Sunday, October 17, 2010

Irrefutable Proofs

I know that many people are sick of the Betech business, but due to various public declarations being made (see R. Gil Student's comment on the previous post), I have to finish up. Hopefully this will be the penultimate post on this topic. Besides, there are some important lessons here.

There is an important concept in modern science of falsifiability. For a theory to be scientific, it has to make predictions that could potentially be falsified. If it can make many such predictions, then as long as these are not falsified, it gives the theory more credibility.

One of my questions to Dr. Isaac Betech was that since he claims that his belief in recent creation is based on scientific as well as religious grounds, I asked him to provide falsifiable predictions that his model makes. He didn't respond, but he did offer to explain how his non-acceptance of evolution could be falsified:

I do not know any scientific proof that there was evolution of the species. My position would be falsified very easily if someone presents me just one irrefutable proof; in that case, I would say: I accept that I was mistaken.


Earlier, I noted that this statement is so meaningless as to be ludicrous. Saying that one's position could be falsified by an "irrefutable proof" does not mean anything at all, if one does not specify what such a proof would be!

But there are further ridiculous aspects to Betech's statement, which is brought into sharper focus with his continuation:

So I ask to NS, please define how your position could be falsified. For example: NS says: There are compelling reasons to accept the evolution of the species. His position would be falsified if he or his appointed representative fails to present to me even one irrefutable proof, in that case, NS would have to say: I accept that I was mistaken.


According to Betech, if I cannot present irrefutable proof of evolution, then it is mistaken for me to claim that are compelling reasons to accept it. Now, this is simply nonsense. Outside of mathematics, there is no such thing as irrefutable proofs. If someone is determined to counter a proposition (such as if he is fundamentally religiously opposed to it), he can always find something to say in response. If he is stubborn, he can continue an argument endlessly, and if has more sticking power than his opponent, he will get the last word and can claim to have refuted the proposition. Thus, there is nothing in the real world that has "irrefutable proofs." God might have made things look other than how they are, for inscrutable reasons! But the absence of "irrefutable proof" for a proposition does not mean that there is not evidence and compelling reasons for accepting it!

(Note that many of the Rishonim accepted Greco-Muslim philosophical arguments and principles as sufficiently proving truths, and even diverted from the Mesorah to explain various pesukim accordingly; and modern science is vastly more powerful than Greco-Muslim philosophy.)

It was in this vein that I readily agreed to make the following statement to Dr. Betech:

I, Natan Slifkin, admit that I do not know of any irrefutable scientific proof supporting the evolution of the species, neither the mechanisms of evolution, nor the common ancestry (the so called “fact” of evolution).


Dr. Betech gleefully took this to show that I myself had agreed to the weakness of the science that I reconcile with Judaism. But I wasn't conceding any weakness at all. I don't know of anything, anything that can be irrefutably proved. Previously, I gave the example of the moon landing. There are many people, including a sizeable number of Orthodox Jews, who insist that it was a hoax. One cannot irrefutably prove that the moon landing took place; in theory, all the evidence could be part of the conspiracy. But, from where I'm standing, I would certainly say that there is compelling evidence for it!

In my book, I presented a brief overview of the overwhelming convergence of evidence for evolution (in terms of common ancestry) that is described in the scientific literature. That is more than sufficient reason to accept it. But the sort of person who demands "irrefutable proofs" is the sort of person who will refuse to accept any of the evidence.

One final point. In general, Dr. Betech gave the strong impression that he believes that if I cannot present irrefutable proof of evolution, then this means that evolution is disproven, and his model of recent creation is correct. But, since the absence of "irrefutable proofs" does not rule out the existence of compelling evidence, kal v'chomer it doesn't mean that the alternate view is correct! Does Dr. Betech have any "irrefutable proofs" that the world was created 5771 years ago? I don't think so...

72 comments:

  1. Rabbi Slifkin,

    Even if you ever had a debate with Dr. Betech, at this point I (and I suspect many of your readers) would not attend. This man is a clown and not worth my time. Debate someone more serious and honest and I would be glad to attend.

    As for your statements about proofs, I agree completely.

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  2. R. Slifkin - just want to catch you on one point: if anything, Greco-Muslim philosophy was more powerful than modern science, in that it was considered THE absolute emes. The "proofs" in Greco-Muslim philosophy *were* considered irrefutable, in that they were (supposedly) based on logical deduction. Of course, that doesn't detract from your point, but you know...

