I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wishy-washy article about kosherness of Darwinism

A Wall Street Journal article about Orthodox Jews' views of Darwinism first tries to give the impression that there is an Orthodox Jewish consensus supporting Darwinism and then waffles. The article begins,
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Last month, 600 people turned out for a Yeshiva University fund-raiser at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The museum, which stands as a monument to science, houses one of the world's most extensive collections of dinosaur fossils. The dinner itself was held in the dramatic Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, which features a massive blue whale that hangs suspended in midair; intricate dioramas modeled on the flora and fauna of the planet's oceans line the walls. Everything about the affair suggested that Yeshiva, the intellectual epicenter of Modern Orthodox Jewish life in America, is very much at ease in the world of secular science.

This impression is confirmed by Carl Feit, who is an ordained rabbi and Talmudic scholar as well as chairman of the science division at Yeshiva College. Prof. Feit says that in nearly a quarter-century of teaching introductory biology, he has always taught evolution -- supported by traditional Jewish source material -- and that "there has never been a blip on the radar here." His assessment echoes the official line of the Modern Orthodox rabbinical association, which states that evolution is entirely consistent with Judaism.

The seeming ease with which this branch of Judaism has embraced science can in large part be credited to the towering intellectual legacy of Moses Maimonides.

The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life does seem like a strange place to hold a huge Yeshiva University fundraiser -- it seems that the place does not have much to do with Judaism. Furthermore, it is even more strange to interpret this choice of a fundraising site as an Orthodox Jewish endorsement of Darwinism.

The article later says,

Yet there are important exceptions to this tradition of moderation, and in certain parts of the ultra-Orthodox world, Darwinism has always been denounced as subversive and dangerous. Take the case of Rabbi Natan Slifkin. A boyish-looking ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and science writer, Mr. Slifkin, who publishes his books in English, is popularly known as the "Zoo Rabbi" because of his consuming fascination with the animal kingdom and his Steve Irwin-esque pedagogical style. In recent years he has emerged as a central figure in the ultra-Orthodox struggle to define the proper place of science within Judaism.

Rabbi Slifkin's work has been publicly denounced by 23 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis who attacked his beliefs as "nonsense" and ordered that Rabbi Slifkin himself "burn all his writings."

Also, the WSJ article said (I added this quote to this post on Friday afternoon),

According to Marc Swetlitz, co-editor of "Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism," "the Slifkin affair has forced both Jews and non-Jews to remember that there are Jews who oppose evolution and they are not afraid to say so. I think there is more Jewish anti-evolution writing out there now than ever before."

Also, a major Orthodox Jewish magazine's article titled "The Faith of Darwinism and the Science of Intelligent Design" said,

Belief in Darwinism and religious life are truly incompatible.

. . . . it is vital that all Jewish high school students, Orthodox or otherwise, and whether in a public or Jewish school, be fully aware of the religious implications of classic Darwinism. It is also important that we refute the misconception that ID is a Christian idea. It is Jewish to the core and one of our fundamental beliefs.

So it should be apparent that there is no Orthodox Jewish consensus supporting Darwinism. Also, a lot of Jewish support for Darwinism -- particularly that of the Anti-Defamation League -- is basically just anti-Christian and particularly anti-fundy. The ADL is paranoid about the proselytizing efforts of Christians and the efforts to turn the USA into a "Christian" nation. The ADL sees the teaching of criticisms of Darwinism in the public schools as a threat to the separation of church and state. The ADL probably also sees attempts to link Darwin to Hitler as attempts to reduce Christian anti-Semitism's responsibility for Hitler. The ADL sees criticisms of Darwinism as anti-Semitic. There are no other ways to explain the ADL's fanatical embrace of Darwinism. Otherwise, why would the ADL file amicus briefs opposing the teaching of criticisms of Darwinism in public schools. Why would the ADL website have an article titled, "Dover Intelligent Design Decision A Victory for Students." Why would the ADL have Judge Jones as a speaker at a national executive committee meeting. Why would ADL national director Abraham Foxman bitterly attack a fundy outfit's TV program -- the ADL called it a "Christian Supremacist TV Special" -- that linked Darwin to Hitler. What in the hell does the controversy over Darwinism have to do with anti-Semitism, anyway. Not very much. People are going to call me an anti-Semite for telling it like it is, but someone has to do it.

