Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Summary of the Betech Affair

I apologize to all those who are fed up with the Betech Affair; they should skip this post! Unfortunately, many people are just now getting to know about it (and this blog), and many of these people do not have a strong background in evolutionary science and do not perceive the situation correctly. I have therefore written a summary of the topic, which will (hopefully!) be my last post on the matter. You can download this summary as a PDF at this link.

32 comments:

  1. Forget scientific journals, is Betech's argument published anywhere online?

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  2. For anyone who wants to find anti-evolution arguments, there are many such websites online. I don't think that Betech has anything that they haven't heard of.

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  3. If you understand Spanish, you can order his shiurim on Torah v. Science issues from his kiruv organization's website. He even was a participant in a TV show about the scientific evidence for the existence of God (available on Youtube)! From the Youtube video (and not understanding Spanish) he appears to be quite a confident orator. OTOH, I haven't found, despite trying various approaches on Google, any written articles about evolution by him (even if it was in Spanish, I would have been able to get some information out of it via online translation). I can see why he wants to do an oral debate, rather than take the much more simple step of presenting a written article.

    Any Spanish speakers out there willing to do a more thorough search (or check out what Dr. Betech says on Youtube)?

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  4. B”H
    Dear Natan.
    I read your summary letter.
    Again you are misrepresenting my position (and even your position).
    Are you ready to discuss your summary letter point by point?
    Isaac Betech.

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  5. B”H
    Dear Tzurah:
    You wrote:
    I can see why he wants to do an oral debate, rather than take the much more simple step of presenting a written article.

    And I remind you, that I am ready to an oral debate supported by all the scientific written references on screen, as I clearly stated:
    “If sometime you are ready to discuss with me the scientific value of evolution of the species in an intellectual, multimedia, respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum,...”
    Isaac Betech.

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  6. Dr. Betech,

    Why wait for R' Slifkin to accept an oral debate? (with or w/o multimedia presentations). You obvious have spoken about these topics a lot. If you think your ideas are valuable, you owe it to yourself to prepare something that would have a bit more of kiyum than a shiur on a tape (or youtube). You should write an article laying out your theories. It appears that you are somewhat of a celebrity in the Spanish speaking kiruv world. At the very least, there are any number of kiruv websites that I'm sure would love to get material to publish from a kiruv superstar such as yourself.

    I'd certainly be much more interested in such an article, rather than a debate or a fisking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisking) of R' Slikin's blog posts.

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  7. "And I remind you, that I am ready to an oral debate supported by all the scientific written references on screen, as I clearly stated:
    “If sometime you are ready to discuss with me the scientific value of evolution of the species in an intellectual, multimedia, respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum,...”

    Did you ever write down your thoughts in an orderly fashion? Your comments on this forum gave me the impression that you cannot do this.

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  8. Are you ready to discuss your summary letter point by point?

    No. But feel free to write a response and publish it in your own venue.

    And let me know if you ever publish anything in a scientific journal.

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  9. You should write an article laying out your theories… I'd certainly be much more interested in such an article, rather than a debate or a fisking… of R' Slikin's blog posts.

    Tzurah –

    This has been posed to Dr. Betech a number of times on this blog, and he never responds to it.

    (He might claim that he responds, but his responses are only avoidances - namely his saying that he wants to debate Rabbi Slifkin on evolution.)

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  10. I still fail to understand why Dr. Betech has not disproven evolution already. Why does he need Rabbi Slifkin's cooperation? Just do it and let your critique stand on its own!

    Perhaps I am being overly presumptuous, but I suspect that Dr. Betech's critique is similar to so many others that I have already seen in the frum community which are underwhelming and unconvincing.

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  11. Dr. Betech. I don't need to see a debate between you and Rabbi Slifkin. Debates are as much about style as they are about substance, often more so.

    Please point me (all of us) to a place where we can read, in English, your argument. If your information is as convincing as you claim it to be then it should "sell" itself

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  12. If his arguments were as convincing as he claimed (he claimed that they have never failed to convince even scientists), then he would have published them in scientific journals, transformed modern science, and won a Nobel prize!