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  3. I know that THEY thought of it that way - my point was that WE see it otherwise.

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  4. (But I can see how this could be seen as weakening my point.)

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  5. Rabbi Slifkin,

    In an earlier post you made a point of emphasizing that while you belive there is compelling evidence for common ancestry, you are not as certain - and have many questions - about whether random mutation and natural selection are adequate explanations as to a mechanism for evolution.

    I think much of what many see as the weakneses in neo-darwinism evolution are with regard to the mechanism rather than with the apparent evidence for common ancestry. As such they belive that if there are serious questions to be addrssed on the mechanism, then the theory as a whole can not be taken as fact.

    I was wondering whether you could clarify how you see the dichotomy between these two elements. If after adequate research you felt - and you seem to entertain the possibility - that there were questions about the mechanism that were to great to ignore, what would that mean to you in terms of the theory as a whole? What might you propose as the resolution to such a dilema?

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  6. 1. I want to stress that my own knowledge of zoology enabled me to study and assess the evidence for common ancestry and to trust my own conclusions. Evolutionary mechanisms are a different matter entirely, which I simply have not studied thoroughly and which I lack the competence to evaluate.

    2. There is no basis for saying that if the mechanism cannot be explained, then common ancestry should not be accepted. The evidence for one has nothing to do with the other. I don't need to know how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly in order to be certain that it does happen. I don't need to know how a murder took place in order to know that it did take place. I don't need to know how the dinosaurs became extinct in order to know that they became extinct.

    3. If I personally became convinced that the evolutionary mechanisms currently proposed cannot explain how evolution happens, then my conclusion would be that there are other mechanisms that we have not yet discovered. My reason would be that we see that Hashem works through natural law, and there is a long history of science eventually discovering the mechanisms that explain phenomena which were hitherto deemed inexplicable.

    I do NOT want the comments on this post to be sidetracked, so if you have further questions, please email me.

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  7. Rabbi Dr. Betech is not a clown, but rather, holds considerable sway, especially among Spanish speaking Jewry.

    Both he and Rabbi Slifkin are very skilled in maneuvering and arguing their perspective positions.

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  8. One more time: Never argue with a fool. People might not be able to tell the difference between the two of you.

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  9. ENOUGH!!! Rabbi Slifkin - I generally like what you have to say. You are coming across on this issue as childish - it's beneath you. You already explained (ad nauseum) why you chose not to debate him. Ignore anything further, and move on. You don't seem to realize how harping on this issue makes you look bad (the posts such as R. Gil's notwithstanding).

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  10. It's an impossible situation. For many of my regular readers who understand the dynamics of the situation, this is just a silly waste of time with a dishonest person. But on the other hand, there are hundreds of people who just received Dr. Betech's "summary." Many of these people don't know much about science or how it works. They are getting the impression that Dr. Betech is the reasonable person who wants to have a scientific debate, while I am the closed-minded fundamentalist! For people who don't understand the scientific issues (and most people just don't have that training and education), it's a challenge to explain the situation properly.

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  11. I was initially in agreement with the commenters expressing distaste regarding your "getting down into the mud" with Dr. Betech, but I've changed my mind. In hindsight, I'm finding this series of posts to be extremely enlightening - it exposes the kind of tactics your opponents are willing to employ - seemingly full of temimus and yashrus on the surface, but in fact full of posturing and dishonesty.

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  12. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I totally agree with your understanding of scientific proofs.

    Would you apply these ideas to the concept of God as well? I.e., You have no irrefutable proof of God, and that in the face of irrefutable evidence you wold renounce religion? Wouldn't that make you an agnostic? In the end, what are your reasons for believing in God?

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  13. I don't understand Isaac's point. There is no irrefutable proof of G-D existence either so does he not believe in G-D? There is no irrefutable proof that the Jews received the Torah at Sinai, so does he not believe in that? Science is about finding the BEST explanation for things we see, not about discovering irrefutable proofs.

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  14. "Fun Guy" - I certainly don't know of any "irrefutable evidence" for God. But, for the life of me, I don't know why you think that this makes me into an agnostic. I'm not agnostic about evolution either! I think that you need to read the post again.

