Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Breaking the Kuzari


Preliminary outline and cover for a book on the Kuzari Argument.



Chapter 1: Introduction
What the Kuzari argument is; the importance of the argument to many frum people as a "proof"; the purpose of this book.

Chapter 2: The Kuzari Argument
The various formulations of the Kuzari. The popular version in circulation. The original (from the sefer Kuzari), Ramban's, R' Chait, and R' Gottlieb. 

The Kuzari argument as a a series of syllogisms:

Premise 1: Either Matan Torah happened as recorded in the Torah, or someone made it up.
Premise 2: Millions of people will not accept that they or millions of their ancestors witnessed something and that there was a continuous tradition about that event unless they had heard about the event from their parents (or other elder family members). They would have rejected the claim out of hand.
Conclusion 1: Therefore it can't be that Matan Torah and the mesorah were  made up, because no one would have accepted it.
 
Premise 3:  If it were possible for mass revelation events to be faked or to develop organically, we would expect more religions to use a mass revelation as their origin stories.
Premise 4:  We don't see any other religions use a a story like matan Torah: a mass revelation to the entire nation that was passed on to the descendants of the original witnesses as their origin story.
Conclusion 2: Therefore it must be that mass revelation stories can't be faked or develop organically, and the mass revelation at Har Sinia must be a real event.
 
Premise 5: (From C1 and C2) We can be sure that matan Torah happened, just as we are sure that other historical events happened.
Premise 6:  If Hashem gave the Torah on Har Sinia, then Judaism is true and all Jews are obligated in the mitzvos.
Conclusion 3:  Therefore Judaism is true and all Jews are obligated in the mitzvos.

The argument as a syllogism with all sub-premises:
Premise 1: Either Matan Torah happened as recorded in the Torah, or someone made it up.
                Sub-premise A: If it was made up, someone tried to convince everyone that it is true, like a guy standing on a soapbox in the street.
Premise 2: Millions of people will not accept that they or millions of their ancestors witnessed something and that there was a continuous tradition about that event unless they had heard about the event from their parents (or other elder family members). They would have rejected the claim out of hand.
                Sub-premise A: There were millions of witnesses at  matan Torah
                Sub-premise B: The millions of witnesses at matan Torah passed down their experiences to 
their children through the generations, giving us millions of lines of faithful witness that matan Torah happened.
                Sub-premise C: Each link in the chain of the mesorah is equally reliable.
                Sub-premise D: There is an unbroken mesorah that proves  matan torah was a real event, and the mesorah is valid.
                Sub-premise E: The first generation would have had to believe they experienced matan Torah for them to tell the story to their children as history.  People are/were aware of history as such and valued it. Family and community elders wouldn't deliberately lie or distort the history they pass to their children in the service of what they regard as a greater religious good. And the first generation wasn't forced to accept the story and pass it on as truth to their kids
                Sub-premise F: people in the distant past were skeptical in the same way that people are today, (thought the same way about things as people do today) and so would have rejected the Sinia story if it wasn't true.
                Sub-premise G: Large numbers of people can't become convinced they (or their ancestors) witnessed something if it didn't really happen.
                Sub-premise H: The people saw God give the Torah,  not some sort of trick.
                Sub-premise I: It is reasonable to accept other people's testimony that they have witnessed a miracle.
Conclusion 1: Therefore it can't be that Matan Torah and the mesorah were  made up, because no one would have accepted it.

Premise 3:  If it were possible for mass revelation events to be faked or to develop organically, we would expect more religions to use a mass revelation as their origin stories.
                Sun-premise A: Religions (except Judaism, which is the truth) are invented by charlatans who are looking to use the best justification, or religions will naturally develop the best justification.
                Sub-premise B: Mass revelation is the best, or at least a very good, justification for a religion, so we would expect more religions to use it.
Premise 4:  We don't see any other religions use a a story like matan Torah: a mass revelation to the entire nation that was passed on to the descendants of the original witnesses as their origin story. ( R' Gottlieb's NET.)
                Sub-premise A: The uniqueness of the Sinai story is proof that it happened, because it shows that a story like matan Torah can't be made up or evolve through myth formation.
                Sub-premise B: There are no mass revelations in other religious traditions comparable to matan Torah.
Conclusion 2: Therefore it must be that mass revelation stories can't be faked or develop organically, and the mass revelation at Har Sinia must be a real event.
Premise 5: (From C1 and C2) We can be sure that matan Torah happened, just as we are sure that other historical events happened.
                Sub-premise A: The Kuzari Proof establishes the historicity of matan Torah in the same way and with the same or similar confidence as other events we consider historical (having actually happened).
Premise 6:  If Hashem gave the Torah on Har Sinia, then Judaism is true and all Jews are obligated in the mitzvos.
                Sub-premise A: There is a solid mesorah about what  our ancestors witnessed at matan Torah.
                Sub-premise B: If matan Torah was a real event, then the Torah we have today is the Word of God and Judaism as it is now is obligatory.
                Sub-premise C: People will not accept new doctrines as binding unless it is attested to through mesorah. Jews have accepted the burdensome commandments in the Torah and subsequent halacha unless matan Torah really happened.
Conclusion 3:  Therefore Judaism is true and all Jews are obligated in the mitzvos.

