Monday, January 24, 2011

Natan Slifkin’s double standards

B"H
In his “rationalist” (?) blogspost, Natan Slifkin (NS) continues posting blogger’s comments criticizing Dr. Betech, but when I, Dr. Isaac Betech posted systematic, respectful answers, NS did not publish them. This practice has been going on many times in the last months. Following is a copy of my last, today’s comment, answering my critics; which NS explicitly refused to publish.
B”H
Dear L'maan HaTorah
Thank you for your answer. Now that we have the basic premises defined and agreed i.e.
1. The definition of Scientific Method.
2. That we both are Halachik Jews.
Let’s begin again with some of your points.
You wrote:
It is quite clear from your input on this blog (and your lectures) that by misusing terms like SCIENTIFIC METHOD you undermine real evidence supporting evolution of the species and all other "controversial" issues.
IB:
Following the definition of scientific method we have in common, please quote one “real evidence supporting evolution of the species” I have “undermined by misusing terms like scientific method”, you can use my “input on this blog (and my lectures)”.
You wrote:
I've personally attended to about 25 of your lectures, and I can confidently say I've never heard what YOU hold…
IB:
At my request you kindly mentioned the following 3 lectures:
1. Los conocimientos medicos en el Talmud
2. La edad del mundo (where you never proved IRREFUTABLY that the world is 5700 years even though that was the main theme)
3. La verdad brotara de la tierra.
I ask, for example, in these 3 lectures, you “did not hear what I hold”?
You wrote:
… I can surely give you a few lecture titles where I think you where misleading people:…
IB:
Could you be so kind to write at least one example of my “misleading people” in the above mentioned lectures?
Shegiot mi yabin? I am ready to make a public retraction of any mistaken information you will point on any of my thousands of lectures.
As you say, you live in Mexico, it will be easy for you to know if I did it or not.
You wrote:
… or are you denying that he "reveals" people's aveiros publicly?
IB:
Now that we have agreed that we both are Halachik Jews, please let me ask you: Have you studied the halachot regarding mitzvat tochacha?
P. S. 1/3
Needless to say, if “L'maan HaTorah” wants to answer my last post, he can do it in the non-moderated comment section of this blog.
P. S. 2/3
Following is another comment I sent yesterday, but was not posted (nor answered) by Natan Slifkin.
B”H
Dear Natan
You wrote:
This is exactly why, when I agreed to debate Isaac Betech about the scientific accuracy of Chazal's statements, I insisted that he first discuss the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically. Needless to say, the debate did not materialize.
IB:
Please remind me when you insisted on that?
Could you post a link to the original proposal?
P. S. 3/3
Since last week, when Natan Slifkin linked to this blogspot, the number of newcomers on this blogspot has increased significantly, welcome!
To all the newcomers I would like to inform them that I publicly agreed to debate Natan Slifkin, as posted:
I am ready to discuss in an intellectual, multimedia (sources on screen), respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum with NS or the representative (Jewish or not) he will choose, 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. As stated above (II 6) 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.
Needless to say, the debate did not materialize, since NS has not accepted… yet …

18 comments:

  1. "I insisted that he first discuss the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically."
    This is what he wants you to discuss.
    I don't see you mentioning anything about this.
    Why wont you agree to discuss that?
    He said he has no problem debating any subject with you as long as it includes the above.
    In short,don't pretend that he is the one holding up the debate.
    YOU are the one holding up the debate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. B"H
    LoveAndLiveTheTorah said...
    He said he has no problem debating any subject with you as long as it includes the above.

    IB:
    Could you please tell me when Natan Slifkin said that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dr. Betech, could you please, for once, post something, anything, of substance on a Torah/Science issue.

    If you've given thousands of lectures, surely you have an article somewhere you can upload, or at least can easily write a blog post on one of these topics. I'll even take one in Spanish, if it can be ran through Google Translate.

    The English-speaking readers need something substantive to evaluate your credibility. In several months on this blog, all we have seen from you is posturing without ever commenting on the actual issues.

