1. Lack of evidence does not equal evidence of lack.
I'm sure that many of you have heard this before and it is100% valid. Just because I can't prove that the Inivisible Pink Unicorn does not exist does not mean that it does not exist. Of course, each individual has to weigh for themselves how strongly consider the lack of evidence when making a determination -- but it cannot be used as definitive proof that the object you are considering does not exist.
2. Demolishing a proof does not equal demolishing the underlying argument.
In each case, I will show how the proof being presented is flawed. I will not, however, be presenting any counter-arguments. I will make no statements of my own regarding the Divinity of the Torah (which, for the record, I do believe in), nor will I be making any arguments against it.
3. Don't ever let anyone "guilt" you into believing something.
The site that we're looking at has the following paragraph on it's home page:
The evidence brought down in this website should convince a reader that the Holy Torah was given to the Jewish people by G-d himself. If the evidence does not convince you or someone, that does not mean that the evidence is not strong, it just means that you do not want to be convinced. Just like there are holocaust deniers, even though there is prove, there are G-d deniers even though there is prove.
Did you get that? If you don't believe his proofs, you're the equivalent of a Holocaust denier. All he's trying to do is to make you feel guilty for not believing in his proofs. If you aren't utterly persuaded by my evidence, he (in essence) says, it's not the evidence's fault but yours. Don't fall for that. By all means, if his evidence is conclusive, believe him -- but don't do it because he puts a guilt-trip on you.
That being said, let's get down to his "proofs."
His first proof is as follows:
How does a person keep his/her balance?
Well, according modern science, the ear may hold the answer. "The inner ear includes both the organ of hearing (the cochlea) and a sense organ that is attuned to the effects of both gravity and motion (labyrinth or vestibular apparatus). The balance portion of the inner ear consists of three semi-circular canals and the vestibule." (Wikipedia, Ear)
Since Hebrew is a Holy Language, every word is self descriptive. The word "ear-אוזן" (Ozen) is of the same root as "balance-איזן" (Izun). The linguistic miracle of ancient Hebrew, proves its Divinity.
Pretty cool, no? The ancients must have somehow known that the ear controls the balance of the human body and even encoded it in the Hebrew language by using a similar word for both "ear" and "balance."
This is a classic example of begging-the-question. Begging-the-question is a logical fallacy whereby you assume the point you're trying to prove. The whole proof rests on the fact that we assume that when the words "Ear" and "Balance" were created in the Hebrew Language, they were purposely given similar roots. However, if you consider that it might be a simple coincidence, then the whole proof falls apart.
"Ah," the true believer might counter, "how can you say it's a coincidence? What are the odds that two completely different words would be so similar?" Indeed, the author of the "proof" calls it a "linguistic miracle," implying that it's almost impossible that such a thing could happen naturally.
Alas, that simply isn't the case. To understand why, you might need a (very) brief primer in the Hebrew Language. Words (especially verbs) in Hebrew tend to have three-letter roots, which are then altered (usually with prefixes and suffixes) to denote subject and tense. The author's argument rests on the fact that the roots for ear and balance are the same or similar. The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters. So, the odds of any two three letter words being the same are 1 in 223, or 1 in 10,648. Unusual? Maybe. Miraculous? Hardly. Absolute proof that a Divine Being created the two words? No way. Absolute proof that God authored the Torah? Not even close. Note that the "proof" doesn't address the Divine authorship of the Torah at all. The absolute most it could prove is that those two words (and *prehaps* the Hebrew language) was composed by a Divine Being. But it doesn't even come anywhere close to that.
On to his second proof. This one involves the length of time it takes the moon to orbit the Earth. The Gemara states Rabban Gamliel had a tradition from his father's house that the period between two new moons is not less than 29.0359 days after the previous new moon. Since Rabban Gamliel did not have a telescope or an advanced timepiece, and since the statement is factually true (barring slight variations due to tides, etc.), the fact that he knew this must mean that the knowledge came from a Divine Source. Pretty cool, no?
Now, before I give you the answer to this one, I want you to consider one thing: Suppose the statement is true. Suppose God Himself appeared to Rabban Gamliel (or his ancestors) and said "The period between new moons is not less than..." Does that prove that God gave us the Torah? Does that somehow prove the existence of the Avos? Does that in any way cast evidence on the historicity of Mattan Torah or the Exodus? The answer, very simply, is no, it does not. It simply means that Rabban Gamliel had a tradition from God Himself on this one fact.
