I changed my mind and decided not to meticulously dissect that old Wall Street Journal article I put up the other day. Instead, I'm just going to jot down a post about it:
I could understand how, in 1996, people might have leaped at the chance to use the Torah Codes as a proof for Torah miSinai. After all, here you had an article in a respected peer-reviewed journal -- Statistical Science -- promoting the Torah Codes as legitimate. You had the head of that journal, a respected statistician, admitting that he was baffled. Of course, it would have been more prudent to wait a few years to see if these codes would be refuted before hastily adopting them. The Codes also were theologically problematic for a number of reasons: How could God put in Codes warning us of things like the Holocaust and all of the gedolim miss out on it? Why were these Codes not in the traditional method of lernin? But we all know that in a Talmudic world, apologetics are amorphous. Surely there was some explanation of those problems. The important thing was that a respected academic journal had printed proof of the Torah.
But see, then there was a slight problem. The Codes were refuted pretty completely and convincingly. Barry Simon, venerable mathematical physicist and a frummer yid -- beard, hat, and all -- spurned the Codes. The editor of Statistical Science who had in his introduction to the Codes article referred to the findings as puzzling, now declared that it "appears...that the puzzle has been solved."
Unfortunately, Aish still uses the Codes as proof for the divinity of the Torah. They've decided not to let those pesky dissenting statistics and math people (and by "dissenting," I mean "almost anybody who knows anything about the issue") get in the way. I've made it clear here that I don't believe in God and I think theists are generally confused, not malicious or intentionally dishonest (and I'm sure many think the same of me). But it takes a special kind of organization to actually lure people in through presenting their proofs as "obvious" even by academic standards, when even kannaim laugh at the Codes.
In the Wall Street Journal article, we were given the following quote, meant to inspire:
"I walked in a secular atheist and walked out believing that the Torah had been handed down by G-d to Moses on Mt. Sinai," says Ms. [Deborah] Grayson, a 24 year old graduate student of Social Work at Columbia University.
For those who might recognize the name, Deborah Grayson is now Deborah Grayson Riegel, the leadership coach who writes a regular column in The Jewish Week. I must admit that I'm unfamiliar with her columns and her worldview today; for all I know, she herself now spurns the proofs given at Aish's Discovery lecture. I have little idea as to what her current worldview is and I wish her the best. But her quote from 14 years ago in the Journal sums up well what my problem with the seminar is. Aish wants people to walk out "believing" and some people themselves walk in ready to believe. But this is clearly a seminar given by people with an agenda. If a person finds an agenda-driven seminar to have a convincing ring, they shouldn't walk out convinced of anything, except that they ought to do research on the claims they were just told, instead of taking them (prima facie) as fact.