Chapter 3: Premise 1-A
Premise + sub-premise
Discussion and refutation
(Same for every "premise" chapter)
Chapter 4: Premise 2-A
Chapter 5: Premise 2-B
Chapter 6: Premise 2-C
Chapter 7: Premise 2-D
Chapter 8: Premise 2-E
Chapter 9: Premise 2-F
Chapter 10: Premise 2-G
Chapter 11: Premise 2-H
Chapter 12: Premise 2-I
Chapter 13: Premise 3-A
Chapter 14: Premise 3-B
Chapter 15: Premise 4-A
(Includes review of R' Gottlieb's NET.)
Chapter 16: Premise 4-B
Chapter 17: Premise 5-A
Chapter 18: Premise 6-A
Chapter 19: Premise 6-B
Chapter 20: Premise 6-C

Chapter 21 : Summery of Discussion
Premises, sub-premises, and conclusions, with short summaries of the refutations to each.
Implications of the failure of the Kuzari Argument.

63 comments:

  1. Looks pretty damn comprehensive. Nice.

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  2. Looking forward.

    Re "Sub-premise I: It is reasonable to accept other people's testimony that they have witnessed a miracle.". I think most formulations are careful to only accept testimony from multiple sources, not just to believe "other people;s testimony" in general.

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    1. Yes. But the question is, is it more reasonable to accept, say, a million people's testimony that they witnessed a miracle, or to conclude that they had a mass hallucination?

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    2. I totally agree. The point is that the premise as you word it sets up a potential strawman. The stronger premise of:
      "...Sub-premise I: It is reasonable to accept other people's testimony that they have witnessed a miracle provided that it comes from sufficiently reliable or numerous sources."

      (or similar) would be a more reasonable way of stating the actual sub-premise that is embedded here. That would no longer be a strawman and I agree it is still not a valid premise.

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    3. I see. You're right. Thanks!

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  4. Is there a typo "Sub-premise C: People will not accept... Jews {would not} have accepted the burdensome commandments in the Torah and subsequent halacha unless matan Torah really happened.

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  5. Seems like Kellemn's version is not being fully addressed. He talks about past, present, future theories. And the Applewhite Theorem. see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VarUODJ9uPo

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    1. What a classic video that is! The delicious irony starting just after 11:50

      “Let’s go back to the moment where the charismatic cult leader - in this place played by kellerman - will persuade the charismatic cult followers - yes thats you - that the whole thing is true.”

      And then exactly that happens.

      Does he even appreciate the beautiful irony of it? So absolutely classic!

      I have long said that the best disproof of the kuzari principal is the kuzari principal.

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    2. @Yoni2 Keen insight. The Irony of it !

      Here is more Irony. RG claims there are no false NETs. But he himself believes in what most likely is a false NET, the Sinai Story. My biggest problem with the Kuzari argument is the Torah is factually wrong on much, and the 600000 figure is phony. If you claim a story is true and Torah divine they should not have phony figures in it.

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    3. Is RK ignorant of ancient Israelite/Jewish charismatic leaders ? Lets start with Abraham and the forefathers, then move on to Moshe and Aaron, the numerous Priests, prophets, Kings, Scribes and finally Ezra. Yep, we just can not think of ANY cult leaders in Jewish history. Give me a break.

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    4. Btw for another what I always thought of as perfect counter example of a NET (and yes i am aware of falling into the trap of giving credence to the whole idea of NET) you have the samaritans. They not only have a similar myth. It is basically an identical one. So the KP can just as equally be valid to show that it was the ancestors of the samaritans, not the jews who received the torah. Of course traditional judaism believes that the samaritans are actually the descendants of the cuthim, who “hijacked” judaism. So who was the cult leade that convinced *them* that *their* ancestors saw the revelation, and how on earth did he manage to create that false NET?

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    5. @Yoni2 you have made an excellent point. The Samaritans claim descent from Israelites and Talmud claims they are cuthim. Both are probably correct in the sense migrant cuthim migrated into an Israelite population and became mingled ! But like you wrote - How could the Samaritans claim to be Israelites if they were not Israelites ? Applying RG principles and accepting the Talmud we have a false NET ! Moreover, the Samaritans claim they have the true Torah while Rabbinic Judaism claims they do not. So yet another false NET. With you permission and giving credit to you maybe I will add a post on Samaritans and KUzari argument.

