A deluded rabbi explains why everyone is a believer

Much to my chagrin, the Parade of Apologist Rabbis continues in the religion pages of PuffHo.  Here is Rabbi Adam Jacobs of New York, with “The God test: why really everyone believes.” It really is the dumbest piece written by a rabbi that’s been HuffPo on my watch, and that’s saying something.

The good rabbi’s thesis is that if we’re really all just collections of molecules governed by the laws of physics, then nothing has any meaning: human kindness, evil, morality—the whole schmear.  The underlying thesis, of course, is that all such meaning comes from Yahweh. And to the extent that we atheists have morals and perceive meaning in our lives, we’re all secret believers!

Here’s the dumbest of Jacobs’s many stupid statements.

“Often, I’ve inquired of non-believers if it at all vexes them that nothing that they have ever done or will ever do will make the slightest difference to anyone on any level? “

Do I need to refute this?  How many of my readers’ lives have been saved by medical intervention? Isn’t that meaningful?  I’ve turned several students toward studying evolution, and convinced many more that evolution has meaning and value in understanding the world.  Doesn’t that make a difference?  Any atheist could make a list of things we’ve done that have made a difference.

Jacobs then poses three questions, and if you answer these in the “right” way (i.e. you wouldn’t sell off your parents’ ashes for a bag of kibble), then you’re a believer!

Here are the three questions that we atheists have to answer, and if you say “no” to #1, “don’t smash that person’s head in!” to #2, and “yes, art is intrinsically significant,” then don your kippah take your place in the synagogue!

“1. Would you be willing to sell your parent’s remains for dog food?”

“2. You and someone you dislike are stranded on a desert island with a functioning ham radio. One day you hear that there has been a terrible earthquake that has sent a massive tsunami hurtling directly for your island and you both have only one hour to live. Does it make any difference whether you spend your last hour alive comforting and making amends with your (formerly) hated companion or smashing his head in with fallen, unripe coconuts? “

“3. Is love, art, beauty or morality intrinsically significant?”

I needn’t refute this article; it’s a waste of electrons.  Poor Rabbi Jacobs.

h/t: Sigmund

168 Comments

  1. Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    If the rabbi is right then he is out of a job, and he can line up in the dole queue with all equally redundant vicars, mullahs &c. Your average orang utan (not to mention lots of dogs I’ve been privileged to know) could pass his ‘believer’ test, so organised religion isn’t needed and never was.

  2. yesmyliege
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Question: What is the proper Jewish word for the rabbi who finishes dead last in his graduating class ?

    Answer: “rabbi”

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      In some of the very orthodox sects, if one studies the bible, then one has the right to call himself ‘rabbi’. There might be a congregation of 100 families which contains 150 rabbis. This reminds me of the Groucho Marx quote from his autobiography Groucho and Me (1959)
      I sent the club a wire stating, “PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER”.

  3. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    He forgot the fourth question: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

    • Doc
      Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Where does that connect with Judaism?

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

        Well, gee, I guess the fact that I was quoting Julius Marx, a Jewish entertainer, makes a connection. Of course, you seem to lack the ability to get the idea that I was lampooning that the three questions posed in the original post were totally nonsense questions with no value whatsoever, and not making any statement about anyone’s religion per se. A question more to the point for you might be “Why do you keep flogging a dead horse?”, but, then, this is all about you, isn’t it?

        I will now paraphrase a line that Dan Ackroyd made famous on Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update” feature in the late ’70s, substituting “Doc” for “Jane”. There is no need for me to cite the actual cachphrase, as everyone here probably knows what it is.

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted November 14, 2011 at 8:19 am | Permalink

          What is the reason for this kind of hostility? Can’t people have discussions and disagreements without engaging in ad hominem attacks?

          Call me what you like, but I will refrain from any such unnecessary nonsense.

          I find Doc’s posting to be both intelligent and charming, quite the opposite of what you wish to imply here.

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted November 14, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

          By the way Doc, the “beating your wife” reference doesn’t connect with Judaism per se.

          It’s a question that contains a false accusation that is not denied by answering either yes or no. The question is a trap.

          The implication was that the rabbi’s three questions were of this nature, in that they implied things about atheists that are not true or ill conceived.

          • Doc
            Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

            Mr. Johnson, I thank you for your courage, integrity, and kindness.

            Below, you will see an apparently out of character response from me. The writer appears guilt ridden for having circumcised her son, and turning that guilt to anger, is projecting it onto a vulnerable stranger: me. I intended to verbally shock some sense into her with my response. I knew of no kinder or gentler way to bring her around to insight, frightening as it may be. None of us is perfect, and all parents have regrets. I only hope she sees in time that despite his initial pain, her son finds no loss of function or pleasure, only a decreased risk of communicable diseases, both to him and through him to his sexual partners, including, someday, the mother of her grandchildren.

            Until we hear from Dr. Coyne, I offer this common sense view: A glass holds water when held upright, forming a receptical and being comparable to both vagina and to space between foreskin and penis. It does not, when held upside down, but instead forms a barrier comparable to a circumcised penis. The comparison is not exact, of course. The urethal opening of the penis is still at risk, however, it is quite small compared to the area under the foreskin. Taking exposed tissue characteristics into account only adds to the distinction.

            As for sensation, I began performing surgery when HIV was newly discovered. Like others, I double-gloved. Unlike others, both my pairs were extra thick orthopaedic gloves. Later incidental testing of my sensorium under heavy, loose workman’s gloves showed exquisite senses of touch, apparently owing to learning and adapting from the start. The highly trained hand therapist, lecturing and using me for an example from the crowd, was shocked at his findings, until I explained.

            I hope this helps. And, again, I am most grateful to you.

            Doc

            • Diane G.
              Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

              The writer appears guilt ridden for having circumcised her son, and turning that guilt to anger, is projecting it onto a vulnerable stranger: me. I intended to verbally shock some sense into her with my response.

              “Guilt ridden.” No.

              “Anger.” No.

              “Vulnerable.” You?

              “Verbally shock some sense into her.” I beg your pardon?!

              Your projection vector is pointing the wrong way.

  4. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Hey, Rabbi, I’m putting FOOD on your table. L

  5. Dermot C
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    “Often, I’ve inquired of non-believers if it at all vexes them that nothing that they have ever done or will ever do will make the slightest difference to anyone on any level? “

    For a beautiful, touching and intellectually rigorous refutation of this, see Dan Dennett’s thank you letter to the medical staff who saw him through his heart problems in 2006.

    • raven
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      It is far more often to be the opposite.

      “that nothing that they (the gods or angels) have ever done or will ever do will make the slightest difference to anyone on any level?, especially since they don’t even exist “

      Fixed.

      What have the gods done lately? What have the gods done in the last few millennia? Ever? Nothing much. There is no evidence that they even exist.

  6. Physicalist
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Any atheist could make a list of things we’ve done that have made a difference.

    What? Our choices make a difference?

    You’ve become a compatibilist!

  7. Keith
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    What if my parents would have been pleased by the dog food transaction, and doing so brought joy, pleasure and delight to dogs and dog lovers? And while we’re at it, we should certainly ask about the counter party’s motivations for wanting to buy these particular cremated remains in a world where ashes from many sources are easily obtained.

  8. Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    The big question is who buys into what this rabbi is spewing outside of the rabbi.
    Does this kind of irrational rationalization actually make sense to anyone else?

  9. godskesen
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    That’s some weapons-grade stupid right there.

    Question 3 especially annoyed me. What does “significant” mean in this context?! How is intrinsic significance different from other kinds of significance (extrinsic significance presumably)? Is one a believer if one only considers those things significant but not intrinsically so – and significant of what in particular?! There is no such things as “just significant”. What is being signified?