    As for my reasons for believing in God - I've briefly discussed some of them on this blog in the past, but this comment thread is not the place for such a discussion.

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  15. > "This man is a clown and not worth my time. " -- says Yehuda... "Never argue with a fool." -- says Garnel

    A fellow can be a clown or fool in one area, and not deserve that his entire person be termed 'clown' or 'fool.' One doesn't have to be coo-coo to be coo-coo for Coco Puffs.

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  16. Fun Guy said: "You have no irrefutable proof of God, and that in the face of irrefutable evidence you wold renounce religion?"

    I think this question would be more applicable to Dr. Betech. If Dr. Betech required the same level of proof for the existence of God as he does for an old earth, he would be a militant atheist!

    I presume Dr. Betech is not an atheist. This apparent contradiction goes to show that Dr. Betech is indeed starting from his conclusions and working backwards, rather than proceeding from evidence to conclusion in a reasonable way.

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  17. There is no requirement that a scientific principle such as the theory of evolution be fully understood in terms of mechanisms prior to acceptance. What is required is that the principle lead to testable assertions whose verification then lends support to the principle. The theory of evolution is an important organizing principle in biology which has been verified in many instances. Even the specific mechanisms behind macroscopic evolutionary change are now being understood. It is now no longer an issue of the very slow accumulation of point mutations in the DNA of a species that leads to obvious changes (speciation), but of the activation and deactivation of genetic 'switches' (sections of DNA or RNA that control gene expression) via such mutations. Nor is there a need to understand the change as continuous. Indeed, the fossil record is best interpreted as reflecting little change for periods of some 25 million years interspersed with dramatic changes occuring within brief geological time that are associated with corresponding drastic climatic changes and extinctions. One possible mechanism of such dramatic changes is the greatly increased incidence of mutations by energetic solar radiation (UV rays) when the protective ozone layer is destroyed by events such as the asteroidal impact 65 million years ago or the very extensive volcanism 250 million years ago.

    As to Dr. Betech, its time to drop any further comments unless he actually provides detail as to why he considers evolution to be a false principle. Simply asserting that it is inconsistent with a literal understanding of the verses that imply a special creation for the various species won't do it.

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  18. How about saying this: A debate with Dr. Betech would indeed be interesting however the time and energy required to address his assumptions and challenges are more than my schedule can withstand at this time. Given the immense resources available on the web regarding evolution -- both pro and con -- I do not believe there is a compelling reason to prioritize this debate. I direct readers to my book for more information about my position. Dr. Betech is welcome to write a book in response.

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  19. Wanting "irrefutable proof" is just plain stupid. You don't even need your moon landing example. One can't even provide irrefutable proof (to me, living in the USA) that men have ever been to France!

    After all, how do I know France even exists? Textbooks? Which could be forged. People claiming to have been there? I don't know them or how trustworthy they are. Satellite photos? I don't know where those images really come from.

    This is no different. No matter how painfully obvious something is, it can always be refuted by simply refusing to accept the validity of the sources.

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  20. I guess the idea is that if you want to reinterpret the torah as wildly as you have in your books (I know you don't think it's wild and all of your detractors rabbeim supposedly agree with you) you need more than a compelling reason, you need irrefutable proof.

    A moon landing denier is only considered cuckoo if he has not found irrefutable proof that it did not happen.

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  21. B”H
    Dear Natan.
    It is amazing to see that even on a rationalist blogspot so many people have the ability to speculate about a person and his ideology.
    I invited you to a protocolized debate, not a personal conversation. In a public debate, neither one of the protagonists is attempting to persuade their opponent. They are attempting to persuade the audience!
    If you just agree to debate, you will have the opportunity to show to your audience that you were right on all your qualifications you have published about me.
    Do you agree to debate?
    Isaac Betech

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  22. "I, Natan Slifkin, admit that I do not know of any irrefutable scientific proof supporting the evolution of the species, neither the mechanisms of evolution, nor the common ancestry (the so called “fact” of evolution)."

    Don't you understand that the "scientist" Dr. Betesch has no idea what you're trying to say? And although he'll have some sense that you're saying something he doesn't quote understand, he can still misuse your quote?

    The only way for you to win is to play Betsesch's game in reverse. Challenge "the gedolim" to a debate. Publicly say that they can save many neshomos from the evils of heresy by using their awesome but incredibly well hidden scientific knowledge to beat you in a debate. No doubt they "won't have the time," (they only have time for tznius rallies) but some will get the point.

