Saturday, October 30, 2010

Answers by Baruch Pelta

E-man notes that Dovid isn't "confined to believe that the world is only 5771 years old," but I never said in this debate that Dovid was confined as such. The remark Dovid took issue with was my statement that in his view, the opinions of various gedolim and the stated opinion of Rabbi Gottlieb in Young Earth Creationism must be normative. Obviously, Dovid does have to consider Young Earth Creationism to be a Torah True opinion (as it is the opinion of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rabbi Gottlieb, and many others) which is justifiable. That was what I wrote in the quote he takes issue with and he has nowhere contradicted it here. Dovid has in his writings consistently dodged the question of whether he himself believes in Young Earth Creationism, but contra his own assertions, he actually slipped up and adopted Young Earth Creationism in an opinion piece he wrote in the Bnei Brak Yated Ne'eman newspaper (and later reprinted on one of his blogs):
...mainstream scientists don't really accept the burden of proving the young earth evidence to be grossly misunderstood. They feel that it is enough to propose theoretical possibilities...We don't need to assume the burden to disprove the old earth science. If we use the same approach, it is sufficient for us to assert, based on Chazal, that star motion was not constant throughout all time, and that the igneous rocks of the Creation period simply did not form naturally from magma. And/or, it is sufficient to assert, based on Chazal, that the weather conditions which form the annual layering of lake varves and ice cores were not constant throughout all time...We ought to have enough confidence in our mulit-million-man- mesorah to offset all the theoretical evidence that relies exclusively on tenuous extrapolations of literally astronomical proportions.

As for the remark that gays should commit suicide, I must heartily agree with E-man and note that I am happy Dovid has here retracted it. Dovid writes that it was "clear" that he meant it only theoretically and I have little doubt that he did mean to write it as a theoretical recommendation (whatever that means), but what he clearly wrote is that suicide is a pragmatic option and just about all of the commentary I saw from readers generally converged on that point (see the posts and comments at those links). After all, why else would Dovid have written the following?

Let me repeat: if any therapy will allow the Orthodox homosexual to survive his existence without succumbing to temptation, then this suicide option simply does not apply. This option is only for someone who knows his strengths and weaknesses and is afraid that he may G-d forbid stumble and violate one of the most severe Torah prohibitions.

(The fact that Dovid apparently doesn't recognize the assertions his own writings make and thus how they will be read only confirms my assertion that he is dangerous). Contra Dovid's own assertion, he did not actually retract this assertion in the follow-up piece he wrote the following year. He only retracted his belief that it is a "universally sanctioned" option. But I already noted that in my rebuttal.

To answer the final part of E-man's query, no, I will not be offering Dovid another opportunity to debate me.

Thanks to Dovid for participating in this debate. But a heartfelt thank you to you, dear readers, for your careful consideration of the arguments. Remember, I can be reached at .