    That question is just empty manipulation. It feels bad to answer “no” because we wouldn’t want to seem like cruel people. And for that, we’re “secretly believers”? Fuck that! It is only by not thinking through and clarifying his own meaning that the Rabbi is able to make his religion seem plausible. But I guess that’s nothing new…

  10. Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Why has the Rabbi asked these questions and written this piece? Is he hoping to convert non believers? Does he really mean to insult me by suggesting I did not accomplish anything in my life to help this dear earth of ours and its inhabitants? And, by what facts does he believe his Yahweh is real any more than all the other gods? Why Rabbi would I want to believe in the bloodthirsty god of the jewish bible? You obviously are not well read about your own religion.

  11. Brian Utterback
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I think you have misunderstood the Rabbi. He is not suggesting that you sell your parent remains in exchange for dog food, he is asking if you would be willing to sell your parents remains to be made into dog food. See, ashes wouldn’t work, not even for kibble, it still needs to be meat. I hope that clears everything up and you and the Rabbi can agree now.

    • SimBri
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Well my cat’s dry food always says what ash content it has, now I’m starting to wonder…

  12. Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    ‘The good rabbi’s thesis is that if we’re really all just collections of molecules governed by the laws of physics,’

    If you believe our bodies are not just collections of molecules governed by the laws pf physics, then stop taking knives to it and cutting bits of it off to appease your god.

    • Still learning
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      +1

  13. Steve Smith
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Rabbi Jacobs: “one random grouping of molecules interacting with another has no inherent meaning or value.”

    Now wait a second! A rainbow is caused by a random grouping of molecules interacting with another, yet we know from
    Genesis 9:15-16 that the rainbow God’s reminder to Himself that He promised not to slaughter all mankind again, or at least slaughter us in a flood.

    Is Rabbi Jacobs saying that God’s rainbow reminder not to kill all humans has no inherent meaning or value?

    I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
    And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

  14. Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    ‘Would you be willing to sell your parent’s remains for dog food?”’

    No, but I would take a knife to my baby son and cut off a bit of his penis.

    Darn it! I’m a secret believer. He got me!

  15. Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Depends. Is the dog food kosher?

    • Maverick
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      Technically, yes. Cannibalism isn’t forbidden by the Torah.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        A dog eating human remains is not cannabilism. </pedant>

      • Doc
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Technically, cannabalism IS forbidden by Torah. Humans are not kosher animals. They live on land and do not have the required split hoof AND cud chewing anatomy. If they lived in water, they’s have to have both fins and scales. Now, I know a few humans that almost seem to qualify, but it’s unfair to the animals…

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          No less an authority than Karl Würf, author of To Serve Man (from the Damon Knight short story) relates, in his recipe for Menschfleish Kreplach, Kosher Style: “Kreplach is sort of a Jewish won-ton (which can be defined as Chinese ravioli [which, of course, is a kind of Italian Kreplach]) However, since man-flesh is incurably treife, there is no such thing as Kosher Menschfleish Kreplach. Sorry” (page 40).He does, however, offer a number of other delightful ethnic dishes, including Hungarian Ghoulash, Mannerschnitzel, Homme Bourguigon and Chili con Hombre.

    • Jack van Beverningk
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      I think the Rabbi meant it more like:
      “Would you be willing to sell your parent’s remains AS dog food?”

  16. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t quite understand the tsunami part of question #2.
    If I would answer that I would smash in the head of that person I don’t like … why would I wait doing that till I know I have only one hour left to live? Why not do it on day 1?

    • Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Yeah. After all, he’ll have more meat on him then.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      What if I spent the last hour of my life neither making amends with my enemy nor assaulting him? What if I just want to sit and watch the ocean until it kills me?

    • Dave Ricks
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      The tsunami scenario is supposed to make us consider how we would behave without our everyday “worldly” motivations to behave well in society — like our motivation in the positive to leave behind a good legacy, and our motivation in the negative to avoid punishment. The rabbi believes the scenario leaves people with only supernatural motivations to behave well.

      But the rabbi’s implied assumption or hypothesis is now challenged or falsified by the existence of naturalistic descriptions of morality. On Ophelia Benson’s recommendation, I’m reading Patricia Churchland’s book Braintrust about the naturalistic foundation or physical platform of morality. This book srsly kicks ass. I read Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape, and I wanted to like it — now I am finding Braintrust much more satisfying.

  17. Tom Dobrzeniecki
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting to me that Mr. Howe notes that, if everyone believes,
    then the rabbi is out of a job. Also, cgosling asks “why has the rabbi
    asked these questions and written this piece”?

    If EVERYONE believes, then what is the point of the very concept of belief?

    As Alan Watts has said, you can’t have the inside of a cup without the outside
    of the cup.

    “Belief” only becomes meaningful if some people DON’T believe! Otherwise, it
    is as meaningless as saying “things are”.

    Of course, the real question is: in WHAT do you believe? The Rabbi seems to
    conflate human sentiment for 1)our parents, 2) our fellow human beings, or 3) art
    with a belief in a turn-you-into-a-pillar-of-salt God with a long white beard.

    Why can’t you have sentiment without a supernatural being? In the world of natural selection, it is an advantage to feel an attachment to our parents and fellow humans.

    Attachment to art is more of a mystery — perhaps sexual, like the utility of the peacock’s tail.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      “Belief” only becomes meaningful if some people DON’T believe!

      So you’re saying that without us atheists the theists are meaningless. Does that mean that we are effectively giving meaning to their sorry lives?

  18. Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    If a tsunami is coming anyway, why waste a perfectly good piece of food by using it as a weapon?
    I would cheerfully leave my OWN remains to the Alpo company. Why not? I’ll be dead. Besides, I hated my parents.
    The art question is an utter non sequitur.
    What is the rabbi’s advantage in arguing that we are all latent believers? If I reject religion on rational grounds, isn’t that good enough?
    I have a question for the rabbi: If you’re on railway tracks and notice a train is coming, would you step out of the way? Why? Don’t you believe in Heaven?

  19. Patrick
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    If loving someone means valuing them unconditionally for who they are…

    …and the Rabbi believes its impossible to find value or meaning in caring for others unless a God exists…

    …then the Rabbi only values others conditionally and in relationship to a deity…

    …then our friend the Rabbi is incapable of loving others, caring for them, or feeling real compassion.

    One of the major psychopathies of apologetics is that they are purportedly aimed at non believers, but in reality are often calibrated at reassuring members of the faith. This creates a massive disconnect when arguments that might feel comforting to his co-religionists are actually used against a non believing audience. The self flattering myths that religious groups create about themselves aren’t automatically assumed by the new audience, who often finds the apologetic arguments horrific and discrediting rather than convincing.

    This Rabbi needs to step back and try, as hard as he can, to imagine what his arguments look like to someone not steeped in his own religious tradition. Because as of right now, the worst possible insults I could throw at him he’s already levied at himself, without realizing it.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Yeah, this is right up there with Christian moralists who self-righteously insist that the only thing holding them back from a life of wanton rape, murder, and Ponzi schemes is the idea that Jesus wouldn’t like it.

  20. Patrick
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Oh, and regards the dog food, my wife wants a sky burial.

    So, vulture food?

    For myself, I don’t really care what happens to my body as long as it doesn’t permanently waste a 4 by 8 plot of land.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      My wife (stage four cancer) has decided on fireworks for her ashes. See http://www.heavenlystarsfireworks.com/

      after all, we all came from the stars…

      A fireworks display beats a funeral service any day!

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Interesting send-off!

        I’m very sorry about your wife’s plight.

  21. Mattapult
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    What if the rabbi is right about his thesis, but wrong about his choice of god? He might really be a believer in Allah.

    …and the Muslims shouldn’t have to hate him now.

  22. Dr. I. Needtob Athe
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I lost interest in reading at that first incoherent sentence: “Try as I might, I continue to be startled by the mindset of the non-believer.”

    “Try as I might” to do what? The sentence seems to imply that he tries to be startled, and that his ongoing effort to do so continues to be successful.

    • Dr. I. Needtob Athe
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      But that was being too critical. Forget about that. Instead I’ll comment on this statement:

      “Often, I’ve inquired of non-believers if it at all vexes them that nothing that they have ever done or will ever do will make the slightest difference to anyone on any level?”