    Betesch is only a gadfly.

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  23. The idea that you need to provide "irrefutable proof" for evolution or an ancient universe, and the failure to do so automatically means that you have to accept the alternative hypothesis (in this case a young universe model) is asinine. It is symptomatic of intellectual laziness, and is completely devoid of logic.

    The simple mindedness of this logic is easily demonstrated. Where is the "irrefutable proof" of a young universe, or even directed evolution. Failing such "irrefutable proof" must we then adopt a completely materialist explanation of the origin of the life, the universe and everything?

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  24. I understand declaring that you don't have the time or interest in a debate.

    I do not understand this idea of no debate without "x".

    You sound like Abbas!

    Heck, I'd be willing to debate him.

    It can't be that hard to prove to someone what the truth is, regardless of what criteria they use for proof or evidence. Especially if the debate is in writing and not some high pressure conversation.

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  25. Tzurah - he would be much worse than a militant atheist. He would also have to be a complete agnostic with regards to causality, meaning he could never assume that, just because the laws of nature have functioned every moment up until just now, they will do so 10 minutes from now as well. So that would severely impair Dr. Betech's ability to live, seeing as he shouldn't eat or drink because what if the food that was healthy 10 minutes ago is now poisonous? He would also of course have to be a complete skeptic with regards to the existence of a physical world altogether, and basically disavow any empirical knowledge he has whatsoever. Finally, Dr. Betech would also have to doubt that the rules of "a=a" and non-contradiction are not just imaginary constructs imposed on him by the society he doubts the existence of, and wouldn't even be able to accept the truths of arithmetic such as 2+2=4, or "either p is true or not p is true." In short, Dr. Betech's life as a thinking thing would come to an end, and he would devolve into a vegetative state.

    The point: it's clear that Dr. Betech has NO CLUE what he's talking about when he asks for an "irrefutable proof."

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  26. RNS - how do you know there are a "sizeable number of orthodox Jews" who think the moon landing was a hoax?

    I generally agree with you, but unsuportable throw-away lines like this dont help you..

    DF

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  27. Why is it only people like R Slifkin being attacked and banned e.g. the organised mass mailing
    Is it because the people doing this feel threatened and feel they are obliged to. Is it because either everything has to be exactly according to their own interpretation or else the whole edifice comes crumbling down? I feel that it is a dangerous position to take

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  28. Isaac Betech said:
    In a public debate, neither one of the protagonists is attempting to persuade their opponent. They are attempting to persuade the audience!

    That's odd, because previously you had been talking about how these debates serve to attain truth, and about how the pursuit of truth is important to you, and about how you are ready to draw conclusions from the evidence. Now all of a sudden it's not about you, but about the audience?

    If you just agree to debate, you will have the opportunity to show to your audience that you were right on all your qualifications you have published about me.

    I'm already satisfied that I have shown this.

    Do you agree to debate?

    I already did agree. I only ask that you fulfill the conditions that you yourself agreed were required.

    By the way, how about addressing the substance of this post? Do you think that there are irrefutable proofs that the world is a few thousand years old, or that God exists?

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  29. B”H
    Dear Natan.
    Again you are misrepresenting my position (and even your position, as per Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, on October 17, 2010 6:33 PM).
    I have an updated letter summarizing my position.
    Do you want me to post it?
    Isaac Betech

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  30. Isaac, I have to say that I find your behavior rather odd. You have asked me about twenty times if I want to post your summary letter, and I have declined each time. (Note to readers - he keeps submitting the same comments over and over, which I do not post.) Why do you think that I will change my mind if you ask again? I have never before seen that behavior in people over the age of six.

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  31. B”H
    Since you keep posting great new ideas… I keep updating my summary letter.
    Isaac Betech

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  32. But hasn't it occurred to you yet that despite your constant talk of updating it, this hasn't changed my desire to post it? Surely three times is a chazakah, and this has been about twenty times!

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  33. "Why do you think that I will change my mind if you ask again?"

    He probably doesn't actually think you will change your mind but that he has something to gain, from a propaganda perspective, by expressing publicly his willingness to submit such a letter and the appearance of the ensuing refusal on your part to actually post it - a refusal he knows is coming in return because of the prior experience of not seeing his submitted letter approved and displayed in the comments section here.