That being said, now let's look at the facts. I don't know that God Himself didn't, in fact, appear to Rabban Gamliel's ancestors and impart this fact. But we do know that the Babylonian astronomer Naburimani also calculated the synodic period of the moon (the fancy way of saying the time between one new moon and the next) several hundred years before Rabban Gamliel lived.
"Ah, " the true believer will say "perhaps the Babylonians got the figure from us. After all, how could the Babylonians (or anyone else from the ancient world) have figured it out to such precision?"
Before we answer the question, let's consider the fact that while it's possible that the Babylonians got the figure from us, there is no proof of it. It's at least just as likely that Rabban Gamliel's ancestors got the figure from the Babylonians. Nonetheless, there is a simple way to figure out the synodic period of the Moon. Since a solar eclipse can *only* occur at the time of conjunction between the sun and the moon, all you need to do is calculate the number of days between two solar eclipses and divide it between the number of lunar months between those two eclipses. Don't believe me? Go to this list of solar eclipses and calculate it for yourself. (Keep in mind, of course, that the number of lunar months is not the same as the number of solar months. There are 235 lunar months in 19 years, not 228). You too will be able to easily calculate the synodic period to a few decimal places. Since it is presumed that the ancients did know how to count days and months, it is hardly a Divine miracle that the ancients possessed this knowledge.*
On to the third proof. This time, the author brings a Gemara in Niddah which tells us that all fish that have scales also have fins. Only a Divine Being, the argument tells us, with knowledge of every fish species in the world could possibly have made such a statement. After all, the ancients certainly didn't know of every species of fish on their own. Heck, we're still discovering new species of fish today. Hence, such a definitive statement could only have come from an all-knowing God. No non-omniscient man could possibly have made such a statement.
To the best of my knowledge, the statement is correct. Although I am not a marine biologist, I am not aware of any species of fish that has a fin but no scales. Pretty convincing, no?
Again, however, the author is making the leap from asserting that if one statement of the Torah is true, it must all be true. There is simply no basis for such an assertion. As with the period of the moon, the *most* that it can prove is that God told the ancients secrets of marine biology that they could not have otherwise known.
But it doesn't even prove that. This is yet another case of begging-the-question and assuming that a Divine authorship before proving it. To illustrate, let me give you an example. I'm going to make a statement right now: Every star (barring collapsed, dead stars) conducts nuclear fusion in it's core. Now, fast forward 1000 years, a million years or even a billion years and suppose we find that, indeed, every star that they've ever found fuses atoms in its core. Does the fact that I made that successful prediction make me Divine? After all, I certainly didn't examine every star in the universe. How could I possibly know that there are no stars that don't fuse atoms?
The answer, of course, is that I simply extrapolated from what I do know and made a general rule. Since I know that every star we've found so far fuses atoms, it's not too hard to make a rule that all stars conduct nuclear fusion. Similarly, an ancient, examining the fish around him, could easily notice that every fish that has scales also has fins and make such a rule.
"Ah, " the true believer will counter, "but wouldn't he be afraid of being caught? Wouldn't he be afraid to make such a statement if there was even a possibility that someone in the future might disprove him? Surely someone making such a statement would have to be 100% sure, or else face the possibility of being disproven."
This, however, is another example of begging the question. The believer is assuming that the person making the statement would be afraid of "being caught." But is that the only possibility? Perhaps he wasn't concerned about being incorrect. Perhaps he simply thought he was correct just as I think I am about stars. Perhaps he was simply making a general rule without regard for exceptions. In short, you can't prove that this statement came from a Divine source and you certainly can't prove from this that the entire Torah is Divine in origin.
The author has quite a few more "proofs" at his site and I don't have time to go through them all. Perhaps I'll look at some of the others another time. But the important thing I want you to take away from the post is this -- just because someone says that something is a proof, that doesn't make it so. In order for it to truly be a proof, it has to stand up to tests against both logic and empirical fact. Sadly, none of the "proofs" that I posted about here do that.
* As an aside, if you want an interesting eye-opener into how much astronomy you could learn with only a stick, a rope and a stone, read chapter 5 of Neil DeGrasse Tyson's book Death by Black Hole.