For related articles in this blog, click on the "Darwin-to-Hitler" label below or in the sidebar of the home or archive pages. "Darwin-to-Hitler" is not particularly appropriate as the sole label for this post, but if I created a new label I would have to go back and relabel a lot of old posts. I may create a new label later. Also, some of the old posts with the Darwin-to-Hitler label do not particularly concern the Darwin-to-Hitler issue but generally concern Jewish views of the controversy over Darwinism.
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5 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

So the Wall Street Journal has an article in which they quote people on both sides of an issue. How is this wishy-washy?

Friday, July 06, 2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Here are the problems with the article:

(1) The article does not say at the beginning that Orthodox Jews are divided over Darwinism. The first half of the article gives the false impression that there is an Orthodox Jewish consensus supporting Darwinism. Later the article admits that 23 "prominent" ultra-Orthodox rabbis asked a Darwinist rabbi to burn his writings.

(2) The article implied that holding the Yeshiva University fundraiser in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life was an endorsement of Darwinism. I don't see any evidence of that.

I forgot to add that the article said:

According to Marc Swetlitz, co-editor of "Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism," "the Slifkin affair has forced both Jews and non-Jews to remember that there are Jews who oppose evolution and they are not afraid to say so. I think there is more Jewish anti-evolution writing out there now than ever before."

I will add that now.

Friday, July 06, 2007 4:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> (1) The article does not say at the beginning that Orthodox Jews are divided over Darwinism. <

No. It says it later in the article. What's the point? If everything was contained in the first sentence there would be no need for the rest of the article.

> (2) The article implied that holding the Yeshiva University fundraiser in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life was an endorsement of Darwinism. I don't see any evidence of that. <

You not seeing it means little. Most people would note the connection although calling it an "endorsement" might be a little strong.

Friday, July 06, 2007 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> (1) The article does not say at the beginning that Orthodox Jews are divided over Darwinism. <

No. It says it later in the article. What's the point? If everything was contained in the first sentence there would be no need for the rest of the article. <<<<<<<

ViW, why must everything always be spelled out for you in nauseating detail. There are many articles in newspapers and magazines. People generally read just the first few sentences of an article to try to get the gist of it in order to see if the article is of interest to them. It is not necessary for everything to be contained in the first sentence or the first few sentences -- the rest of the article can elaborate upon what the beginning says. It should not be necessary to read half-way through an article to get the overall gist of the article.

>>>>>> (2) The article implied that holding the Yeshiva University fundraiser in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life was an endorsement of Darwinism. I don't see any evidence of that. <

You not seeing it means little. Most people would note the connection although calling it an "endorsement" might be a little strong. <<<<<<

Good grief. It is just a display of ocean life -- there is apparently no connection with evolution. Milstein is a Jewish name and maybe that is why the fundraiser was held there. As for the dinosaur exhibits elsewhere in the museum, only hardcore young-earth creationists would boycott the museum because of that and I think that most YEC's believe that dinosaurs lived with humans. Considering that a lot of Jews are against Darwinism, why would the Yeshiva University even suggest an endorsement of Darwinism at a fundraiser.

Friday, July 06, 2007 9:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> ViW, why must everything always be spelled out for you in nauseating detail. <

Well your descriptions are usually nauseating but they do little to clarify anything other than the deepness of your irrationality.

> There are many articles in newspapers and magazines. People generally read just the first few sentences of an article to try to get the gist of it in order to see if the article is of interest to them. <

People who do this probably make a lot of misinterpretations, as you do, but since you read the whole article, what is your point?

> It is not necessary for everything to be contained in the first sentence or the first few sentences -- the rest of the article can elaborate upon what the beginning says.<

So you agree.

> It should not be necessary to read half-way through an article to get the overall gist of the article. <

It is a short article but then again you are a poor reader.

> Good grief. It is just a display of ocean life -- there is apparently no connection with evolution. <

Good grief. You were born in New York and have never seen the American Museum of Natural History?

> Milstein is a Jewish name and maybe that is why the fundraiser was held there. <

A Jewish name? Can you identify Jews? Perhaps the holocaust could have occurred afterall?

> As for the dinosaur exhibits elsewhere in the museum, only hardcore young-earth creationists would boycott the museum because of that <

Maybe that is why you have never seen it!

Saturday, July 07, 2007 5:23:00 AM  

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