    We have seen Dr. Betech express "his position" here seemingly 100 times. Why would we need to see another summary of the same material?

    (And don't worry - if you do decide to post his letter, that will also be beneficial to him for propaganda purposes because within such a summary there are undoubtedly repeated occurrences of disingenuous distortions like we have already seen, such as those claiming he has "proven" something by ignoring a response you gave, etc).

    Many of us are tiring of Dr. Betech's antics, yet your continued response and clarification is important, IMO, Rabbi Slifkin. As long as you don't feel it is wasting your time and you have the energy to clarify your own position in the face of lies and distortions, I say, keep it up.

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  34. I like R' Student's suggestion. If Dr. Betech is so interested in educating us on the fallacy of evolution and the antiquity of the earth (more than 6000 years old), let him write a book on it (or an article or a kuntres, or something). It seems like he's enough of a big macher that he can publicize it well enough w/o relying on R' Slifkin's niche celebrity.

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  35. B"H
    Dear Student V
    You wrote:
    “…because within such a summary there are undoubtedly repeated occurrences of disingenuous distortions like we have already seen, such as those claiming he has "proven" something by ignoring a response you gave, etc).”

    And I ask you:
    Are you ready to provide a source for one of those distortions?
    If yes, would you be ready to honestly analyze it?
    Isaac Betech

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  36. he appearance of the ensuing refusal on your part to actually post it

    Betech has been given enough publicity on this site so that he can easily get his own blog and post his letter there. A refusal to post his letter cannot be seen as stifling his voice. It's simply keeping this blog focused where its owner wants it to be focused.

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  37. Student V - you can just claim to have "already proved" that Betech makes distortions, just as Betech claims to have "already proved" that which he has not proved.

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  38. B”H
    Dear Y. Aharon
    You wrote:
    As to Dr. Betech, its time to drop any further comments unless he actually provides detail as to why he considers evolution to be a false principle. Simply asserting that it is inconsistent with a literal understanding of the verses that imply a special creation for the various species won't do it.
    And I ask you:
    Are you ready to provide a source for what you claim I simply asserted that it is inconsistent with a literal understanding of the verses…
    Isaac Betech

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  39. Dr. Betech, do you think that there are irrefutable proofs that the world is 5771 years old, that God exists, and that He gave the Torah?

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  40. Am I the only one who sometimes has to read Dr. Betech's dense comments two or three times before I even begin to understand what he's talking about? And why, in heaven's name, does he keep signing his name to every comment when his name already appears in big blue letters on top of them?

    Finally, I'm very happy I don't have to suffer through another summary letter of his because those letters are some of the least aesthetically pleasing pieces of writing I've ever seen -- being that Dr. Betech can't figure out how to press the Enter key twice before starting a new paragraph.

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  41. If either or both parties are interested in a serious debate about the issue, then pre-conditions and guidelines are superfluous.

    A debate is very simply that - a debate. Both sides have a thesis and they offer proofs to back up their arguments.

    Nothing else is needed.

    R' Slifkin has offered the many proofs that science has provided us. Dr. Betech refutes these proofs and claims to be able to disprove evolution.

    Fair enough. I, for one, am open to hear (or read) Dr. Betech's proofs that evolution is not possible. Why is it necessary to engae in the posturing and negotiating? This is not professional wrestling with the good guys and bad guys yelling at each other in the weeks preceding the big seasonal Pay-Per-View. It is meant to be an intelligent debate (or at the very least, discussion) between two very intelligent and very learned individuals. What more is necessary?

    The one request that I would perhaps make (emphasis on the word "request" as opposed to "condition") is that the arguments be backed by concrete proof, without relying solely on faith. Concrete facts or proofs can be interpreted in different ways, but at least the essence of them remains the same.

    Faith is a wonderful thing to have, but it is no substitute for proof.

    That being said - Gentlemen, what are either of you waiting for? Present your case and let your readers decide with whom they agree.

    Kol Tuv,
    Asher

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  42. Asher,

    Please read earlier posts of Rabbi Slifkin's regarding why there is no need for Rabbi Slifkin to "present his case", why Rabbi Slifkin will not do so and why it is irrelevant. Rabbi Slifkin's posts about this begin on Sept 21, 2010 with the post titled "The Case of Dr. Isaac Betech".