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    6. I am fairly certain Rabbi Kelemen concocts the Applewhite theorem. It is very unlikely the academic community accepts his invention. I have written several more posts directly about Rabbi Kelemen. start here https://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2018/03/kuzari-argument-part-16-permission-to.html

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    7. "I am fairly certain Rabbi Kelemen concocts the Applewhite theorem"

      Googled it and at first glance it looks like you are right. Needs a little more research.

      If you are correct then the Applewhite theorem disproves itself as it seems that people were perfectly willing to believe it is a real theorem despite the fact that it is (relatively) easy to check whether it is or not (google).

      Of course it is pretty obvious. People will believe all sorts of weird things whether easy to check or not all depending on why they want to believe it vs. not want to. Critical thinking is difficult and can be quite confusing, so most will largely go with the flow.

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    8. Regarding you Samaritan point, I don't see how that it disproves KP. The Samaritans' belief (if false) merely shows that once a nation believes a true NET, another group of people may get sucked in and believe that their ancestors were also part of the nation that experienced the NET. But how does that empirically display that a nation will believe a false NET ex nihilo?

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    9. @Are Roster The point is that a nation has accepted a false national history. Yet the Kuzari argument claims there are no false national traditions. As I wrote above "How could the Samaritans claim to be Israelites if they were not Israelites ? Applying RG principles and accepting the Talmud we have a false NET ! Moreover, the Samaritans claim they have the true Torah while Rabbinic Judaism claims they do not. So yet another false NET."

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    10. @Are Roster - AFAIK there is no ex-nihilo requirement for the Kuzari argument. Are you now adding yet more requirements to the Kuzzari argument. Texas Sharpshooter fallacy.

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    11. I am not adding requirements. You claim that it is possible for a nation to believe in a national event which never happened. Do you have ANY EMPIRICAL evidence that a nation can believe in a national event which never happened? You don't. The Kuzari argument never claims anything, in my opinion. It merely respectfully asks for empirical evidence for YOUR CLAIM that nations can believe in events which never took place.
      According to the Kuzari argument, you must substantiate your claims. Thus, if you claim that no miracles took place in Sinai and the belief in miracles sprung up or evolved subsequently, you must provide empirical evidence that non-events can subsequently morph into "national history." The mistaken, non-false-NET beliefs of the Samaritans are useless for your claim.

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    12. @ Are Roster - I need to research the Samaritan claim. Do they claim they are of the Israelites that received their Torah at Sinai ? If so, would that would qualify as a national event for the Samaritans ?

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    13. @Are Roster - some of my posts provide examples of large mass of people believing in events which took place, but the people were most likely mistaken and sometimes known to be mistaken on what took place. Why doens't that count as a violation of the Kuzari principle ? Maybe something happened at Sinai but people interpreted it incorrectly. And the burden of proof is on you to show "national" beliefs of "national" events are always true. Hint - they are not. Nor am I sure a tribe (that may or may not have been at Mt Sinai) that witnesses something in a desert qualifies as a national event.

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    14. @Are Roster - so what do you think of G*3's premises etc: for sefer Kuzari, Ramban's, R' Chait, and R' Gottlieb. ? Do you think his outline would apply to your version of the Kuzari argument ? If not, what would your premises consist of ? Definitions help. Why must it be a "nation", why not a large group of people ? What qualifies as a national event ? Does it have to be something like Sinai where an alleged mass of people gather at one place and witness a single event ? What if an event took place over a period of time and over many places ? etc:

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    15. @ Are Roster from my blog post http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2018/03/kuzari-argument-part-17-apple-white.html "The Palestinian leadership and people tell their history and stories about how events unfolded prior to the creation of the State of Israel and subsequently. No doubt, many of them believe it." They have a national history of national events, hence it must be true right ?

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    16. Re Samaritans: Yes, the Samaritans (we will assume, for the sake of the argument, mistakenly) believe that they descend from the Jews who received the Torah. But all that proves is that when one nation believes a true event, another group of people can mistakenly believe to have descended from that nation. It is an additional, unsubstantiated step to thereby conclude: we have proof that an event which didn't happen at all can be believed by a nation.

      I am not sure what you mean by the false national history of the Palestinians. I am not an expert in the topic, and I am not sure what exactly the Palestinians on the ground believe. Nor do I think that they are completely mistaken about public events (perhaps they believe that the Jews never lived here 2000 years ago? Or they believe that MORE Palestinians lived in Israel pre-1900 than actually lived there? Or that Jews expelled some of them? None of these satisfy as a NET. But, again, I'm speculating).