    ReplyDelete
  4. B"H
    Dear Rafi
    What you say is true, but you can see the purpose of this post was not publishing something "of substance" but to clarify why I could not answer to my critics in the rationalist blog and also to clarify that I am still willing to debate with NS on the 7 issues stated above in the proper forum.
    I hope it will be soon B"H and everyone will be benefited from it (including me).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Isaac, Rafi expresses his intest in your position in Torah/Science issues, not in your ability to debate. I, too, would like to see you state your position. I have previously estimated (at Rabbi Slifkin's blog) that you are not capable of writing a coherent position paper. Please prove me wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I Aplogize,my wording should have been different.
    I cannot find a source where he specifically says "Any" in this context,on the other hand i have not searched very well.

    "WHEN I AGREED to debate Isaac Betech about the scientific accuracy of Chazal's statements, I insisted that he first discuss the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically."
    Did he not agree?
    Now,i am unaware of any specific topic which RNS has refused to debate with you,please enlighten me.
    He will not debate you because YOU REFUSE to include certain topics.
    RNS will debate,but only the condition that you ALSO discuss/clarify "the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically."
    I believe the problem here is that YOU want to be very selective in what would be debated.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If you really believe that you can win in the debate concerning the scientific issues,
    Then what would it matter if you cannot "win"
    the debate on the Chazal Issue?
    Or,what would it matter if you cannot lay out clear guidelines for determining when Chazal are speaking Literally or Allegorically?
    If you prove RNS wrong on all the other topics
    Then the first topic will not really matter,because he cannot use it to prove anything.
    So why not discuss it?

    ReplyDelete
  8. B"H
    Dear Moshe Raphael
    I am sorry, but at this point I am not committed to prove you wrong in the blogosphera.
    At this stage I am interested in proving wrong (or being proven wrong by) NS, who is the author of many published books against the classic Torah view, without having the written unambiguous approbation of his approach by present-day Gedole HaTorah of an Orthodox major institution (as far as I know).
    I think that debate could enrich many of our beloved brethren, of course including me.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What you say is true, but you can see the purpose of this post was not publishing something "of substance"...

    Yes, that is all too obvious. The problem is that substance is never the purpose of any of your posts.

    Face it, you are never going to get your debate with R' Slifkin. He just wrote a post questioning your mental state. Do you think he will wake up tomorrow and decide that you are a worthy debate opponent?

    If you hope to ever convince him that you are, I suggest you start engaging substantive issues. You have a platform to do it on this blog, or you can start your own blog here. If you won't, I too, like משה רפאל and RNS, will assume that you can't.

    ReplyDelete
  10. With all respect, you are not now in a position to debate Rabbi Slifkin. He has written profusely. His positions are clear. Yours are not clear at all. If you wish to debate the rabbi, it is only fair that you write something also. Why don't you write a position paper arguing what is wrong in the books of rabbi Slifkin (I don't think you should mention formalities like the probation issue)? I am sure the rabbi will respond to a well-argued essay. Alternatively, you could write an essay about your own views, unrelated to the writings of rabbi Slifkin. I am sure the rabbi will respond to such an essay also. Whatever you choose to write about in a well-argued fashion, it will certainly bring about the debate of your desire.

    ReplyDelete
  11. B"H
    Dear LoveAndLiveTheTorah
    Thank you for your answer.

    You wrote...
    Did he not agree?

    IB:
    NS agreed to debate Isaac Betech about the scientific accuracy of Chazal's statements, what I asked him (and has not answered yet) is the following:
    Please remind me when you insisted on that?
    Could you post a link to the original proposal?

    You wrote...
    Now, i am unaware of any specific topic which RNS has refused to debate with you, please enlighten me.

    IB:
    The scientific validity of Biological evolution (of the species) as documented and explained at:
    http://toriah.com/pdf/Betech-Slifkin-debate2.pdf

    You wrote...
    He will not debate you because YOU REFUSE to include certain topics.

    IB:
    I accepted to include all the topics in question, 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. As stated above (II 6) 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.

    You wrote:
    RNS will debate, but only the condition that you ALSO discuss/clarify "the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically."

    IB:
    I do not remember (I may be wrong) his stated that condition, or that I refused.