    If Dr. Betech would like to debate evolution, he is welcome to set up a debate with a reputable, scientifically published evolutionary biologist. Rabbi Slifkin does not hold such qualification.

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  43. How about saying this: A debate with Dr. Betech would indeed be interesting however the time and energy required to address his assumptions and challenges are more than my schedule can withstand at this time. Given the immense resources available on the web regarding evolution -- both pro and con -- I do not believe there is a compelling reason to prioritize this debate. I direct readers to my book for more information about my position. Dr. Betech is welcome to write a book in response.

    Rabbi Student –

    Rabbi Slifkin has made statements to that effect in earlier posts and comments (see all discussion beginning with the post on Sept 21 titled “The Case of Dr. Isaac Betech”).

    After Rabbi Slifkin made statements to this effect, Dr. Betech used Rabbi Slifkin’s statements as "proof" that Rabbi Slifkin refuses to debate evolution with Dr. Betech because Rabbi Slifkin knows that evolution is false. Dr. Betech then claims that this shows that Rabbi Slifkin thereby “admits defeat” to the debate on evolution. Dr. Betech continuously distorts and misrepresents statements made by Rabbi Slifkin and others.

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  44. Dear Dr Betech.
    You wrote: "Are you ready to provide a source for what you claim I simply asserted that it is inconsistent with a literal understanding of the verses…"

    Are you not aware of what the Ramban said on the first Passuk of the Torah?
    I quote:
    מפני שמעשה בראשית סוד עמוק אינו מובן מן המקראות, ולא יוודע על בוריו אלא מפי הקבלה עד משה רבינו מפי הגבורה, ויודעיו חייבין להסתיר אותו, לכך אמר רבי יצחק שאין להתחלת התורה צורך בבראשית ברא, והספור במה שנברא ביום ראשון ומה נעשה ביום שני ושאר הימים, והאריכות ביצירת אדם וחוה, וחטאם וענשם, וספור גן עדן וגרוש אדם ממנו, כי כל זה לא יובן בינה שלימה מן הכתובים

    You either are not aware of this statement of this Ramban, or you DO know what the Pashut Pshat of the Pessukim mean (and have this tradition from Moshe Rabbeinu as to its meaning but refuse to divulge it to us) or you think the Ramban is wrong.

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  45. Two observations:

    1. The back and forth negotiations about what would or would not be a precondition and under what circumstances one is willing to debate-- reminds me of the current state of affairs between the Israelis and the PLO. Basically it means that at least one side does not really want to participate. In this case I think it is you, justifiably. I reiterate my previous advice to refuse a debate.

    2. Just a clarification--The issue of falsifiability of scientific theories-- this is generally recongized but by no means universlly accepted. Karl Popper first expressed the idea clearly, but there are other philosophers who argue that it is neither a necessary or sufficient criterion for a scientific theory. Often a theory will become accepted simply because it works. A lot of theories in psychology work this way.

    I refer you to a fascinating TED lecture on theories by David Deutsch.

    Having said that, I agree with the thrust of the post. An explanation that does not explain anything and cannot be verified or refuted is not a theory.

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  46. Basically it means that at least one side does not really want to participate.

    Correct. It's both of us - I don't want to participate in a debate about evolution, and Betech doesn't want to participate in a debate about creation.

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  47. That being said - Gentlemen, what are either of you waiting for? Present your case and let your readers decide with whom they agree.

    The case for evolution has already been presented, in the scientific literature. (For that matter, the case against evolution has already been presented, in a variety of websites and popular books.)

    See the summary in my new post.

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  48. Dear Rav Slifkin (and Michapeset who also related to what I wrote),

    I agree that R' Slifkin has addressed the case for evolution, and referred to it in my letter when I said that "R' Slifkin has offered the many proofs that science has provided us. Dr. Betech refutes these proofs and claims to be able to disprove evolution".

    I agree with you both that the ball is in Dr. Betech's proverbial court - it is time that he either disprove evolution when asked, or to leave the forum in which it is being discussed.

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  49. B”H
    Dear Natan.
    I read what you wrote in this post about irrefutable proofs.
    Let me ask you a question:
    If I would modify the standard for the falsifiability of your position, and I omit the word “irrefutable”, i.e.:

    NS says: There are compelling reasons to accept the evolution of the species.
    His position would be falsified if he or his appointed representative fails to present to me even one scientific (factual, objective, non-speculative) proof, in that case, NS would have to say: I accept that I was mistaken.