      I don’t believe that, and probably none of us here do, but if we did believe it then what difference would it make if it vexes us? Should our beliefs reflect the way we would like things to be?

      As Lawrence Krauss said, “If we could just convince a lot of people of just that simple thing: that the universe is the way it is whether we like it or not, I think we’d overcome a lot of problems in this country…”

      YouTube link: http://tinyurl.com/74o4uwr

  23. Occam
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Try as I might, I continue to be startled by the mindlessness of the believer.

    Dog food, no; Soylent greeen, yes.

    I could go on in this vein, though the schmuck is hardly worth it. But since this nonsense is pawed by a rabbi, I’ll address question #1 from my perspective of the Jewish experience in the last century.

    I’ve known a number of concentration camp survivors, including my own father, who credibly assured me that at times they would have done anything, literally, for just one spoonful of dog food. Anything. There is very little the human being is not capable of, under extreme duress.

    The rabbi’s frivolous mindgame, indeed the entire mindset he manifests in this nauseating stuss, is obscene in the extreme.

    This being Caturday, a git yom tov to all non-theists, and a crude gesture towards any Holy Joe who could benefit from an enema before pontificating.

  24. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    “1. Would you be willing to sell your parent’s remains for dog food?”

    Not my parents’ (they’ve been dead for many years and are well past their sell by date. On the other hand, I would do that to my sister and she ain’t even dead yet.

  25. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    The rabbi is using a double edged weapon. If atheists behave the same way as believers, what use is a god?

  26. Doc
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    1. Forget ashes, I’d be pleased to know my remains were grokked and eaten by my beloved cats, or any cats, for that matter.
    2. As for the other bloke on the island, if he doesn’t want to work together for maximum chance of survival, I won’t lower my personal chance by wasting time on him in anycase. Maybe those coconuts float and could help me survive the tsunami. Those on boats do better than those on land.
    3. Form and function over fashion. It’s a longheld motto of mine. Like Mazlo’s heirarchy, in a way.
    4. My turn to pick a nit: Real Jews (even atheist ones) don’t say “Yahweh.” Christians (and former Christians) do. Jews say “God”, “Adonai” or, if orthodox believers, “HaShem.”
    I’m an atheist Jew or a Jewish atheist, and I find HaShem rather quaintly respectful. On the other hand, it’s also somewhat atheistically accurate: “God” is only a name, and “HaShem” means, literally, “The Name.”

    • raven
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Whatever.

      I often call the fundie god, the Invisible Sky Monster, shortened to Sky Monster. It’s an accurate description of its nature.

      The more generic xian god can be called the Invisible Sky Fairy, shortened for convenience to Sky Fairy. Also more accurate.

      Nonexistent can be substituted for Invisible but isn’t preferred.

      And generically god is “the gods”. There have been thousands and thousands of them, although most currently aren’t all that popular.

  27. Tim
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    With apologies to Richard Dawkins, even if it were true that the universe had been created by “the most unplesant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”, I fail to see why it would give my life meaning.

    • Marella
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Well if I actually believed in the existence of this god it would give my life meaning, because I would have no other choice morally than to spend all my time and energy in fighting it. Fortunately it doesn’t exist so I can do something else.

  28. Scryptic
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    So are the sophistimacated theologians going to come along and tell the rabbi where he’s mistaken? Or will they remain curiously silent despite the silliness of this argument?

    • Microraptor
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      It’s a very sophisticated silence.

  29. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    if we’re really all just collections of molecules governed by the laws of physics, then nothing has any meaning

    Classic textbook example of a non sequitur.

    My immediate response to this opening statement of his argument would be: “Oh? Why?”

    If his answer then would be “because it’s God who gives meaning to things” .. then he upgraded his non sequitur to a classic textbook example of circular reasoning.

    It’s all so mind-numbingly .. what’s the word I’m looking for?

    • Sastra
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      “Babyish?”

      • Jack van Beverningk
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Mmm.. nah .. ‘babyish’ has too much of a ‘cute’ factor.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          Boring & predictable?

        • truthspeaker
          Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Infantile?

          Juvenile?

          • Marella
            Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            Puerile.

          • ttch
            Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

            Theological!

  30. Sastra
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The rabbis’s mindset reflects a view of the world steeped in what Bruce Hood calls “supersense,” intuitions that the world operates and connects through hidden structures and mechanisms which are essentialist and mind-like. To a supernaturalist, all values, abstractions, and thoughts are magical, spiritual things: when you reduce them to their components, you lose what makes them what they are. It’s concrete, reductionist thinking — with those who think this way then projecting their own flaws out to those of us who can transcend such clunky simplicity and understand the nuances of relationships.

    I mean, look at this:

    Often, I’ve inquired of non-believers if it at all vexes them that nothing that they have ever done or will ever do will make the slightest difference to anyone on any level?

    WTF? “On any level?” Did the rabbi not notice that he just refuted his whole argument? Atheists are capable of going from the part to the whole: believers just seem to equate them into a dreary and pointless “like comes from like.”

    As people above have noted, there is no such thing as “meaning” floating around without reference to an evaluator. Even if you bring in God, God has to have meaning TO US or God doesn’t mean anything either.

    Arguments like this are not only insulting, but revealing. They’re reifying abstractions. This silly little essay is nothing more than an extended version of the old “You can’t hold love/beauty/purpose in your hand or measure it with a ruler — but it’s real. Therefore, these things must exist as essences in a spiritual plane.”

    They think like small children and call it the wisdom of the self-evident.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted November 13, 2011 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      Even if you bring in God, God has to have meaning TO US or God doesn’t mean anything either.

      There, you’ve made up a new god aphorism for the profoundly confused…

      God:
      the uncreadted creator
      the uncaused cause
      the meaningless meaning

  31. Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I refuse to play the rabbi’s game. There are always more than two options.

    1. Would you be willing to sell your parent’s remains for dog food?

    With my siblings’ concurrence, I would offer my parents’ organs and tissues for transplant, and donate their bodies to medical research — as I have directed be done with my own body. If my dog were going hungry, I’m sure I could find something to do to make five bucks for dog food. Maybe I’d start a dog-walking service.

    2. The desert island thing… Would I make amends with a rival, or murder him on the last day of our lives?

    I would have made amends on the first day!

    3. Is love, art, beauty or morality intrinsically significant?

    Intrinsically? No, they isn’t.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      No, they isn’t.

      :)

  32. daveau
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    1. It depends on how hungry the dog is, but OTOH I’d have no problem if it was done to me. I just don’t want to hurt my siblings feelings.

    2. I guess it wouldn’t make any difference in the long run, anyway. But I would have tried to make amends before that, seeing as how we were stuck on that island and all.

    3. On one level, it’s just an arrangement of atoms. On another, it interacts with my brain, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s significant.

    Not one of these supports “therefore, God.”

    • daveau
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      I guess I shouldn’t take so long to type, eh, Peter?

      • Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        I have learned to refresh the page just before posting!

        • daveau
          Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          See, you’re educable. That’s the difference.

          Wouldn’t have stopped me. Completely amused by the similarity. I’d bet most of JC’s readers have a similar opinion.

  33. Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    If there were any good reasons for believing in gods and cosmic purposes, Jacobs would be able to present evidence to that effect and make an honest case. Instead, he is reduced to insisting that those who dismiss his fantasies are only pretending. Materialists ought to be immoral nihilists, dammit, and if they turn out not to be — then they’re not really materialists! It’s the rabbi who’s in denial.

    I’ve written a full critique here.

  34. Jim Mauch
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Value in life is not found through adding to superstition but rather through adding to society. By our contributing to society we are making this world a better place. We are no longer superstitious hunter gatherers whose main concern is hoping to not be done-in by the next passing predator, parasite or neighboring tribe looking for human sacrifice. Well I guess some of us aren’t.

  35. Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It’s astonishing how quickly and reliably and frequently the religious and their apologists reveal themselves, in their speech and writings, to be so bigoted, prejudiced and, just on a simple level, downright nasty human beings.