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  13. "If his arguments were as convincing as he claimed..."

    Actually, I would guess Dr. Betech is probably committing the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy. His assertion was:

    "I do not know any Jewish or non-Jewish person, scientist or layman, who accepted to seriously hear “my anti-evolution arguments” who was not convinced."

    Any scientist or layperson who was not convinced did not, a priori, accept to her his "anti-evolution arguments".

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  14. Hello. My name is Arie and I´m a spanish speaker. I just heard Dr. Betech expostion posted on youtube, which was centered on "demonstrating" God´s existence. The video was taken from an argentinean TV program, and the pannel taking part on the discussion are clearly not scientists.

    Even though the discussion was not centered on the validity of the evolution theory, he makes some remarks regarding it.

    a) He states that there´s no single proof that an unicelular organisma has evolved to a complex being (is this so?).

    b) He states that there is no scientifical evidence of species evolution.

    c) He states that there is no explanation regarding the mecanism through which species change.

    d) He cites George Wall (Nobel prize) as suporter of many of his views.

    Rabbi Silfkin (and Dr. Betech), instead of discussing reasons why to debate (or not) could you elaborate a little on these topics?

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  15. I have no comment regarding the first three - read the scientific literature. Regarding George Wald, he most certainly did not agree with Dr. Betech's views. See the following links for details of how anti-evolutionists distort his words:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html#quote57


    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part4-2.html#quote4.19

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  16. Arie, I'm also not going to allow Isaac Betech to use this forum to elaborate on the first three. He has his own websites, and you can find plenty of Christian anti-evolution websites which have that kind of material (which is presumably where Dr. Betech took it from).

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  17. a) He states that there´s no single proof that an unicelular organisma has evolved to a complex being (is this so?).

    True. But that is not even the best question to ask. What about the evolution of self replicating molecules. This has been demonstrated, along with mechanism of mutation and selections see http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16382-artificial-molecule-evolves-in-the-lab.html)

    This is a major step towards demonstrating the evolution of a self replicating cell

    b) He states that there is no scientifical evidence of species evolution.

    Not True

    Species evolution has of course occurred in the lab. But in nature see here http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    c) He states that there is no explanation regarding the mecanism through which species change.

    Not true.

    Speciation is simply an inability for two related organism to mate and produce a viable and fertile offspring.

    One simple method of speciation is for one of the chromosomes inside the nucleus to dislocate. Now during meiosis and fertilization, the chromosomes from both parent cannot match up.

    d) He cites George Wall (Nobel prize) as suporter of many of his views.

    Just prooves that cranls can win Nobel Prizes. That shouldn't surprise us, Arafat has a peace prize.

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  18. I'll tell you why I for one am fed up with this.

    Both religious people and scientists are ostensibly in the business of revealing the truth of things.

    Yet much of the time it is a sham and show, each side posturing and parroting arguments in the (largely futile) attempt to "win over" the other.

    An honest truth-seeker is less concerned with the question "How can I poke holes in the other person's theory" and much more interested to know "What are the potential holes in MY theory?"

    The thought that should keep scientists and religionists up at night is: "Maybe I'm wrong."

    I say forget the idea of debate and instead try to foster a little honest reflection on each side. Then we'll see who (if anyone) is really in it for the truth.

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  19. For some reason, I think people still don't seem to understand R. Slifkin's point. As far as I understand, R. Slifkin's goal isn't to assert that evolution is necessarily correct, it is to assert that evolution isn't necessarily contrary to the Torah. In that sense, whether or not evolution is correct is essentially irrelevant. If people understood that, they'd stop asking him to debate evolution, since that's neither his area of expertise nor his assertion.

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  20. Dear Josh
    “Seriously hear” means 2-4 hours of debating, depending on his intelligence and knowledge.
    Isaac Betech

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  21. B”H
    Dear Arie
    Your description of a, b and c is correct.
    Sorry but I did not say that George Wald supports my views against evolution.
    If you want, please check again. If you insist please write in which minute of the video I said that.
    Isaac Betech

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  22. 'No True Scotsman' fallacy.