      You say "And the burden of proof is on you to show "national" beliefs of "national" events are always true." Incorrect. I never claim that national events are always true. I am merely saying that we have no evidence that it is a fallible form of evidence. So I have no choice but to accept it. I read through all of your examples, and I don't see how they provide any evidence that the evidence for the Torah is a fallible form of evidence. They don't seem even remotely similar to the form of evidence for the Torah. So where is your evidence?

      Where should you look for false NETS, if you are seriously trying to find one? Read through elementary or high-school national history textbooks. I will explain.

      The Jews' national belief in the "false" events that took place at Sinai had a tremendous effect on the nation. It wasn't merely a national event, it was an event which required immediate and everlasting commemorations for the entire nation (i.e., observing the sabbath every "seventh" day after that event, and 37 specific commemorations for the Exodus). So the authors of some elementary school textbooks, though they obviously don't believe in the miracles, are compelled to catalog the belief in the false NET of Sinai in order to explain why the Jews act the way they do. If such a false NET exists with any other nation -- say, the English observe 37 daily commemorations for a national event -- the history textbooks would surely tell us about the event. To qualify as a NET, by definition it must be a belief which would have an lasting effect on the nation. I read through one high school history textbook, cover to cover. And there are no false NETs recorded therein, except Sinai (which I believe to be a true NET). So I'm skeptical of any claim that someone has found a false NET (if such a belief exists, why wasn't in reported in the textbook I read?) [To be clear: the textbook records many non-NET events, such as the resurrection of Jesus, the visions of Muhammad and even the Aztec migration myth (which some mistakenly claim to be a NET)].

      Regarding the Kuzari-premises, as I outlined in my blog, I don't believe in any of the premises in this page. So I can't imagine there is anything in the book which will convince me away from belief in the Kuzari argument, which is based on premises which are (slightly) different from those mentioned herein.

      I would post the premises, but it would take me some time to get them exactly right, so I would rather not post them at this point. My argument is basically exactly like RG's except that I (possibly) remove some of the fluff that he puts in and (possibly) add some fluff.

      But I think your request for premises is itself questionable. THERE IS NO KUZARI ARGUMENT. YOU are making the argument. You are asserting that national belief is a fallible form of evidence. Prove it.

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    17. @ARE ROSTER - 1) Can you give me some examples of TRUE NET, that are not related to Jews at all. 2) Can you define what a NET is and provide definitions of any terms used. Thank You.

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    18. @ARE ROSTER "Regarding the Kuzari-premises, as I outlined in my blog,..." Can you provide this link.

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    19. @ARE ROSTER "Regarding the Kuzari-premises, as I outlined in my blog, I don't believe in any of the premises in this page." I presume you disagree with the premises of G*3. Can you explain which and why. Thanks

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    20. Why would I need to provide a true NET, in order for the Kuzari argument to be justifiable? Nevertheless, I would say that the Jews' belief in the Second Temple - an edifice witnessed by the entire nation (or the vast majority of it), an edifice whose existence was believed to have been immediately and perpetually commemorated with everlasting commemorations (e.g., Tisha B'av) is an example of a true NET (I understand that you were asking for a true NET not related to Jews, but I think the example I gave is the best one available). Now, my belief in the Sinai miracles is stronger than my belief in the existence of the Second Temple, since the Sinai miracles were more heavily commemorated than the Second Temple was, but nevertheless I think (as Iv'e said) that these two events share similarities.

      Here is my blogpost. http://kuzariproof.blogspot.com/2018/05/are-kuzari-critics-familiar-with-kuzari.html. I basically disagree with every one of Second Son's premises (I didn't provide any reasoning, so it needs to be updated . . . someday).

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    21. @Are Roster - I really appreciate you taking the time to engage with me, so a big thank you. Since your are using the term NET, you need to define it, which so far you have not done. PLEASE provide a definition of NET. Also, examples help clarify what a NET is.

      You sort of claim NETS are good evidence. I assume you examined many NETS and found them all to be true. So were is your list showing all these true NETS that have been examined ?

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    22. A NET is any event which has evidence which is similar to the evidence for the Sinai events. What is the evidence for the Sinai events? a) millions of people who claim that b) millions of their ancestors (who were repeatedly counted), c) witnessed an extended event (14,600 days), d) an event which they believe they were commanded to immediately and perpetually commemorate with 37 (daily) commemorations, e) by a nation which was literate and genealogically astute, f) who are willing to incur tremendous sacrifices based upon this belief (i.e., people might be more willing to accept beliefs which don't require any sacrifice on their part, but might be more skeptical when they have to sacrifice based upon this belief).