    It must be a universal rule or law of some kind. Maybe we should have a word for it?

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Bigodtry?

      Which inspired me to search the etymology of bigot:

      Origin: 1590–1600; < Middle French (Old French: derogatory name applied by the French to the Normans), perhaps < Old English bī God by God

  36. PeteJohn
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    It really drives me nuts that theists insist on defending their faith by making “If there’s no supreme being, then there’s no meaning to anything!” It’s a stupid statement A) because things are true or not regardless of the implication of their truthfulness and B) a life wherein people behave a certain way so as to NOT avoid punishment isn’t particularly meaningful anyway. I read that stupid argument and my eyes glaze over.

    • Sastra
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      The annoying thing is that they seem to want it both ways. The ‘meaning of things’ is best explained by inferring the existence of God — AND if God doesn’t exist, then everything would stop having meaning.

      It’s like someone saying that the most reasonable explanation for the rings around Saturn is that they are particles of fairy dust — and if we were to discover instead they’re not made out of fairy dust, then they’re not there in the first place. We would be discovering there are no rings after all, we never saw them, there is nothing to explain, etc. So we NEED to believe the fairy dust explanation of the data lest we lose all the data we’re trying to explain.

      And these are supposed to be deep thinkers. They’re not even shallow.

  37. Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Just one of twenty ringtones for your phone by the good Rabbi: Rabbi Adam Jacobs – Parsha Masei :)

  38. Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I’d be interested to know how analytical philosophers deal with such things as ‘meaning’ and ‘dignity’ and suchlike murkiness in their calculations. Or do they just leave them out altogether?

  39. Jeff Johnson
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Three signs that all believers are actually atheists but don’t realize it:

    1. When their child is sick, do you ask God to heal them, or do you take them to a doctor for treatment?

    If your answer is the doctor, you are an atheist.

    2. Is it incumbent upon believers to speak of their belief and teach it to others, so they may also find God?

    If you answer yes, you are an atheist, because you don’t believe that God has the power to make himself known to whomever he pleases.

    3. If your country is attacked, should your military take vengeance upon the attackers? If a heinous crime is committed, should the criminal be punished by imprisonment or even the pain of death?

    If you answered yes to these questions, then you believe that God is powerless to intervene and bring justice into this world. And you don’t believe in the infinite torture of hell, or any retribution in the afterlife, because you know that God will not mete out this punishment and see that justice is done. Therefore, you are an atheist.

    • PeteJohn
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Well we all know that believers aren’t capable of thinking about their thinking. Or thinking in the first place.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      There are no “faith plumbers” in the Yellow Pages. When it comes to getting your toilet fixed, everyone’s an atheist.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Very nice!

  40. Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I’ve inquired of non-believers if it at all vexes them that nothing that they have ever done or will ever do will make the slightest difference to anyone on any level?

    So the rabbi slings venomous insults disguised as inquiries. Good to know what sort of vicious coward we’re dealing with.

  41. Bruce A. Head
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    He writes “If you are willing to define the human experience as nothing more than an arbitrary series of chemicals, atoms and other blind and indifferen­t forces acting in concert, then at the end of the day, you necessaril­y concede that human emotion and experience are intrinsica­lly meaningles­s.”

    A nonsensical straw man. Meaning does not arise from the laws of physics, it arises from human consciousness/intelligence interpreting the world. This is like saying “If you believe that an apple falls from a tree just because it is affected by gravity, then you necessaril­y concede that an apple has no taste.”

  42. Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    The rabbi forgot to explain how being God’s abused pets gives our lives any more inherent meaning.

    • Tulse
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Yep, by his criteria cows’ lives have meaning because humans raise them for meat.

      • Notagod
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Christ was raised for meat. They are still making sandwiches with It.

  43. Notagod
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    OK rabbit, let’s see if your questions cause me to become a christian.

    1. [dog food] The rabbi has tangled many issues into this question, I won’t delve into all those issues. As my parent’s bodies are their own, I would do with their bodies as they request, as long as it is legally permissible and it doesn’t cause harm to the living. However, my request is that my body be disposed of at the very least possible expense and certainly if for some reason it has value as opposed to expense, as long as it is not harmful, grab the value from it. Dog food, roach food, worm food, rabbi food, no problem. OK, the last one is unproductive and harmful, so I wouldn’t prefer that use for my body, and dog food brings up some welfare issues for the doggie that would be of concern.

    2. [coconut head] What the rabbit? First I would use 5 minutes to ascertain there was absolutely nothing that could be done or constructed to help coconut head and/or myself, failing that, I would be doing the most joy filled fun thing I could find. Listen rabbit, coconut head is going to be dead in 55 minutes and you suppose that I’m going to spend my last 55 minutes trying to hasten that death? Mr. rabbit, of your faculty, have you lost all intrinsic value?

    3. [horse cruelly placed behind cart] Love, art, beauty or morality(why so shallowly vague?), have no internal mechanism to understand the concept of intrinsic. No, there is no intrinsic value there. The value is to those potentially involve not to the object or emotion itself. A painting has no internal value other than a common molecular bond.

    Now Mr. rabbi lets see if you are an atheist, only one question. Of all the currently held gods which are in conflict unavoidably, which ones haven’t you raised to an atheistic sense of, within your normal life activities?

  44. David Galiel
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    You DO need to refute the article – on PuffHo. Because of the impressionable young people who read it and don’t have the critical thinking to understand the logical fallacies.

    This is the EXACTLY the problem. To few scientists go where the gullible are. Posting this here is (pardon the pun) preaching to the choir.

    Remember, most readers of PuffHo are politically active – they DO vote.

    Please reconsider, and write a point by point, thoughtful rebuttal of e Rabbi’s crap – and submit it as an article, not just as a comment there where it will be buried and no one will see.

    Sam Harris writes there occasionally. Virtually no other prominent thinkers do. Woowoo predominates. Imagine the audience you can reach!

    • Tom Dobrzeniecki
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Aside from reaching an audience, I really don’t think it proper to dismiss someone with a hand wave. I’m a little disappointed in Dr. Coyne for doing it.

      If an argument was sincerely made by someone not currently in a mental institution, I think it deserves a response. If his argument really is a poor one, then it shouldn’t take you long to demolish it.

      Saying, “I don’t want to waste my time” doesn’t fly. If it was important enough to mention, it is important enough to answer.

      Dismissing someone with a hand wave is kind of a cheesy trick. Take the time to answer.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Jerry did answer, in the article you’re commenting on.

        • Microraptor
          Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

          Besides that, it’s not like the argument is anything new, and if the argument is just the same old lame apologetics, why should Professor Coyne bother wasting his time offering an in depth refutation, since so many other people have already done so? It’s not like he doesn’t have anything better to do with his time.

          • Tom Dobrzeniecki
            Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

            As I’ve mentioned before, saying “I don’t have the time” is not a very good excuse, especially when the next post is a group of cat pictures.

            It’s rude to dismiss someone with a hand wave.
            Have the courtesy to respond.

            I’ve never cared for “as any two-year-old can plainly see”, Nazi-like, table pounding explanations, which one of my teachers once called “proof by intimidation”.

            State your argument, not your arrogance.

            • Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

              Umm. . . this is a partial refutation, right?

              Do I need to refute this? How many of my readers’ lives have been saved by medical intervention? Isn’t that meaningful? I’ve turned several students toward studying evolution, and convinced many more that evolution has meaning and value in understanding the world. Doesn’t that make a difference? Any atheist could make a list of things we’ve done that have made a difference.

              and I decided to leave it up to the readers to address the other arguments. This is an interactive website, you know.

              And you’re a troll who has just insulted the host. Go away.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

              And what is your argument Mr. Dobr…er…Tom?

              Do you believe God gives meaning to life, the Universe, and Everything?

              The readers of this site don’t really demand an argument here, because we don’t believe in God and we don’t experience our lives as meaningless, so it’s obvious that God is not required to create meaning. What’s to argue?

