5. "The onus is on believers to provide extraordinary evidence that the Torah must be divine. Unfortunately they can not."

      Well, The onus is on believers to provide extraordinary evidence that the Holocaust happened. Unfortunately they can not.

      And please respond to my arguments that the Torah clearly is God given.

      http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

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    6. Just watch this.

      A bloody miracle flows through your veins
      http://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2015/11/25/orig-your-body-the-ultimate-guide-blood.cnn

      Of course this miracle happened through the random chance interaction of subatomic particles, which just looks miraculous. Like there were never any gas chambers; it just looks like there were.

      (I know the response "natural selection is not random". But how was nature and the laws of nature created? By random chance. So ultimately it's all just random chance.)

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    7. Jacob Stein your blog post is nothing more than an argument from design and the Kuzari argument. Start here http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/07/kuzari-principle-or-argument-part-i.html and also see http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/08/proof-of-god-through-design.html

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    8. Jacob Stein writes "(I know the response "natural selection is not random". But how was nature and the laws of nature created? By random chance. So ultimately it's all just random chance.)'

      More God of the Gaps arguments. Was nature created ? The Science is not all in - seems mostly science is arguing for a quantum fluctuation or a multiverse. But once our Universe has emerged, then according to some scientists life is likely to evolve. Still random chance, changing environments, natural selection and more may make contributions. "Laws of Nature" that is a difficult one. They are mainly based on man made models of physics and may not be actual reality. Or they are required based on certain symmetries. You can not fill our gaps of knowledge with supernatural. See http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/09/proof-of-god-from-big-bang.html

      http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/09/proof-of-god-from-origin-of-life.html

      http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2014/02/kalam-cosmological-proof-of-god.html

      http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2014/06/kalam-cosmological-proof-of-god.html

      http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2015/01/proof-of-god-from-fine-tuning_16.html

      Randomness is rampant in our Universe.

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    9. @ Jacob Stein - If you desire you can find information how blood evolved. I do not understand why you insist supernatural has to be involved. We already discussed at Kefirahblogspot why your argument for a God of the Gaps is a failure. Go back and carefully read those remarks. Not convinced ? Thats is OK. Interersted readers can see the discussion at http://kefirahoftheweek.blogspot.com/2015/10/why-i-dont-believe-in-judaism-part-3.html

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    10. Just by random chance the universe has laws which allow life to exist, further random chance created the first life, infinite more random chance made life evolve, etc etc.

      Prove that you actually exist and there isn't somewhere a monkey hitting a keyboard which by random chance is creating your blog and all your comments.

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    11. Jacob Stein - you are quite funny. Because I can not prove to you I actually exist, that somehow means your fallacious arguments are valid. LOL

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    12. Jacob Stein - your argument 'random chance' just shows you have not studied the various theories of abiogenesis and evolution. It shoul dalso be mentioned: random events played a role,feedback mechanisms; thermodynamics and more. Good luck in your studies.

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    13. No, Cocker, your beliefs depend on one unbelievable piece of good luck after the other: that the laws of nature exist in a way which makes life possible, that life formed from simple chemicals, that more advanced life emerged from more simple life. Winning the lottery a trillion times in a row would be child's play in comparison. Yet scientists preach this because they want you to listen to them, pay them, respect them and not the clergy and you believe it because you don't want to listen to God.

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    14. Like I have written before Jacob Stein you are a funny guy. No intention to insult you at all, but your are starting to appear a bit like a paranoid conspiracy delusionist.

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  34. Jacob Stein writes "Well, The onus is on believers to provide extraordinary evidence that the Holocaust happened. Unfortunately they can not.'

    Genocide has happened in the past - we all know people are capable of such things. Also, there is of physical evidence, films, witnesses we can question and have questioned, German and other country records etc: So there is plenty of corroborating evidence for the Shoah. You are using a fallacious analogy.

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    1. The Apollo mission was also a hoax. And any evidence that it wasn't is simply more 'Apollo of the Gaps' nonsense. Obviously.

      http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicapollo.html

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    2. Now you may "There is testimony of so many people, Apollo could not have been faked. Such a conspiracy would be impossible."

      Sounds very similar to proofs of Torah from Sinai.

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    3. Jacob Stein - address what I write, not what you would like to think I write, otherwise I may as well be speaking to a wall.

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    4. Jacob Stein If you cant distinguish why the 'Exodus and Sinai revelation' is considered a legend/myth and why the Apollo mission is an historical fact - maybe you need to do more research. Perhaps my series on the fallacious Kuzari argument may be helpful. Good Luck

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    5. My own argument is slightly different: that mass conspiracies are implausible.

      http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

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    6. Jacob Stein - your mass conspiracies argument is one sort of presentation of the kuzari argument. It fails for reasons posted per the blog post here and my posts on the Kuzari - start here http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/07/kuzari-principle-or-argument-part-i.html also see http://kefirahoftheweek.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-modern-kuzari-argument.html

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  35. This video explains why believing in Richard Dawkins is in fact a delusion.

    http://youtu.be/QERyh9YYEis

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    1. Jacob Stein - you are quite funny. Because I can not 'prove' to you I or Dawkins actually exist, that somehow means your fallacious arguments are valid. LOL

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    2. No. You see I am trying to point out to you the major flaw in atheism. Atheism consistently fails the duck test:

      If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

      The various parts of living things (the eye, the heart, etc) appear to have been designed. Atheists counter that this appearance is false. Actually they developed spontaneously.

      We see ourselves as inhabiting our bodies but we don't identify ourselves by it. This feeling begins with the smallest children and is universal culturally. Also, we all feel the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes. Therefore, we hold people responsible for their behavior and either reward or punish them accordingly. These perceptions imply the existence of an incorporeal essence within us. Atheists insist that these feelings are merely illusions.