      That is the evidence for the Sinai events. Do you know of any instance wherein this evidence OR EVEN SOMEWHAT SIMILAR EVIDENCE has shown itself to be fallible? If not, why are you certain that it is fallible?

      You claim that the evidence for the Sinai events is fallible. So we are entitled to ask: do you know of any examples wherein this sort of evidence has shown itself to be fallible? The fact that you, in your armchair, can conjure up a scenario how the evidence "could be" fallible is insufficient to prove that it is in fact fallible.

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    23. @ ARE ROSTER who wrote “A NET is any event which has evidence which is similar to the evidence for the Sinai events. What is the evidence for the Sinai events? a) millions of people who claim that b) millions of their ancestors (who were repeatedly counted), c) witnessed an extended event (14,600 days), d) an event which they believe they were commanded to immediately and perpetually commemorate with 37 (daily) commemorations, e) by a nation which was literate and genealogically astute, f) who are willing to incur tremendous sacrifices based upon this belief (i.e., people might be more willing to accept beliefs which don't require any sacrifice on their part, but might be more skeptical when they have to sacrifice based upon this belief).

      That is the evidence for the Sinai events. Do you know of any instance wherein this evidence OR EVEN SOMEWHAT SIMILAR EVIDENCE has shown itself to be fallible? If not, why are you certain that it is fallible?

      You claim that the evidence for the Sinai events is fallible. So we are entitled to ask: do you know of any examples wherein this sort of evidence has shown itself to be fallible? The fact that you, in your armchair, can conjure up a scenario how the evidence "could be" fallible is insufficient to prove that it is in fact fallible.”

      1) I think you have designed a category that has few if any members, except the Sinai story.. That is why I am asking you to provide examples of NETS. If all you have is one story we can not draw firm conclusions about NETS.

      2) I think you are have committed the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy.

      3) Because [allegedly] millions of people believe something does not make it true or even likely true.

      4) You are also committing ad-ignorantiam fallacy - arguing that something is true because it has not been shown to be false.

      5) I am not sure you are following RK or RG or even Rabbi Chait’s Kuzari argument. I think your argument is much weaker and moer fallacious than theirs.

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    24. @ ARE ROSTER consider this “A PNET is any event which has evidence which is similar to the evidenceof the WBCW events. What is the evidence for the WBCW events? a) Thousands of people who claim that b) hundreds or thousands their ancestors c) witnessed a supernatural being d) an event which they received religious rituals - including the foundation of their religion e) received an artifact from that supernatural being f) that they revere the artifact and supernatural being since the event g) are willing to undergo torture in order to fulfill their religion.

      That is the evidence for the WBCW events. Do you know of any instance wherein this evidence OR EVEN SOMEWHAT SIMILAR EVIDENCE has shown itself to be fallible? If not, why are you certain that it is fallible?

      You claim that the evidence for the WBCW events is fallible. So we are entitled to ask: do you know of any examples wherein this sort of evidence has shown itself to be fallible? The fact that you, in your armchair, can conjure up a scenario how the evidence "could be" fallible is insufficient to prove that it is in fact fallible.
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      So, ARE ROSTER, do you find my PNET category valid ? Does it convince you of the truth of WBCW story ? If not wehy not ?

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    25. I will respond to your first reply today, the second tomorrow:

      1) "I think you have designed a category that has few if any members, except the Sinai story.. That is why I am asking you to provide examples of NETS. If all you have is one story we can not draw firm conclusions about NETS." I have not "designed" anything. You claim that the Sinai evidence is fallible. I am merely asking: Do you know of any similar event that has shown itself to be fallible. Once again: I AM NOT ARGUING ANYTHING. I am merely asking, do you have any evidence that the evidence for the Sinai events - or even anything similar to the Sinai events - are fallible?

      2) "I think you are have committed the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy." How can I commit that fallacy when I have yet to argue ANYTHING? I am simply asking: DO YOU HAVE ANY EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE THAT THE EVIDENCE FOR THE SINAI EVENTS IS FALLIBLE? In order do have empirical evidence that the evidence for the Sinai events is fallible, you will need to provide evidence that is similar to the evidence for the Sinai events. Until you do, how I am committing a fallacy?

      3) "Because [allegedly] millions of people believe something does not make it true or even likely true." I do not argue that it is likely true (at this point). I am merely stating that it is evidence (just as our tradition about the existence of the Second Temple is evidence).