              Here are the questions I’d like to hear answered by the “God creates meaning” crowd:

              If God creates meaning, what exactly is that meaning?

              Specifically what meaning is impossible without God?

              If God has a plan (the one that’s supposed to make all of existence meaningful), what is that plan?

              If you don’t know and can’t say what the plan is, how does it actually create any meaning at all?

            • truthspeaker
              Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

              Jerry did state his argument – in the article directly above.

          • Posted November 13, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

            The refutation is intended for the large audience of readers of the Huffington Post. Without it, all they read is crap like the Rabbi’s.

            The purpose of countering this kind of woowoo is not to convince the purveyor of woowoo; it is to provide a rare scientific counter-voice to the overwhelming anti-science voices to which Americans are exposed.

            HuffPo are likely to post a scientist’s rebuttal as an article in their religious section; their main concern is circulation, and nothing boosts that like a nice controversy.

            The benefit for science? Immense.

            The relative effort of debunking? Minimal.

            The value of bringing a reasonable voice of science to the readers of Huffington Post?
            Priceless.

          • Diane G.
            Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

            Also, who would want to be caught dead on PuffHo?

            JAC writes for USA Today, among other venues. He’s more than pulling his weight in these matters.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        So when Dr. Johnson famously declared “I refute it thus!” and kicked a rock in response to a question about solipcism, was that a cheesy trick too?

        • Tom Dobrzeniecki
          Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

          No, that was a response. I very Zen-like response. I approve.

          A cheesy trick is avoiding making a response by bogus claims of being too busy.

          See “proof by intimidation” in my post above.

          • whyevolutionistrue
            Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

            Ahh, the troll is still with us. Where did I say I was “too busy”?

      • raven
        Posted November 13, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        If an argument was sincerely made by someone not currently in a mental institution, I think it deserves a response.

        No it doesn’t.

        Trolls are dime a hundred, dumb people are dime a hundred, and our lives are finite. Wasting time on them isn’t a good use of our lifespans.

        You are a dumb troll. Go away.

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted November 13, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          “Wasting time on them isn’t a good use of our lifespans.”

          And it subtracts meaning from our lives! :)

  45. Posted November 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I propose the abbreviation “HuffPuff” for the Huffington Post.

    • Microraptor
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      That sounds too much like a Harry Potter reference.

  46. Posted November 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Poor Rabbi Jacobs? Bah. Poor Judaism! Where are these improvident lackwits coming from (and why must the HufflePuff insist on paying money for such drivel)?

    Frankly, Jews deserve far better and far smarter people to represent the faith.

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      “Frankly, Jews deserve far better and far smarter people to represent the faith.”

      Yes, we do, and we have them. They just don’t write for PuffHo.

      • yesmyliege
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        You’re Jewish? Funny – you don’t look it. :D

    • Occam
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      “Frankly, Jews deserve far better and far smarter people to represent the faith.”

      Why the Jews in particular?
      No, they don’t. We don’t. Nobody does. Waste of good people to represent any faith, and if they were really smart, they wouldn’t represent faith in the first place.

      No, this is misguided particularism, a perverted form of the “chosen people” fallacy. This kind of baloney is exactly what we have to expect from the ministers of a n y faith. Time to drop excised foreskins, aim the Gulliver fire extinguisher at the flaming bush, and cary on with humanity.

      • Doc
        Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:45 am | Permalink

        This foreskin issue keeps coming up as a way to point the finger at Jews. Let’s be clear: The foreskin is a remnant, unnecessary bit of tissue less helpful than the appendix. Just as the appendix can become inflammed and lead to surgery, the foreskin can, in the adult male, shrink and cause harm, also requiring surgery. Unlike the appendix, the foreskin can be removed without risk of peritonitis or potentially lethal adhesions. Now, here’s the real catch: Circumcision of an infant allows the still developing nervous system to compensate. Circumcision in the adult is far less likely. And, Islam requires circumcision at the age of 10 years. Were I a male, I would hope my parents would have me circumcised in infancy, so as not to worry about infections, cancer, or other problems, later on. I won’t miss it. Were it just as easy, I’d want the appendix out, too, but it’s not. I have, however, trained by performing the procedure in both. The adult required general anesthesia in one case, local in another, and while the infant stayed awake and barely noticed. Pricking his heel for a blood sample elicited more crying.
        I must add that to point the circumcision finger at Jews and not Muslims shows bias.
        Jerry, how about a separate blog for this subject? Perhaps it’s time to give it the airing out of scientific data, here?

        • Occam
          Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

          “Were I a male”

          The obvious implication is that you’re not. Correct ?
          Then you have no direct, subjective experience of what you’re talking about, right?

          I’m looking forward, with the uttermost equanimity, to a really evidence-based discussion of the subject.

          • Doc
            Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

            Sounds like you’ve never personally experienced or recall ever experiencing circumcision, either, though the implication is that you are male.
            My ex-husband filled me in. He was the adult local anesthetic case. In fact, as a scrub tech, he assisted on his own procedure, holding a clamp. It was done in the surgeon’s office, in a standard treatment room.
            I’ve seen more concern, pain, and psychologic trauma from ingrown toenails, for which there are various treatments, just for a bit of comparison.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

              I was circumcised in infancy, though I’m neither Jewish or Muslim. I’m an American born in California in 1959, a time and place where it was standard policy for all male babies.

              I can’t remember the operation, and I didn’t even know I was missing something until I was in my teens. So I don’t feel traumatized. I feel a little miffed that it was done without my consent, and also that I don’t really know whether I’m missing something in terms of tactile pleasure or not because of this modification to my body.

              I honestly don’t know what the scientific findings are for the health benefits of circumcision, or the risks of leaving the foreskin intact. I suspect that under modern hygienic conditions the risk of leaving the foreskin in place is much less than it was in the Bronze Age.

              But given the important role my penis plays in my life, I would like there to be much more concern about it than about my big toe, even if the toenail is more painful.

              Given that you seem to be a female Doc, how to you feel about female circumcision? Or do we now refer to it as mutilation when we change the gender of the subject?

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

                Female mutilation is refered to as such because it is designed to torture, subdue, and lead to painful intercourse, done during a young woman’s development into fertility. It bears no comparison to male circumcision. The closest parallel with men would be adult, unanesthetized castration done as terrifyingly as possible. You see, anatomically, the labia in females compares to the scrotal sac in males. You’ll want to mention the clitoris, and yes, that compares to the penis, so imagine, brutal cutting off of the penis and scrotum… That’s what makes female mutilation not just circumcision. True female circumcision would be cutting away the very tiny flap of skin which covers the clitoris, making it more available for stimulation, but leaving the clitoris in place and the labia untouched.

              • E.A. Blair
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

                There are plenty of sources that you can find with ask.com or other search engines that will bring up evidence that, in the US at least, male circumcision was not done primarily for religious reasons or for hygenic reasons – corcumcision advocates from the latter 19th century onword promoted it for one reason – to expose (and, presumably, therefore desensitize) the nerve endings of the glans to a) make sex less pleasurable and, more importantly, b) to make masturbation less pleasurable. A later reason given was to differentiate “real” Americans from those lowlife immigrants (at the time, coming largely from eastern and southern Europe – immigrant bigotry is not unique to the present day).No, I’m not going to post links. The information is out there, you have the same search engines I do, and I wish upon you the joy of discovery.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

                @ E. A. Blair, were any of those websites providing scientific data used as the basis for these claims? Or were baseless hypotheses being invented for political abuse?

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

                Here are some links…

                http://www.cirp.org/library/general/wallerstein/

                http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;103/3/686

                It appears that the science is not clear enough to justify a recommendation of circumcision for health reasons.

                Doc,
                Clearly the mutilation of young girls is more traumatic than male circumcision.

                But you might consider how you would feel if your clit had been unsheathed in your infancy, which seems the closes equivalent to male circumcision.

                I imagine this could cause discomfort because of the extreme sensitivity. Or perhaps this exposure could cause a de-sensitization over time that would diminish both discomfort from any routine contact with clothing or other objects, as well as the potential pleasure of sexual enjoyment.