    You wrote:
    I believe the problem here is that YOU want to be very selective in what would be debated.

    IB:
    I accepted to debate on all the relevant issues regarding Torah and science enumerated above.
    The only condition was that evolution of the species has to be the first debate, the reasons are explained in the same summarizing document:
    http://toriah.com/pdf/Betech-Slifkin-debate2.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  12. B"H
    Dear LoveAndLiveTheTorah
    Thank you for your answer.

    You wrote...
    If you really believe that you can win in the debate concerning the scientific issues,
    Then what would it matter if you cannot "win" the debate on the Chazal Issue?

    IB:
    As stated in my last answer to you, I am ready to debate also on this issue.
    If someone is honest, always “wins” in a properly protocolized debate, because you always learn a lot from your ideological opponent.

    ReplyDelete
  13. B”H
    Dear Rafi, I appreciate your sincere words.

    You wrote:
    Face it, you are never going to get your debate with R' Slifkin… Do you think he will wake up tomorrow and decide that you are a worthy debate opponent?

    IB:
    I understand your POV, but I consider this invitation (I extended to NS) to debate and his acceptation or not, as a very significant point since NS has been represented as a victim of those critics who refuse to give him the opportunity of expressing his views.
    I am his longstanding ideological critic and I invite him respectfully to defend publicly his stated position on the 5 controversial books he wrote.
    Of course he has the right to refuse debating with me, but at least I hope people will not complain anymore about the “victim” issue.

    You wrote:
    The English-speaking readers need something substantive to evaluate your credibility.

    IB:
    Although not for credibility purposes, as per your suggestion, BH I am considering writing some papers for the English-speaking readers.

    ReplyDelete
  14. B"H
    Dear Moshe Raphael
    I appreciate your sincere words.
    I think my last answer to Rafi also cover the main points you have issued.
    If you think different, please let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi IB,

    Slifkin has indeed accepted your challenge of debate, dependent on you discussing your methodology of interpreting Chazal.

    "I would be willing to engage in this debate, and the format would be as follows: Dr. Betech would first explain his methodology for determining what Chazal's words mean, in preparation for assessing whether they are consistent with modern science. I would then ask him questions on this methodology, to which he could respond. Then I would ask him to explain ten statements in the Gemara in light of modern science. Dr. Betech would give his explanations, I would ask questions, to which he could respond. Then I would make a brief closing statement, and he would do the same, again having the final word."

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/09/case-of-dr-isaac-betech.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. B"H
    Dear Aryeh
    Thank you for your post.
    If you are trying to answer my above written P. S. 2/3, I think your link is not enough.
    If you have a different goal with your comment and link, please explain.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yes. This is your post:

    "B”H
    Dear Natan
    You wrote:
    This is exactly why, when I agreed to debate Isaac Betech about the scientific accuracy of Chazal's statements, I insisted that he first discuss the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically. Needless to say, the debate did not materialize.
    IB:
    Please remind me when you insisted on that?
    Could you post a link to the original proposal?"

    He has indeed proposed that. Check the above link. I will quote the relevant section again:

    "I would be willing to engage in this debate, and the format would be as follows: Dr. Betech would first explain his methodology for determining what Chazal's words mean, in preparation for assessing whether they are consistent with modern science...."

    ReplyDelete
  18. B”H
    Dear Aryeh
    Thank you for your clarification.

    I do not see in your link where NS “…insisted that he first discuss the methodology for determining when Chazal are speaking literally, and when they are speaking allegorically…”
    But anyway, the main point is that if I insisted in a “protocolized debate” of course it includes the definition of premises and proceedings before the public debate, so I have not refused or refuse to clarify definitions before the debate.

    I publicly agreed to debate Natan Slifkin, as previously posted:
    I am still ready to discuss in an intellectual, multimedia (sources on screen), respectful, protocolized, neutral, public forum with NS or the representative (Jewish or not) he will choose, 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. As stated above (II 6) 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.

    The only condition was and is that “evolution of the species” has to be the first debate; the reasons are explained in the summarizing document:
    http://toriah.com/pdf/Betech-Slifkin-debate2.pdf

    Best regards.

    ReplyDelete