      4) "You are also committing ad-ignorantiam fallacy - arguing that something is true because it has not been shown to be false." I am not doing so. I am merely stating that WHEN YOU CLAIM THAT OUR EVIDENCE IS FALLIBLE, YOU MUST PROVIDE EVIDENCE FOR YOUR CLAIMS. I am not claiming that the evidence for Sinai is infallible. I am merely stating that you have no evidence that it's fallible.

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    26. @ARE ROSTER - How does this sound to you: "I [ACJA} am merely stating that WHEN YOU CLAIM THAT OUR EVIDENCE [WBCW] IS FALLIBLE, YOU MUST PROVIDE EVIDENCE FOR YOUR CLAIMS. I am not claiming that the evidence for WBCW is infallible. I am merely stating that you have no evidence that it's fallible."

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    27. ARE ROSTER - your are committing logical fallacies. Your (alleged) evidence is NOT accepted unless the evidence is shown to be true. You need to demonstrate your alleged evidence is valid. This you have not done. BUT IT IS WORSE FOR THE SINAI story. We have good reasons to reject the Sinai story, thus your alleged evidence is fallible.

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    28. You claim that I am committing "logical fallacies" my "evidence is NOT accepted unless the evidence is shown to be true. You need to demonstrate your alleged evidence is valid. This you have not done. BUT IT IS WORSE FOR THE SINAI story. We have good reasons to reject the Sinai story, thus your alleged evidence is fallible."

      You are making two points. First, you argue that I have the burden to show that the Kuzari evidence is true. I actually disagree with your assertion, but, regardless, at this point, I am not arguing that the evidence is true: I am merely giving you the opportunity to provide evidence that the evidence for Sinai is fallible, evidence that you can somehow get millions of people to mistakenly believe that millions of their ancestors experienced an event and were commanded to never forget this event, and perpetuate the memory of this event forever. How can you be so certain about how nations may act when you have not a shred of evidence to back you up?

      Then, you argue that we have evidence that the Sinai events never took place. I will avoid responding, because I'm afraid it will get us off the Kuzari topic, a topic which, once sufficiently clarified, will allow you to realize that the Kuzari argument has sufficient power behind it to prove that the Sinai events took place, notwithstanding the evidence you claim disproves the Sinai events.

      Once again, I will hold off on responding to your Buffalo story to a later time, though feel free to thump your chest in the mean time.

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    30. @ARE ROSTER who writes "I am merely giving you the opportunity to provide evidence that the evidence for Sinai is fallible, evidence that you can somehow get millions of people to mistakenly believe that millions of their ancestors experienced an event and were commanded to never forget this event, and perpetuate the memory of this event forever. How can you be so certain about how nations may act when you have not a shred of evidence to back you up?"

      I have no obligation to disprove your alleged evidence. You have the obligation to show it is true.

      I have devoted blog posts explaining why I think your alleged evidence is fallible. Also, the Sinai story is fallible because AFAIK no living archaeologist or living historian accepts the biblical account of Exodus as true to history, especially the large figures 600000 plus. That is a big strike against your so called evidence. If millions believe your Sinai story that is evidence that your evidence is fallible.

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    31. @ ARE ROSTER consider this “A SNET is any event which has evidence which is similar to the evidence of the Miracle of the Sun events.

      What is the evidence for the Miracle of the Sun ? a) Thousands of people who claim that b) thousands of their ancestors c) witnessed miraculous astronomical events and other miracles d) an event which plays a role in the political direction of the nation e) the miracle site is claimed to heal the sick f) millions participate in the apparition cult. Every year several million travel from around the world to the apparition site.

      That is the evidence for the Miracle of the Sun events. Do you know of any instance wherein this evidence OR EVEN SOMEWHAT SIMILAR EVIDENCE has shown itself to be fallible? If not, why are you certain that it is fallible?

      You claim that the evidence for the Miracle of the Sun events is fallible. So we are entitled to ask: do you know of any examples wherein this sort of evidence has shown itself to be fallible? The fact that you, in your armchair, can conjure up a scenario how the evidence "could be" fallible is insufficient to prove that it is in fact fallible.
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      So, ARE ROSTER, do you find my SNET category valid ? Does it convince you of the truth of Miracle of the Sun story ? If not why not ?

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    32. You write: "I have no obligation to disprove your alleged evidence. You have the obligation to show it is true."

      If you claim that evidence is fallible, why in the world would you not have to justify your claim? If, for example, a thousand witnesses directly tell you that they ate manna, and you still say, "the evidence provided by way of a thousand witnesses is surely fallible," do you not have justify your claim? Now, if you would merely claim, "I simply don't know whether this evidence is fallible or not," then you'd be correct. But you ARE making an assertion: "you can convince millions of people regarding a false national event." But you have no evidence for this assertion! Regarding historians etc., they aren't experts in whether the evidence is fallible or not (they don't even address the issue). They merely argue (unconvincingly) that it is an exceedingly unlikely, implausible and improbable event. I am still waiting, though, for you to provide evidence for YOUR claims, that our evidence is fallible. You have none.

