[b-hebrew] Documentary Hypothesis

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 17:30:53 EST 2009

My undergraduate major was philosophy, with an emphasis on comparative
religions. But before I switched my major to philosophy, I took several
science classes, including upper level courses, in chemistry and biology.
What soured me from continuing philosophy in graduate school were my
philosophy professors: they were some of the most clueless people under the
sun concerning subjects outside of their specialties.

Not one of them understood science in the same manner as did my science
professors. On the other hand, many of my science professors could have used
a bit more philosophical knowledge, particularly in logic.

In my experience, one of the biggest holes in my professors' understanding
is an almost total ignorance by philosophers in what is called "Hebrew
Thought" (which I think is a misnomer, as it is not intrinsic to the
language). There are millions of people worldwide who use Hebrew Thought.
The biggest difference between those millions and philosophers is that those
millions think according to history and function, while philosophers follow
the present and form.

See http://www.wikinfo.org/index.php/Hebrew_thought

To bring it into recent discussions on this list, because according to
philosophy professors naturalism does not have the form of a religion, it is
not one. According to those who use Hebrew Thought, because it has the
function of a religion, it is one. According to philosophers, because
science is defined by the statements of scientists and they claim evolution
is science, it is science. According to Hebrew Thought, because science in
science textbooks is defined as a process and any study that does not comply
with that process is not science; evolution does not comply with that
process, therefore it cannot be a scientific study. In fact, the statement
"historical science" is an oxymoron according to the science textbook
definition of science, which is why I claim many scientists need to learn

So can you step outside of your box, and at least try to understand those
who use a different way of thinking? Even just for mental practice, can you
consider ideas according to how they function, rather than according to
their form?

On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 9:37 AM, Gabe Eisenstein <gabe at cascadeaccess.com>wrote:

> Karl,
> My reaction to all the "wikinfo" articles was the same as Yigal Levin's:
> they misrepresent everything they claim to define.

Do you even understand them?

> I read all your
> links, and the result was a confirmation of my perception that you and I
> occupy different universes of thought and discourse.

That was a big frustration for me when I was studying philosophy: I'd see my
professors and fellow students getting all excited over some new form of
expression, but I would see the same function and wonder what all the
excitement was about. They saw something new, I saw the same old same old.
It got boring after a while.

> I will just quote
> one sentence from wikinfo on the theory of evolution:
> "By definition, we cannot observe this long development which by
> definition occurred in the past, therefore, evolution cannot be a
> scientific theory."
> Ignoring the carelessness of this writing, the statement implies that
> there is no possibility of geology, astrophysics or other historical
> sciences.

Look at
exactly what the definition states, when carried to its logical
conclusion. Deductive reasoning. Or do you claim that the scientists don't
understand science?

By the way, most studies in geology, astrophysics, etc. have no reference to

> Clearly the writer does not understand the realities of
> scientific practice. Obsession with a simplistic notion of "observation"
> (or "facts", in your parlance) blinds him to the complexities of
> theory-formation, in which plausibility and coherence with existing
> knowledge play important roles. (I tried and failed to make this clear
> to you in private correspondence.)

Is it possibly because it is you who doesn't understand science?

> Therefore when you ask, "Shouldn't this be a learning opportunity, to
> try to bridge that gap?" I must answer: the gap is too large. You do not
> appreciate how utterly unconvincing your arguments are to a mainstreamer
> like me (or how annoying it is to hear a naturalistic approach
> characterized as faith or ideology).

And do you realize how annoying it is to have a religion pushed in my face
in a way that is actually offensive, then be told that I shouldn't object
because somehow it is "scientific" (scientific method be damned)? Do you
understand how ridiculous it looks when a conclusion is pushed as a fact
just because it is in accordance with a certain ideology in the absence of
other evidence?

> The fact is that I have witnessed no supernatural events, nor have I
> heard a credible report of such events. There is no comparison between
> my lack of belief in them and the faith that such events have occurred.
> (And bringing in evolution just muddies the waters further.)

Witnessing or non-witnessing supernatural events is irrelevant to the

> I reject Rolf Furuli's "third way" which says that we "accept what the
> text says until it is proven wrong".  This is just the "first way" in
> disguise.

You misunderstand Rolf. The first way is "I believe it". The second way, "I
think it is myths and fables". The third way is, "This is what the text
says, whether I believe it or not is irrelevant". How is this third way an
underhanded pushing of the first way?

> I appreciate that you do have extensive knowledge of the Bible and its
> language. Surely you can be helpful with certain kinds of questions. And
> surely there is a lot to learn about the Bible's literary and moral
> dimensions without delving into history.
> But in my view the whole truth about the Bible and its language requires
> a diachronic approach that is at odds with the traditional accounts of
> the origins of Biblical texts.

And there you are pushing what is in function a religion. Can't you see
that? Don't you recognize that such actions are de facto proselytism?

> Therefore my proposal is as follows: when a particular topic seems to us
> Naturalists to require a diachronic analysis, you Supernaturalists [my
> use of the term "fundamentalist" seemed like name-calling to some; I
> hope this is better] should just stay out of the way, rather than
> bringing non-linguistic arguments against a diachronic approach. And
> when a topic seems to you to require explanations in terms of the
> supernatural, I will stay out of your way as well. Fair enough?

What linguistic studies require explanations in terms of the supernatural? I
don't know of any. Do you?

> Gabe Eisenstein
> _____________________

Karl W. Randolph.

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