    In that case, you would agree to debate?
    Isaac Betech.

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  50. Isaac, in science one does not prove. One presents evidence. One tests a theory by checking whether its predictions are born out. Every time a prediction of a theory is confirmed, the theory is strengthened. Do you understand this?

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  51. Dr. Betech, you have been asked a question numerous times on this thread and have failed to answer it. Why should I answer your question?

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  52. By the way, Isaac, I will no longer be posting comments from you which (a) do nothing other than refer people to parts of your summary letter which you claim answer the questions posed to you, but which don't do anything of the sort, and (b) which consist of repeating requests for me to debate you/ respond to your documents.

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  53. "And I ask you:
    Are you ready to provide a source for one of those distortions?
    If yes, would you be ready to honestly analyze it?
    Isaac Betech"

    Dr. Betech, from what I remember, it was "michapesset" who already exposed one of these distortions in a comment s/he left here a number of posts back. You had claimed to "prove" something by ignoring a clear response from Rabbi Slifkin that disputed your so-called "proof." I don't remember the details at this point. Is it possible you admitted your mistake, and I am forgetting? I certainly don't have a problem with you admitting that type of mistake.

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  54. Actually, he had not entirely ignored my responses; he wrote a rejoinder, but it just didn't remotely address the substance of my point and certainly did not transform his argument into a "proof."

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  55. It is so sad the way you N. Slifkin and your friends write. Most of your posts are full of insults, "clown", "nobody", “Debate someone more serious and honest “, “fool” etc. to a person that you obviously don’t have any idea of what he has done and does for Am Israel, his knowledge, and his Kavod HaTorah.
    Instead of discussing concepts, you constantly attack people forgetting that “kol haposel bemuMO posel”.
    It is very “fishy” that nobody that participates in your blog insults you, not even one. I don’t know if I should say that your “filtering process in your blog” is too obvious, or if this speaks about the quality of the people that follow you.
    I hope that H” will still give you the opportunity to do Teshuva, but you better hurry up…there’s so much for you to repair.

    Dovid

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  56. Dr. Betech, in your new formulation you are offering to Rabbi Slifkin you use the qualifying word "non-speculative" instead of irrefutable. (Actually, you use 3 qualifiers, but I focus on this one). This is a distinction without a difference. One can use "non-speculative" in the same manner as Rav Slifkin suggested you planned to use "irrefutable."

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  57. Dovid:

    1. Please don't confuse me with my commentators. None of your quotations are from me.

    2. I am quite sure that Dr. Betech has done much kiruv in Mexico; I wrote this in my first post about him. In this forum, however, he has done nothing other than turn people off to the type of Judaism that he represents.

    3. There was one person who kept submitting all kinds of insults as comments. However he refused to give any name, even a pseudonym, so I only let one of his comments through. I'm thinking of making a post out of the rest of them, with no commentary from me. Would you like me to do that? It doesn't show up your side in a good light at all.

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  58. Dovid -

    I was the one who referred to Dr. Betech as “a nobody”. I apologized shortly after. Both my comment and my apology were in the comments section under the post titled An Expert In Science. My initial comment was on Sept 20, 2010 7:24 AM, and my apology was in my comment on Sept 21, 2010 11:12 AM. I apologized after “Menachem O” pointed out (on Sept 21, 2010 12:09 AM) that Dr. Betech is “a unique Tzadik Talmid Chacham” and that “He has dozens of thousands of baale Teshuva in the whole world” both of which I was not aware of.

    [As an aside, I pointed out to “Menachem O” (on Sept 21, 2010 11:12 AM) that he was insulting and disrespectful to Rabbi Slifkin by repeatedly calling him “Mr. Slifkin” which is insulting not only to Rabbi Slifkin himself but also to the process of Semicha for Rabbanim. “Menachem O” not only did not apologize, but he attempted to defend his behavior (Sept 21, 2010 8:21 PM). Even after Rabbi Waxman (on Sept 21, 2010 10:26 PM) pointed out that saying “Mr.” instead of “Rabbi” is a way in which people attempt to “figuratively strip semicha from someone they disagree with,” Menachem O did not offer any sort of apology to Rabbi Slifkin. Nor did another commenter who also used the term “Mr. Slifkin”.]