      Regarding my Kuzari argument, you claim that this argument will lead to the illogical result of being forced to accept other beliefs, such as WBCW and the Miracle of the Sun. Before seriously addressing your claim, the problem is that your making assertions without evidence is equally untenable and illogical (claiming that you can surely corrupt a nation's history without a shred of evidence for your claim). Why is making one illogical claim ("I know that national history is fallible, despite having no evidence") more preferable than another (perhaps illogical) claim (we are forced to admit that some other myths cannot be deemed fallible)?

      Before moving along, I will say that I haven't sufficiently studied the WCBW or sun miracles (though I have blogged about them briefly). On first glance, not that I think it's terribly relevant, it does seem that these events are supported by fallible evidence. There are numerous stories of masses of people suffering from BRIEF delusions when staring at the sun. So the "Miracle of the Sun" of Fatima has SIMILAR counterexamples. Furthermore, at least according to Wikipedia, we aren't told about the number of people who saw the Sun moving. Perhaps it was a handful? EVIDENCE tells us that a handful of people testifying is a fallible form of evidence. Similarly, regarding the WBCW claim, this website http://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/white-buffalo-calf-woman-healer-teacher-and-inspirational-spirit-lakota-021067, among others, discusses the event. I have seen numerous versions of it. I am not sure what people on the ground actually believe, so your claim that people "believe" that hundreds or thousands of their ancestors witnessed the event is questionable. Furthermore, I haven't been able to locate the figure "hundreds or thousands." Please provide a source (you might be right, I just actually want to discuss the version of the myth you are presenting). Furthermore, the actual miraculous event was extremely brief, and we have evidence that even large groups of people's perception can be distorted regarding brief events.

      But what if you do actually find an event which contains evidence which we have no reason to assume is fallible? To the extent the event contradicts Judaism, we can weigh the evidence. So Judaism claims that there are no other Gods. The WBCW belief (arguably) contradicts Judaism. So even if (according to your claim) there is possibly-infallible evidence for WBCW, that doesn't mean that we are forced to accept the beliefs, when their evidence contradicts the evidence which (I would argue) is stronger.

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    34. I will also point out that I DID provide an example of a true NET, so your argument that I am tailoring the evidence specifically for Sinai is invalid (I happen to believe that, even if valid, it is irrelevant, because I am not making any argument. I am merely, at this point, desperately asking for evidence). I showed a true NET of the Second Temple. There are thousands of nations. Do you know of a single false NET? So how do you know that it's a fallible form of evidence?

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    36. @ARE ROSTER who writes referring to historians "They merely argue (unconvincingly) that it is an exceedingly unlikely, implausible and improbable event."


      The fact is historians and others have shown you alleged evidence is fallible because the biblical exodus as you understand it is exceedingly unlikely, implausible and improbable event as you put it. Also, I think historians really mean the The Exodus story does not map well against the historical and archaeological record. In fact, it hardly maps at all. So writes Propp.

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    38. @ARE ROSTER - do you think the Kuzari argument assumes a G-d already exists ? Is the Kuzari argument evidence for G-d ?

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    39. @ARE Roster Regarding sun miracle check out http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2017/06/kuzari-argument-part-13.html

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    41. @ARE ROSTER WHO WRITES 1) "Do you know of a single false NET?" 2) "So how do you know that it's a fallible form of evidence?"

      Lets assume my response to your first question is no.
      Lets assume my response to your second question is I DO NOT KNOW. Meaning lets assume maybe it is fallible and maybe it is not.

      Given those responses what is it you ARE ROSTER are arguing for or trying to prove ?


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    42. @ Are Roster - maybe will get back next week. In meantime, let me ask you this. "Do you know of a single false SNET ? So how do you know that it's a fallible form of evidence?"
      THe examples you gave do not meet the requirements of a SNET. a) Thousands of people who claim that b) thousands of their ancestors c) witnessed miraculous astronomical events and other miracles d) an event which plays a role in the political direction of the nation e) the miracle site is claimed to heal the sick f) millions participate in the apparition cult. Every year several million travel from around the world to the apparition site.

      Read more about the Miracle of the Sun http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2017/06/kuzari-argument-part-13.html and http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2017/08/kuzari-part-13-miracle-of-sun-continued.html

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    43. @ARE ROSTER regarding miracle of sun. The Sun Danced - Myth, Miracles, and Modernity by Jeffrey S. Bennett 2012. Page 116 “For the vast majority of those present, there was no doubt that something supernatural had occurred.”

