I caught a posting by Hasidic Rebbele
who happened to catch the same site (Hidabroot) that I found. While I found some articles, he found a video
on that site which claims to prove that the Torah is divine. I expressed on his site that I would look at the video, but I hoped that the proofs contained therein were better than the proofs in the article.
I hoped in vain.
I only watched the first thirty five minutes of the video. Perhaps later on I'll go back and look at the rest.
The "proofs" he presented are as follows:
1. Fins and scales - the statement of the Mishna that all fish that have scales have fins. So far, to the best of my knowledge, this has found to be true. However, this is hardly proof of the divinity of the Torah (or the Mishna). After all, if one has encountered numerous fish, and found that in every case where there are scales there are also fins, one may be comfortable enough formulate a general rule. This is hardly proof of divinity.
Consider: I'm stating today that there are no cold-blooded mammals. Now, if a thousand years from now we never find a cold-blooded mammal, does that make my statement (or me) divine? Of course not. I simply took what I found and extrapolated a general rule.
2. The nature of the earth (round and rotating): He states that it was Galileo (?) who discovered that the earth was round. (I'm pretty sure that Columbus, sailing a hundred years before Galileo knew it and Magellan's crew, which finished their trip around the world 40 years before Galileo's birth certainly knew it). In any event, the fact that the earth was round was not unknown in Galileo's time or even Columbus time. The earth's roundness was discovered long before by the Greek's who observed the shape that the Earth's shadow cast on the moon during a lunar eclipse.
The author tries to pass off the Zohar as part of TSBP and having been given at Mt. Sinai, without any proof to that statement.
In addition, he brings a proof from the Zohar which states that there is a place on earth where it is light all day except for one hour. The author then tries to sell to us that this "one place" is the North Pole.
As a matter of fact, at the North Pole you do have 24 hours
of daylight, not 23. Secondly, there is a second place where this happens as well - the South Pole - but that seems to have escaped the authors of the Zohar. Thirdly, there are places even distant from the poles that have at least one day of complete light per year - any place north of the Arctic Circle and any place south of the Antarctic Circle will have at least
one of complete light per year (with the number of days increasing as you get closer to the pole). Lastly, the Zohar seems to miss the fact that in these places there is also an extended period of darkness.
3. Revolutionary period of the moon. The Gemara is quoted as mentioning that the period of the moon is 29.5 days and 793/1080 hours. This is a well known Gemara. The Gemara is correct - to a point. The author of the video states that this is how long it takes the moon to revolve around the earth. In this, he is wrong. The time is takes for the moon to revolve around the earth is actually only about 27 and a half days. So, then, what's 29.5 + 793/1080? That's the synodic period
of the moon. If you don't want to click on the Wikipedia link, I'll explain it briefly. The revolutionary period is how long it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth. The synodic period is how long it takes for any given object to return to the same spot in the sky relative to the Sun (as viewed from Earth). Since this period is *based* on observation, it is not terribly difficult to measure it and is hardly proof of divinity.
4. History of Germany - The author quotes the Gemara in Megillah which states that if Germany is allowed to exist, it will destroy the world. Obviously, this is in error as Germany as a nation has existed and yet the world continues to exist. While it is true that they brought devestation on a continent in two wars, this hardly equals destroying the world. The author tries to cover this up by translating the term "destroy the world" as "want to destroy the world."
He then brings the Gemara which states that there are 300 crown princes in Germany. He shows us that in the Peace of Westphalia, 300 princes came together to form the nation. Well, the actual number was closer to 360, but I suppose I can let that slide. However, it is far more logical to state that the Amora was simply describing the state of Germany as it existed back in his time (the Gemara is in present tense anyway). In the Germanic area at the time, there were any number of small tribes in the area.
Lastly, the author claims that the date of Germany's formation was foretold, but never actually produces this.
5. Number of stars. The author brings the Gemara in Berachos (32b) which states that there are 1,604,340,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe. He states that only God could have provided such a number. I will agree with the assessment that only God can provide an exact number to the number of stars. This sounds like an estimate to me. In any event, even if it is an estimate, it's off - current understanding is that there are 70 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 stars in the observable
universe. And if (as I predict they would) someone will say "well, how do you know you're estimate is right?" I would just as easily turn the question back and say "how do you know the Gemara is right?" In short, the proof that the Gemara is divine is that there are that many stars because the Gemara says there are that many stars. That's not a proof that's circular reasoning.
The last bit I caught was when he said (at 20:43 in the video) that it was "only very recently" that it was discovered "that the stars are formed in constellations." I'm not sure what he means by this meaningless sentence. Does he mean that only recently we've discovered constellations? That, of course, is nonsense - the constellations were well known even before Mattan Torah. Does he mean that the stars are formed as parts of constellations?" That's nonsense as well, since they only appear to us that way from Earth, because we lack "depth perception" into space. Is he misusing "constellations" for "galaxies?" Maybe - but the existence of galaxies isn't new news either.
6. Life after Death. In order to prove that there is life after death, he presents some people who have had Near Death Experiences. Hardly proof of anything. There are plenty of people who have had NDEs and seen Jesus. Would the author of the video accept their testimony as well?
7. Predestination - The author then tries to prove that everything (one's income, lifespan, etc.) is predetermined by God. How does he prove this? By observing that some people succeed in life with little effort, while others grind away at the millstone their entire lives and never get out of poverty. Some people with college educations make very little while others who have no college education go on to make fortunes. Some people in terrible shape live long lives, while some professional athletes get cut down in the primes of their lives due to heart attacks, etc.
Of course, this is not proof at all. Firstly, in any large sample, you are bound to have exceptions. But it's not the exception to the rule that proves it - it's the rule itself. If you place all the people with college educations on a bell curve, and all those without college educations on a bell curve, you'll find that as a whole, the people who go to college *do* earn more. If you put healty people in a bell curve (in determining the length of their lives) and non-healthy people, you'll find that, as a whole, the healthier people *do* live longer. That Statistics 101, which the author of the video doesn't seem to grasp.
8. The rest of the video (from 39:40 on) doesn't prove anything.
I'm no scientist, and yet I know enough to see that these proofs are shams. I wish people would not present proofs unless they actually prove something.