    Thank you! That's a great tool to have in the chest.

    A striking example of this comes to mind (unfortunately)...

    concerned congregant: Rabbi, how could this orthodox Jew commit fraud?

    Rabbi: He obviously is not orthodox!

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  23. Just heard a 2 1/2 hour lecture by Dr. Schroeder. There's really nothing quite like seeing a 150mm year old dinosaur vertebra in front of your nose.

    Maybe Dr. Betech could use something like that to help clear his mind a little.

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  24. B”H
    Dear Gil.
    You wrote:
    I still fail to understand why Dr. Betech has not disproven evolution already.

    IB 20/Oct.’10
    I have done it many times.

    You wrote:
    Why does he need Rabbi Slifkin's cooperation?

    IB 20/Oct.’10
    You are right; I do not need his cooperation. As you remember NS began all these series of posts and commentaries, when he published that someone like me has “zero credibility” on these issues.

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  25. Isaac, do you not realize that you completely failed to address R. Gil's question?

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  26. I would invite Betech to read the papers I linked to in my last comment, and then respond to them.

    Of course, since Betech has written, clearly and unambiguously, that he has disproven evolution, I would like to read his proof.

    I would also like to remind Betech, that "The absence of evidence" is not the same as "evidence of its absence", so simply saying that there are "holes" in the data is insufficient to disproove an idea. You need to show evidence that is irreconcilable with the theory (hypothesis) to disproove it.

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  27. Dr. Betech says that he has disproven evolution many times. I would like to see a comprehensive treatment so that we may subject it to the appropriate scrutiny. If it succeeds, then I might be interested in publishing it. Why should the community be deprived of an important document like that?

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  28. Dr. Betech says that he has disproven evolution many times. I would like to see a comprehensive treatment so that we may subject it to the appropriate scrutiny. If it succeeds, then I might be interested in publishing it. Why should the community be deprived of an important document like that?

    I solicited this on the anti-RNS blog. Click through for the response by Rabbi Coffer. If I understand correctly, the answer is:

    1. Rabbi Slifkin will out-talk him in an English written online forum

    2. This will not be an issue in a live debate with a protocolized, neutral, professional venue.

    editor's note: I hope this makes more sense to you than it does to me.

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  29. Yitz wrote:
    If I understand correctly

    IB
    I did not change my proposal.
    We are speaking of a protocolized, live debate in English (or Hebrew).
    Isaac Betech

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  30. BH
    Dear Natan
    Since you wrote at:
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2012/08/eilu-veilu.html?showComment=1345151987110#c5760525166949129372

    Any more comments regarding him can be posted at http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/10/summary-of-betech-affair.html

    I will follow your instructions.

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  31. BH
    Dear Natan
    You wrote:
    4. In any case, I did offer to publicly debate Chazal's knowledge of science with him, but he declined, claiming that he is not a Torah scholar and therefore not qualified to discuss it.

    IB:
    At the end of the text in the above mentioned link:
    http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.mx/2010/10/late-developments-on-natan-slifkins.html
    The following is written:
    I am still willing to discuss in an intellectual, multimedia (sources on screen), respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum with NS or a representative (Jewish or not) of his choice, on any scientific issue relevant to his 5 controversial books, i.e.
    1. Creation of the universe (Big Bang Cosmology).
    2. Chemical evolution (increasingly complex elements, molecules and compounds developed from the simpler chemical elements that were created in the Big Bang).
    3. The age of the universe.
    4. Biological evolution (of the species).
    5. “Dr. Betech's own model of recent special creation” (as NS named it).
    6. The accuracy of science-related statements made by Chaza”l.
    7. After the debate on the scientific issues will be concluded, I am also ready to debate the validity of the theological sources presented by NS on these issues.
    Please see more details on the end of page 4:
    http://toriah.com/pdf/Betech-Slifkin-debate2.pdf

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