      ARE ROSTER - thousands believed WITOUT A DOUBT miracle(s) occurred.

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    44. @ ARE ROSTER who writes ..a thousand witnesses directly tell you that they ate manna, and you still say, "the evidence provided by way of a thousand witnesses is surely fallible," do you not have justify your claim?

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      Thousands of 'witnesses' does not mean the alleged events actually happened the way they claim or for the reasons they claim. THat is a known fact derived about human history. About Manna see http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2017/12/proof-of-god-from-miracles-part-2-or.html and http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2015/12/proof-of-god-from-miracles-or-kuzari.html

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    45. @ ARE ROSTER

      This is going to be a long response.


      A) Regarding WBCW - I guesstimated for WBCW in the hundreds up to about 1000 witnesses based on tribal band size estimates found in some literature I came across. Population sizes for WBCW story would require more research and maybe impossible to determine. I have supplied Indian Chief testimony, ordinary Dakota people and other evidence that informs the story was not considered fictional and is still not considered fictional by many Dakota. I have supplied information documenting the WBCW story foundational to the Dakota religion. For example - One of the 7 important religious ceremonies is The Girls Puberty Ritual also called the Buffalo Ceremony. It marks the passage into womanhood and also establishes the girls relationship with WBCW. For more documentation see http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2013/07/kuzari-principle-or-argument-part-i.html

      B) The population size estimates for miracle of sun are known to be in the thousands, and thousands believed miracles occurred. See http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2017/06/kuzari-argument-part-13.html

      C) We do not know how many ‘descendants’ of ancient Israel by date really believed in the story. There is evidence suggesting that sometimes not all that many did. Nor do we know how many Israelites where at Mt Sinai nor do we know what they believed. We have excellent reasons for believing the the Exodus 600000 plus figure is bogus. Thus, if you think the Sinai qualifies as a Net, it is very likely a false NET. So far you have only supplied two stories for NETS. My guess is there very few NETs making it very difficult to draw any sort of conclusions about NETs. The Exodus-Sinai story is a nation foundation myth and such are known to not always be reliable.

      D) The second temple NET is not as fallible as the Sinai NET because 1) There are many lines of evidence for the second temple 2) It does not involve supernatural. See my discussion of miracles and Hume.

      E) Palestinians have a national history of national event(s) that changed their nation. These events are commemorated. The events include that the Jews engaged in ethnic cleansing in 1948, (maybe even earlier. ?) and since then. Do you accept their testimony ? If not why not ?

      F)ARE ROSTER writes "you {ACJA} can convince millions of people regarding a false national event."

      I am not sure I ever wrote such a thing. I can not remember - maybe cite one of my comments or blog posts.

      However, I have written posts how a mass of people can come to believe in a story that is not fully true. I suggest you read eery one of my KUZARI blog posts. They are based on human psychology and known human behavior.

      G) ARE ROSTER writes “Furthermore, the actual miraculous event [miracle of sun] was extremely brief, and we have evidence that even large groups of people's perception can be distorted regarding brief events.”

      So how long did the Sinai revelation last ?

      Regarding Manna see my posts on miracles.

      Do you have some examples where thousands claimed miraculous events for 10 minute or longer ?

      You claim that the evidence for the miracle of the sun events is fallible. So we are entitled to ask: do you know of any examples wherein this sort of evidence has shown itself to be fallible? The fact that you, in your armchair, can conjure up a scenario how the evidence "could be" fallible is insufficient to prove that it is in fact fallible.
      Recall the evidence consists of thousands claiming miraculous events occurred some lasting at least for ten minutes.

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    46. @ARE ROSTER - to clarify regarding D) where I wrote: Do you have some examples where thousands claimed miraculous events for 10 minute or longer ?

      I mean to say for events like the miracle of the sun - astronomical miracles and other miracles that occurred that day.

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  6. You are doing the work Kuzari proponents should have done. Spell out their premises, sub premises etc: Great job G*3

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  7. TYPO "Premise 4: We don't see any other religions use a a {double a}

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  8. Unrelated, but on pesach I finally got the name of this blog! Talk about slow!

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    1. :)

      You should read the first post from way back when.

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  11. @ARE ROSTER who writes referring to historians "They merely argue (unconvincingly) that it is an exceedingly unlikely, implausible and improbable event."


    The fact is historians and others have shown you alleged evidence is fallible because the biblical exodus as you understand it is exceedingly unlikely, implausible and improbable event as you put it. Also, I think historians really mean the The Exodus story does not map well against the historical and archaeological record. In fact, it hardly maps at all. So writes Propp. ACJA

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