      Cosmologists tell us that the universe was created from nothing about 14 billion years ago. Atheists reply that it just appears that way, however actually we are part of an eternal multiverse.

      Paleontologists tell us that life originated quickly and changed quickly many times throughout natural history. Atheists reply that the changes were in fact very gradual; however evolution occurred only in small populations and the fossils have been lost.

      If we apply this type of thinking consistently to everything else then the Holocaust never happened. The Apollo moon landed never happened. You and Richard Dawkins don't exist either. Nothing is what it appears to be.

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    3. This type of thinking is not really funny, it's really sad.

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    4. jacob Stein writes "Nothing is what it appears to be." I would modify your statement a bit: Sometimes our perceptions and 'common sense' are incorrect or unreliable. This has been shown time and time again. Also you are misrepresenting abiogenesis, paleontology, evolution and cosmology. Also, we have direct and enormous evidence for apollo moon landing and dawkins. While your arguments for supernatural are all based on flimsy God of the Gaps or pseudophilosophical arguments full of gaps. You need to think about the contrast between claiming Dawkins exists and the evidence required to support that assertion versus the claim supernatural exists and the required evidence to support that assertion. Do you really think the both claims are similar ? Do you think the evidence that supports each claim is similar ?

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    5. How exactly do you define the word "supernatural"?

      If something exists it is by definition part of nature.

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    6. Good job Jacob Stein - for posting so much information irrelevant to this blog post. But that is probably your intention. Create smoke and mirrors and derail the topic. Unless you can stick to the topic I would recommend blocking some of your comments. Not because they should not be discussed - but because they do not belong at this post. I have seen you do the same thing at other blog posts.

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    7. Actually, it all looks pretty relevant to me.

      The point is simply that atheist leaders try to foist on a gullible public nonsensical ideas which would put to shame the worst cult leaders and conspiracy theorists.

      Naturally, people believe whatever is comfortable for them.

      Have you ever wondered why other religions come and go while Judaism is eternal?

      It's quite simple.

      There are an endless number of comforting delusions and these change according to each time and place. However there is only reality.

      A "Jew" means someone brave enough to accept reality.

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    9. Jacob Stein writes "Have you ever wondered why other religions come and go while Judaism is eternal?" OK - how about Zoroastrianism and Hinduism which are ancient. But we are off topic - just pointing out your ignorance. Sorry for feeding the Troll.

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    10. Zoroastrians believe that their religion began about 600 BCE

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroaster#Date

      While Jews date their religion from Mount Sinai at 1313 BCE

      http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/73398/jewish/Moses.htm

      if not centuries earlier if you go back to Abraham.

      Also, incidentally, there are few Zoroastrians today and they are nearing extinction.

      http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2010/01/04/zoroastrianisms-decline-toward-zero/3201

      Hinduism is a culture not a religion. It's like saying "Americanism". You can be an atheist and a Hindu.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism#Diversity_and_unity

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    11. @ Jacob Stein who writes "Have you ever wondered why other religions come and go while Judaism is eternal?"

      Pls see

      http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2015/01/proof-of-god-from-prophecy_77.html

      http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/08/proof-of-god-via-jewish-survival-jewish.html

      see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism "Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world,[note 2]"

      see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism#Modern

      “Zoroastrianism or Mazdaism[n 1] is one of the world's oldest religions, "combining a cosmogonic dualism and eschatological monotheism in a manner unique... among the major religions of the world."

      “Zoroastrianism has survived into the modern period, particularly in India, where it has been present since about the 9th century.”

      Besides can you not think of any natural reason why a variant of Israelite religion still survives ? See my links. This is yet another one of your God of Gaps arguments.

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    12. @Jacob Stein - not only are you good at fishing proven by all the red herrings you provide, you are also good in sports seeing how you keep moving goal posts. 2 logical fallacies.

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    13. There exists only one religion in the world which has remained basically unchanged for thousands of years and which has a significant, viable community today: orthodox rabbinical Judaism.

      Others have wondered and marveled at this.

      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Quote/TwainJews.html

      As explained above, the explanation is obvious.

      Just interesting to note: this week I am celebrating the the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks and the Jewish Hellenists. I can imagine 2,200 years ago an Alter Cocker Hellenist ridiculing a tradition Jew "What, you still believe that invisible one god of yours? It's as clear as day that Zeus is the king of gods. Look at the success of Alexander the Great! What has your god done for you, you loser?"

      Where is Zeus today?

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    14. @Jacob Stein who writes "Just interesting this week I am celebrating the the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks and Jewish Hellenists. I can imagine 2,200 years ago an Alter Cocker Hellenist ridiculing a tradition Jew "What, you still believe that invisible one god of yours? It's as clear as day the Zeus is the king of gods. Look at the success of Alexander the Great! What has your god done for you, you loser?""

      Where do I ridicule at my blog ? Anyway - finally something we can sort of agree on. It eludes me now, but I think it was even prior Alexander the Great, our people were saying something like: Well maybe Yahweh exists but it seems he is ineffective for good or bad. Meaning as if he DONT EXIST. See I am part of a long Jewish tradition. Happy Chanakah

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    15. Like Benedict Arnold is part of a long American tradition.

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  36. Jacob Stein see you prove yourself to be a troll. More off topic inflammatory comments.

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  37. I want to point out that I am innocent of being a troll.

    "A troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in a blog with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

    The general topic of this post is the question of whether or not the Torah is of divine origin. I am merely attempting to the open the eyes of those poor, gullible fools who have been duped by atheists in general and scientists in particular. Scientists have for 150 years attempted to discredit the clergy and seize their power for themselves. I am debunking atheism and exposing this scam.

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