                I have not been stopped from enjoying sex in my life, but I’ve heard rumors that the glans are de-sensitized after circumcision, which does give me cause to wonder what I may be missing.

                On the other hand, most claims for circumcision’s supposed health benefits, as we might expect from an ancient religious ritual, don’t seem to be firmly rooted in scientific evidence.

              • Microraptor
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

                None of the supposed health benefits for circumcision are common conditions to begin with, and in most cases the degree of difference is small enough to be well within the margin for error anyway.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                @Jeff Johnson, thank you for the links and your opinions. Through the National Libraries of Medicine site I found this January, 2010 article which states which diseases are diminished and to what degree, for the circumcised: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/164/1/104. There is an overview with this link and many more, here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/circumcision.html.
                The clitoris is not a tiny penis. It is a different organ of same embryonic origin. The best comparison I can offer is to suggest all the nerve endings of the penis being concentrated in the tiny clitoris. This makes a difference.
                Another difference is neural development. Amputate the limb of an adult and phantom limb pain is likely . Do it in the perinatal stage, i.e., constriction band syndrome, and it is not seen. We simply don’t pop out of the uterus all baked and done. Continued development affects healing at a very local level.
                I guess all can see, now, why I hoped this would be moved to a blog entry all its own. There is sure to be more discussion, and it needs an airing out.
                Bottom line for those who were circumcised, feel no known ill effect, yet hate that this was done to them: There is no law requiring circumcision. Your parents made your decision for you. Speak with them, too. Don’t just try to decide for other parents what they must or must not choose for their children.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

                @microraptor, Please notice how much more recent are the sources I linked vs. the others. My first, from 2010, lists common venereal diseases being of higher documented rate in the uncircumcised.
                The foreskin is a vestigial “organ.” One born with extra digits has those vestigial fin-bone remnants removed at birth, too.
                Perhaps someone can provide an equally recent article citing circumcision risks which exceed the benefits, based on data rather than presumption, so as to weigh risk vs. benefit.
                Polically and financially, any procedures can be profitable and the golden age of medicine is long gone. Medical cost cutting is what will lead to fewer circumcisions. In time, we’ll see if it also leads to a greater incidence of VD, cancer, and constricted foreskins requiring painful removal in the adult, when it could have been nearly painless in the infant.

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

                @Doc: “Bottom line for those who were circumcised, feel no known ill effect, yet hate that this was done to them: There is no law requiring circumcision. Your parents made your decision for you.”

                I don’t know of any ill effects. I suppose it’s a plus that I have never encountered smegma. It seems plausible that the sensitivity of the glans could be diminished, but I think it’s impossible to measure this. As you say, it could be that because it’s done in infancy, while development is still in full force, that there is no such sensitivity issue.

                Parents make these decisions without a lot of knowledge, and base them on what they hear from medical professionals. Parents have been given all kinds of misinformation about this over the centuries, it appears, so they can’t really be blamed for not knowing what to think. I think superstition is probably more blameworthy.

                This is why it is important to raise awareness and discuss this publicly.

                I tend to feel that everything that originates from religious tradition, particularly with respect to ritual whose origins are forgotten, is done for no reason other than that it has always been done that way, which is not a good reason at all.

                So I’m inclined to rebel when it appears something has been foisted upon us by the past based on primitive superstitions. I guess I dislike the practice of circumcision in the same way I dislike the burqa. It just feels like such a bluntly unnecessary inertia of times gone by.

                But I’m sure it’s easier to live without a foreskin than it is to walk through life under a burqa. Then again, it is the remarkable resilience and adaptability of humans that enables burqa wearers to become habituated. Hard to tell if that’s fortunate or not.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

                Found it: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) issue from October, 2011, has a commentary with factual references supporting circumcision over non, for male and male to female infaction risk lowering, including the lowering of cancer caused by sexually transmitted viruses. See citations for data.
                It states, for example, “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization adopted a policy advocating male circumcision in countries and regions with heterosexual HIV epidemics. In a cost-effectiveness analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, neonatal male circumcision in the United States was projected to increase quality-adjusted life-years and estimated to be cost-saving due to reduced HIV infections and subsequent treatment costs.”

                http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/13/1479.long

              • Microraptor
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

                Seen that article before, wasn’t impressed by it. The problem is that there’s too many other factors that can play an influence in contraction of STDs that aren’t being controlled for, like the level sex education of the person, condom use, or the number of sexual partners a person has.

                When you’ve got two groups of men, one of which is circumcised and also more likely to be better educated, engage in less risky sexual behaviors, and have better access to medical screening and treatments compared to the uncircumcised group, saying that circumcision is the relevant factor is premature at best.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

                @Jeff Johnson, just be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. (LOL — Couldn’t resist the pun!) I, too, am wary of anything handed down without factual basis. Willow bark tea as a treatment for headaches, started the same and, with scientific inquiry, led to the discovery of aspirin. What a shame it would have been to discount that without research!
                All the best,
                Doc

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted November 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

              @Doc: “Willow bark tea as a treatment for headaches, started the same and, with scientific inquiry, led to the discovery of aspirin.”

              Good point. I understand the danger of being dogmatically anti-dogmatic.

              And only a very small portion of this baby was thrown out with the bio-waste bin. I’ve done allright despite having been defiled at such an innocent age.

              Mazel tov to smegma free existence!

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

                Oy! I like it!!!

            • Occam
              Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

              Dear Doc:
              Reading the continued exchange on matters preputial was an experience almost as delightful as having that modest but ungodly vestigial fold amputated with a dull, rusty razor blade.

              I sincerely hope — nay, I trust — that your undoubted professional medical skills are incomparably superior to your inferential ones.
              Should our genial host ever decide to delve, if that’s the word, into this subject and prompt a serious, evidence-based debate, I’m looking forward to it, as I said, with an even measure of composure and equanimity.

              And now prithee excuse me: the weekly appointment with my mohel is up. A light trim will do.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

                Apparently, you find snarky antisemitism rather humorous. Ad hominum attacks, as well. And thus do you bring down the average among atheists who decry bias and look for evidence and trends based on real data. Sad, but I’m sure the rest of us will continue onward, just the same.

              • Occam
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                Dear Doc:
                I have suffered antisemitism. Being frivolously accused of the same is a novel experience, but it takes all kinds. More Godwin proxy points to you. Ad hominem attacks? Not with a lady, I wouldn’t. As to what I find humorous or not, your inferential skills definitely require a modicum of honing. But, as you say, I’m sure you will continue onward, just the same. Undaunted, relentless. Godspeed to you.

                Una finis, diversae viae.

        • Posted November 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          ‘Let’s be clear: The foreskin is a remnant, unnecessary bit of tissue less helpful than the appendix. ‘

          SO a god must have designed it!

          Who would have thought that theists think you should take a knife to god’s creation and remove the unnecessary bits that he designed?

          • Doc
            Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

            Ancient Jewish law also required hand washing, and bathing,too, for that matter, long before Dr. Semmelweis recognized the connection between handwashing and birhmother survival (i.e., lack of lethal infection following delivery). Lister, microscopes, visualization of unicellular organisms, and germ theory all came over a thousand years later than Jewish law. Perhaps Jews were scientists before science was a recognized focus of study. There certainly are many Jewish scientists and Jewish physician-researchers, today, much greater in proportion than Jews in the general population.
            Culture and religion don’t have to go hand in hand — at least, not when it comes to Jews. Our adaptability is no doubt key to our survival and evolution.

            • Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

              Here are some more of those Jewish regulations for dealing with disease.

              This one involves poultry, and is an example of how perhaps Jews were scientists before science was discovered.

              Either that or they attributed these bizarre rituals to their god.