    Most (if not close to all) of the regular followers of this blog were completely unfamiliar with and had never heard of Dr. Betech before the comments that Dr. Betech started making on this blog (beginning on Sept 14, 2010 11:01 AM). The insulting statements that commentators made of Dr. Betech were after numerous comments which Dr. Betech left on this blog. In Dr. Betech’s posts his statements and claims repeatedly distorted facts, misrepresented statements made by Rabbi Slifkin and others, obfuscated the discussion and blatantly avoided answering straightforward questions. After seeing Dr. Betech act in this disingenuous manner time and time again, and not being familiar with him otherwise, commentators cannot be faulted when they assume Dr. Betech’s consistent behavior on this blog reflects his general personage.

    It is very “fishy” that nobody that participates in your blog insults you, not even one… I hope that H” will still give you the opportunity to do Teshuva, but you better hurry up…there’s so much for you to repair.

    It is insulting to tell someone publically that they “better hurry and do Teshuva because they have so much to repair.” So in your own comment you have disputed your statement that “nobody that participates in your blog insults you, not even one.” This is besides for the fact that there have been other commentators who have posted insults at Rabbi Slifkin, as well as those who have disagreed with him.

    I don’t know if I should say that your “filtering process in your blog” is too obvious, or if this speaks about the quality of the people that follow you.

    Those of us that follow Rabbi Slifkin’s blog generally appreciate the high quality of his work, and are proud if this speaks of “the quality of the people that follow” Rabbi Slifkin. We find said quality to be exceptionally high and take that as a compliment. Thank you.

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  59. Lawrence Kaplan Comments:

    Dovid: You owe R. Slifkin an apology.

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  60. Lawrence Kaplan Comments:

    Dovid: You owe R. Slifkin an apology.

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  61. I'm still waiting to learn how RNS knows there are "sizeable" numbers of orthodox Jews who think the moon landing was a hoax.

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  62. I found out that the biggest rabbanim in the Breslov community are of this view, and hence many Breslov chassidim have adopted it.

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  63. By the way, the idea that it is impossible to go to the moon has a VERY strong basis in the mesorah.

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  64. I searched for frum moon denial and found frum women discussing Science and Torah: http://www.imamother.com/forum/viewtopic.php?printertopic=1&t=29074&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

    Fascinating and terrifying.

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  65. I've heard the moon landing denial attributed to the Satmar Rebbe.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  66. Well, that is interesting, if true, that some rebbes or rabbis may believe or have believed privately [b/c no one ever wrote it] the moon landing was a hoax, but it does not mean any number of orthodox Jews accept that. A quibble.

    [Agav, just read your frog/croc article in JBQ, which just arrived in the mail. Intressante. I have an article coming out there iyh this year. R. Josh Waxman, if you're still following this thread, you are quoted.]

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  67. The above forum has a uniquely long thread about the ban: http://www.imamother.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1077&highlight=slifkin

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  68. frum women discussing Science and Torah

    surreal

    I am having trouble accommodating the idea that we are part of the same milieu. We might have eaten at one another's house.

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  69. By the way, the idea that it is impossible to go to the moon has a VERY strong basis in the mesorah.

    Perhaps consider this for a separate article.

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  70. Already written! I just haven't decided where to publish it.

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  71. Re: "I searched for frum moon denial and found frum women discussing Science and Torah: "
    Some things there are even more scary: that the planets after Saturn don't exist (anyone with a strong telescope can see them...), that the Mediterranean is bigger than the Pacific, etc. These people apparently believe that Hashem made a mistake in giving people eyes and brains, because we are not allowed to use them at all.
    Incidentally, why didn't they complain about the Amazon being bigger than the Euphrates, according to "science"?

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  72. And I ask you:
    Are you ready to provide a source for what you claim I simply asserted that it is inconsistent with a literal understanding of the verses. - Isaac Betech

    That is precisely the problem. I can only speculate about what arguments you might raise since you have provided no information other than issuing a challenge to a debate. As long as you persist in that course, further discussion is futile. While such a strategy may be advantageous in a poker game, the general readership here isn't interested in playing your game. Go play with your friends and boast how the people here won't take up your challenge.

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