              Leviticus 14
              The LORD said to Moses, 2 “These are the regulations for any diseased person at the time of their ceremonial cleansing, when they are brought to the priest: 3 The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, 4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. 5 Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. 6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the defiling disease, and then pronounce them clean. After that, he is to release the live bird in the open fields.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

                It was the bronze age, after all. When did Christianity and Islam decide bathing was important for everyone, not just the priests and mullahs?
                I understand many want to be fair to all, so Judaism and Christianity and Islam are treated as equals in historical badness. We know the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust happened, but what of the genocides commanded by God in the Torah? Well, if the stories are all myths, then those genocides didn’t happen, and writing them in a book was tantamount to saying, “Hey, we may look puny, but don’t mess with us, cuz our god is bigger than your god!” I’d call that a peaceful prevention of conflict through negotiation in the form of braggadocio. A lot of big talk, in other words.

              • Microraptor
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

                And this has what to do with the quality of medical advice from the Torah?

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

                Did someone ask for quality of medical advice from the Torah? Oh! I thought he just wanted quality medical advice. Better ask a rabbi for mythological things.

            • Demot C
              Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

              Doc:

              Are there any passages in the Torah you would recommend for the treatment of the cyst on my kidney?

              If not, which nationality doctor should I consult?

              I assume, given your observation of the preponderance of Jews in the area of medical research, that you are American; over here in England we have a lot of doctors from the Indian sub-continent who have “adapted”, in your phrase, excellently to British conditions. Will they do, in the absence of Jewish doctors?

              I await your professional advice with interest.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

                Glad you asked! First, consult the latest literature to see who is doing research and has special interest. Then, go to the internet to see if others with renal cysts have noted any particularly good or bad doctors to deal with it. If you think you may require surgery, find and befriend a nurse, and have the nurse phone the local hospital’s OR supervisor, to ask which surgeon has the lowest post op infection rate and surgical revision rate and such. Then, flip a coin and take your best shot. If the doctor you choose happens to be an Indian Jew who no longer believes in any gods, you hit the jack pot!

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

                P.S. Especially if she turns out to be very pretty and, like me, very meticulous in her care of patients.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

                Firstly, apologies for this post being in the wrong place in reply to Doc’s medical advice to me, but my “reply” link is missing from her 2 latest responses to me.

                “…flip a coin and take your best shot.”

                “…like me, very meticulous in her care of patients.”

                Aaah, now I see. I’m really not sure I would like to consult with a doctor who told me this; it seems beyond rather lacking in bedside manner.

                We British always underestimate the American mastery of irony, and you’re great at it, The Simpsons, Seinfeld etc.

                I’m beginning to think you’re not really an M.D. at all; I must be wrong.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

                I am not at your bedside, but if I were, you’d have made your choice, then. Dcotors are human. Some are good. Some just talk a good story so their colleagues send referrals. Even a good doctor can have a bad day, try as we might for professional consistency.
                Surgeons, as a rule, don’t watch each other in the OR. We take care of our own patients and get back to the office for more work. The OR supervisor, however, keeps stats, hears from circulators and scrub techs dealing directly with surgeons, and oversees scheduling, organizing instrumentation and supply acauision, etc. Surgerons come to the supervisor, when they have a gripe. So, the supervisor is the one person of all the OR staff who best knows all the surgeons, their stats and their personal quirks. I approached one, once, to ask who was the slowest at breast biopsy. In this way, I found the most meticulous, and that surgeon, being so meticulous, reviewed the suspicious xrays and decided — quite rightly, in retrospect — that biopsy was not needed. A couple of her colleagues would have found it an excuse to raise their surgical numbers. I know, because I worked out of the surgical office across the hall.
                And yes, I am a surgeon.

              • Doc
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

                Please pardon the typos…

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

                It would be instructive if you answered my original question, as Microraptor pointed out:

                Are there any passages in the Torah you would recommend for the treatment of the cyst on my kidney?

                We both know that this is not a thread about medical advice; it is a discussion about the relevance of the Pentateuch to modern medical practice. Further, it is about your apparent belief that the Israelies, not the Jews,had some sort of atavisitc understanding of the behaviour of micro-organisms during the Bronze Age.

                If they did, would you not also agree that the Ancient Chinese understood the need for personal cleanliness as well as the desirability to wash their hair? Would you ascribe their practices to some sort of proto-scientific method?

                Or would it just be simpler to say that both peoples fetishised cleanliness? Would it not be also more reasonable to assume that humans prefer cleanliness to dirtiness if they have the opportunity?

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

                “…Israelites…”

  47. Julien Rousseau
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I may not be willing to sell my parent’s remain (when they die) as dog food but I would have no problem giving them away as worm food like many people do.

    PS: When I hear the name Rabbi Jacob this is what I think of.

    Seems like all the assassins after him have scrambled poor Rabbi Jacob’s brains.

  48. truthspeaker
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Last night, a friend of mine brought someone new to Friday Night Magic. I shared my whiskey with him. There, I made a difference in someone’s life.

    Now what’s supposed to vex me?

  49. truthspeaker
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    you necessaril­y concede that human emotion and experience are intrinsica­lly meaningles­s

    No shit, Sherlock. Is this supposed to be a gotcha question? Everything is intrinsically meaningless. Meaning only makes sense from a human perspective. “Intrinsic meaning” is as nonsensical a concept as “intrinsic value”. What’s the value of a hot dog? Whatever a human being will pay for it.

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      You remind me of my favorite quote about gold, from Warren Buffet. People seem to think gold has intrinsic value. Buffet gets it though:

      “Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”

      It’s just another clump of atoms, until a human being assigns value to it, either aesthetically or economically or technologically.

      • eNeMeE
        Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

        technologically

        There’s the intrinsic value for you; it’s a damn fine conductor!

  50. truthspeaker
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    OK, I get it. The rabbi is the old man in Nietzche’s story, freaking out because he just now figured out that human life is has no inherent meaning, and our notions of justice, love, compassion, virtue, and grandeur only make sense from a human perspective.

    And he can’t figure out why the rest of us aren’t freaking out as well.

  51. Kharamatha
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    1. Food for ashes? Hell yes.

    2. Not much. Why bother, though?

    3. No. Sounds like voodoo bullshit.

  52. Eric
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    This is several times that Jerry seems particularly miffed by jewish irrational belief. I have yet to understand the difference between “irrational belief” and “jewish irrational belief”.

  53. Doc
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Speaking for myself, a Jewish atheist, it is all the more poignant and disconcerting when members of my subgroup of the general population, a subgroup particularly raised in such critical reasoning games as “stump the rabbi”, (that subgroup being Jews, of course)show lack of critical reasoning by supporting old myths. It’s a matter of cultural connection, something akin to family.

  54. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    @ E. A. Blair, were any of those websites providing scientific data used as the basis for these claims? Or were baseless hypotheses being invented for political abuse?

    I already said, “No, I’m not going to post links. The information is out there, you have the same search engines I do, and I wish upon you the joy of discovery.” I went through looking all that stuff up a couple of years ago. I will say two things, however:

    1: I didn’t say those claims were scientifically and medically valid. My opinion is that they were made on the basis of moralistic and bigoted grounds.

    2: if you’re too damned lazy to do a simple search on past motivations for circumcision, you’re not worth replying to.

  55. Barry Tilles
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Hello
    To the good Rebbe and the chorus of non-believers:
    Q1. As Felix Unger said “”Pup” spelled backwards is still “pup.” But “dog?” I suggest you think about THAT.”
    Q2. See Robert Service’s song-poem re forgiveness “The Ballad of One-Eyed Mikehttp”,://explorenorth.com/library/service/bl-cheechako8.htm (or better, Hank Snow’s wonderful rendering: http://www.archive.org/details/HankSnow-01-40)
    Q3. um…umm..I can’t..oops (but I do love a guy who uses the word “weltanschauung”)

    Kidding aside, these “On Religion” columns in major publications, such as HuffPo, WSJ, Boston Globe, are best skipped over. They are always useful, though, to illustrate what Burroughs called “the technology of negative writing” where the writer uses words not to clarify or communicate an idea, but to confuse the reader or obfuscate an issue, which is the exact opposite of what a writer should do. It is more simply known as doubletalk. For example, in a less highfalutin’,less weaselly, less pussyfooting way, the old Garner Ted Armstrong radio broadcasts.

    Now so long as the writer deems to dip into the readers’ sub-conscious, I would turn the tables on him and proffer the converse: there are no believers, except among the deeply mentally ill. That is, deep down, in the little rational heart of hearts that comprise the conscious mind of even the most zealous sectarian, there is a voice of reason that knows the house of religious cards is a crock: a mealy stew of contradictions, pretentious notions, and superstitious gas.

    There’s a bit of defensiveness about his whole article that reminds me of The Cowardly Lion: “I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do – I do – I do – I do” Well bully for you. Moreover, it’s childish, like a 5th grader who tries to get his buddy to say “I’m a fag”. Hahaha, gotcha.

    Anyway, he could have just written “there are no atheists in foxholes”. Done. Or as a wise man once said regarding belief in Voodoo: “you never know”. But that would have been a straightforward bit, instead of the tricky, oily, prose that comprised this piece.

    I’ll just repeat what I said before regarding accommodationism:
    Religion is mental illness. At its very best, it is a defect in thinking. From there it runs the scale from neurotic tic through obsessive fetish all the way to full-blown psychotic religiosit­y. Everybody knows what I mean. If folks get insulted and defensive that is part of their sickness, or they feel sad because of what seems like personal attack on their moms and dads. We must try very hard to shatter religious people’s world-view­, however cherished. Bayesian analysis notwithsta­nding (statistic­s favor majority beliefs), I think that the religion/m­ental illness link should be hammered home to embarrass and shame those who profess to have “faith”. Deep down, sane, educated people don’t buy theologica­l crap, they simply need to feel approval to say so, even to themselves­.

  56. Kevin
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    1. I would have no problem giving my parents ‘green’ burial (which is what I plan for myself). My body will provide fertilizer for a living thing (a tree). If that tree is then used as food for some other creature, which is then used as food for some other creature…and one of those creatures happens to be a dog, who am I to object. So, rabbi. The answer to the first question is “yes”. It would probably be a sign of disrespect if I just dumped their corpses off to the local pound for the denizens to feed off of, but we’re talking a matter of degree.

    2. I wouldn’t waste one second either trying to reconcile or exact revenge on a rival in such a situation. Why in the world would anyone focus their last minutes of live on something as meaningless? So, the answer is “neither”.

    3. Is this supposed to be multiple choice question? Seriously, it’s a mind-numbingly idiotic question.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted November 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I guess what the rabbi is getting at is, why pay respect to the remains at all if ultimately such respect has no intrinsic significance?

      My response is, what does one have to do with the other? A dead human body doesn’t have any intrinsic significance, but it sure as hell has some significance to the people who knew and cared about it when it was alive. Isn’t that enough reason to treat human remains with respect?

      Regarding the desert island, the person I hate, and the coming tsunami – sure, I would probably behave differently in a situation where nobody would ever know what I did than in a normal situation where other people will respond to my actions. When other people aren’t around to hold us accountable, we’re only accountable to ourselves. Do people who think they’re accountable to a god behave with more restraint than people who think they’re only accountable to themselves and others? I suppose it’s possible, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case to me.

      Regarding the questions, “Is love, art, beauty or morality intrinsically significant?”

      No. Why would you expect them to be?

      If the sun sets over a lake, and nobody is there to see it, is it still beautiful? No, because nobody is there to have an emotional response to it.

  57. Diane G.
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    @ Doc

    The foreskin is a vestigial “organ.”

    . . . when it could have been nearly painless in the infant.

    You keep making those assertions. Support them, and not with anecdote.

    Foreskins make intercoure more comfortable. Also, my anecdote (which I can use, since I’m not the one making blanket assertions) is that my baby screamed in pain and terror and was distressed for days after his circumcism.

    • Doc
      Posted November 14, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      They why ever did you torture him so? No one twisted your arm, threatened to jail you, or otherwise coerced you into mutilating your own son. What sort of mother are you? You’ve the intelligence to find and write into the website, so you cannot claim ignorance.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        That’s what I call supporting your assertions.

    • Doc
      Posted November 14, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      As for whether or not the foreskin is vestigial, instead of arguing with me, why not simply ask the source of this blog, Dr. Coyne? After all, he is a world reknown evolutionary biologist, publicly recognized by none other than Richard Dawkins, himself? Let’s put it to him.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        If Jerry wanted to respond to this issue, he would have done so by now. Your attempt to flag him down in the boot thread is unnecessary and inappropriate. If you want to communicate with him directly, his email address is not hard to find.

        I suggest you set up your own blog to discuss this issue if you feel that strongly about it. But hijacking multiple threads on someone else’s website in order to ride your own personal hobbyhorse, and then demanding a response from your host, is not cool.

        • Doc
          Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          So you read Jerry’s mind, answer for him, and defend him as though he cannot speak for himself on his own blog. How can you be certain that is what Jerry would want? Where is your proof?

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

            I’m not making any claims to certainy or psychic powers. I’m just asking you to please confine your threadjacking to this one thread, rather than chasing Jerry from thread to thread seeking his opinion on an issue that he has thus far shown no interest in.

            • Doc
              Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

              I previously attempted to find his email address and failed. Perhaps you would like to provide it. It appears he starts threads but doesn’t necessarily follow them. In particular, the longer the thread, the less likely it will be followed, so since he is the expert, and his opinion would be most valuable, I did the logical thing, trying to reach him. That someone has responded on the one (not many, as you so generously asserted, earlier) thread I tried suggests that one also has interest and was not aware of this thread. He could have come here to respond, but since he didn’t, I am interacting with him there. This is all to logical to bear explaining, but you leave me little choice.

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          I so agree.

          Not to mention that this topic has been beaten to death so many times on so many sites.

      • OttawaAnon
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Who knew that all I had to do to lower my risk of an infected foreskin was to cut it off. Well I’d have to avoid the 5% chance of getting an infection in hospital and the 1:350 chance that I get an infection AND die. But the benefits must be great right? I mean if I chop it off I’ll lower my risk of foreskin cancer to near zero!

        With that type of logic why don’t we offer mastectomies for little girls to help prevent breast cancer … after all if you remove them when they are young it’s no harm no foul right Doc?

        As to the studies done mostly in Africa that show a decreased risk of STDs they all ended early. The three RCT funded by the NIH ended early, potentially magnifying the effects of the enforced abstinence on the circumcised group. Also the numbers from the US seem to run counter to the notion that circumcision protects against HIV seeing as the US has the highest rate of HIV infection AND male circumcision in the industrialized world.

        • Doc
          Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          However did you find the imagination to invent that response? Of ocurse, the studies investigate infection of the individual and his sex partner, not his foreskin, and the cancer concern applies to the shaft of the penis — again, not the foreskin.
          If you could nurse a newborn, delivering immunity as well as nutriests, with your foreskin, then you might find some comparison with breasts.
          All the same, women’s excitement over photos of foreskins will never, in a million years, compare with men’s excitement over photos of breasts.
          In short, your argument is worthless, except as an attempt at humorous interlude.

  58. Dominic
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    But I am not of the Chosen People…

  59. Doc
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    It has been proposed, above, that (adolescent) female genital mutilation is equivalent to (infant) male circumcision.

    Embryologic study proves the tissues which develop into penis in the male develop into the clitoris in the female, much smaller and so with a much more concentrated number of nerve endings.

    The female’s labia correspond to the male’s scrotal sack.

    Ovaries, of course, correspond to testicles.

    Therefore, female genital mutilation, with excision of the clitoris and slicing of or slicing off the labia would correspond to amputation of the penis with slicing of or skinning off the scrotal sack, all the while leaving ovaries/testicles untouched.

    This article, http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/13/1479.full.pdf+html, published only last month in a reputable journal, supports the benefit over risk of circumcision in all ages, though moreso in infacts.

    There is no scientific support for female genital mutilation, only against.

    Therefore, comparing the two as equals only demonstrates dogmatic ignorance.


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