Thursday, May 26, 2011

Denying the Dinosaur Eras

Two days ago, I began a critique of Rabbi Moshe Meiselman's article in Dialogue regarding the age of the universe. In part one, I pointed out that he blurred the distinction between the age of the universe and its creation - thereby enabling him to claim that those who accept the antiquity of the universe are acting unacceptably in departing from the mesorah on a fundamental of faith. In part two, I showed how his approach to this topic, in which science cannot possibly measure the age of the universe since the laws of nature as know them did not exist during creation, results in the concept of "six days" being utterly meaningless. Today, I will begin a two-pronged explanation of why Meiselman's theory does not even work from a scientific perspective. (Please note that I am departing from my usual practice and instead adopting Meiselman's protocol of referring to older rabbis by their last name alone.)

Before doing so, however, there is one point that I am forced to address. I have heard a popular and entertaining rabbi claim in a public lecture that I am unqualified to dispute Meiselman's science, since he has a PhD in physics from MIT whereas I lack any formal scientific qualifications beyond high school. And Meiselman himself told a mentor of mine that, unlike himself, I lack the scientific competence necessary to discuss these matters.

Now, aside from the fact that scientific theories are evaluated by their content rather than by the qualifications of those presenting them, it simply isn't true that Meiselman has qualifications in this area. Contrary to that which is claimed about him, his doctorate is in mathematics, not physics. Mathematics is not part of the natural sciences. In fact, my father, of blessed memory, who had not only a PhD in physics but also a DSc (higher doctorate, awarded for work resulting in international distinction), and who was described by Prof. Cyril Domb as possessing exceptional breadth in different scientific disciples, and who necessarily mastered mathematics to a very high level, used to tell me that devotion to pure mathematics can actually be a deficiency in a person making a statement about the natural sciences. The reason for this is that mathematics accustoms one to thinking in abstract, imaginary frameworks that are divorced from the real world. (Perhaps this is similar to Brisker lomdus not being helpful in paskening halachah?) As we shall see today and tomorrow, Meiselman's theory is very much divorced from reality. And it goes without saying that the global community of scientists would dismiss his approach as sheer nonsense. In fact, I heard about a former colleague of Meiselman's from MIT, who is every bit as charedi as him but whose doctorate was in physics, who was furious at the incompetence of Meiselman's article.

Of course, I don't have any qualifications in the natural sciences either. But I have studied them in my spare time for many years. More significantly, what I say on this topic is agreed upon by the global community of paleontologists, geologists, physicists, and everyone else in these fields. You won't find them dismissing what I write as nonsense. Furthermore, my arguments can be evaluated on their own merits. If you're not qualified to do so, I suggest that you consult with someone who is qualified.

Let us quote Meiselman's theory once more:

One of the main points of this article will be that all current tools for measuring the passage of time presume stability in the relationships between natural processes, similar to what we observe today. In fact, our entire outlook on time reflects this presumption... The presumption of stability in the oscillations of the cesium atom underlies all notions of time measurement today, as well as their projection into other epochs.

This paragraph gives the impression that the scientific assessment of the universe being billions of years old are all based on the oscillations of the cesium atom. And most people are not very familiar with cesium atoms, which we can't even see, so he can get away with saying that cesium atoms used to act differently.

But what about the dinosaurs? And the therapsids? And the woolly mammoths?

Forget abstract talk about events taking place on a molecular level. Think about something tangible and familiar, such as animal life. The fossil evidence clearly shows that there were dinosaurs and all kinds of other creatures which lived before people (since no fossils of contemporary creatures are found in the same strata). These animals lived and died and fought and ate and bred - we even find dinosaur nesting sites. Did all that happen in the space of twelve hours? Did it happen in a universe in which the laws of gravity, the speed of light, and everything else - the very fabric of natural law - was drastically different from what we see today?

And it's not as though there was only one period of prehistoric creatures. The fossil record shows beyond doubt that there were numerous distinct periods. The therapsids lived before the dinosaurs; the dinosaurs lived before the mammoths. And even amongst dinosaurs, different layers of rock reveal distinct eras. Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Allosaurus are never found in the same layers of rock as Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, and Velociraptor. The conclusion is that each existed in a different period; the former lived in a period which has been termed the Jurassic, while the latter lived in the Cretaceous period. This is not part of some evil conspiracy by scientists, nor the result of mistakes on their part. Any paleontologist could win instant fame by finding a Tyrannosaur Rex fossil in Jurassic rocks - but nobody has ever done so, which shows that T-Rex lived much later, in the Cretaceous.

So there are countless generations of all kinds of animals, living in distinct periods, leading ordinary animal lives. This is clearly a process that takes many thousands, even millions of years. To describe it as all occurring in one day is simply ridiculous, unless one is taking the word "day" to mean something other than "day."

I was going to be dan le'kaf zechus (after a fashion) and assume that Meiselman simply never even gave any thought to any of this. After all, he's a mathematician, not a scientist. But then I noticed that he does seem to address it. This is in the context of his explaining that aside from it being impossible to use science to date creation, when there were no laws of nature as we know them, the Mabul also prevents any historical analysis from taking place:

...Although it is possible that prior to the Mabul the world was subject to the same system of natural laws as afterwards, the details of the world may have been very different. We view a world reconstructed from chaos. The laws of physics and chemistry may be the same, but features such as weather patterns and the natural characteristics of the flora and fauna may be radically different from what they once were.

In a footnote, he adds the following:
Note also the change in animal behavior indicated by Bereyshis 9:5; cf. the Ramban’s discussion thereon.

BereIshis 9:5, which speaks about God holding animals accountable for killing humans, doesn't really indicate anything remotely definitive, but Ramban suggests that it might mean that before the Mabul, animals were all herbivores. That might have been a reasonable suggestion in Ramban's time, but it's simply laughable to propose it seriously today. Is Meiselman claiming that Tyrannosaurus rex, veloceraptor, and saber-toothed cats all ate grass and leaves?! Aside from the fact that their physiology clearly shows that they were carnivores, we actually have fossilized remnants of their stomach contents and excrement, which show that they were carnivores - as well as a famous fossil of two dinosaurs that died locked in combat.

Contrary to Meiselman's claim, we know that the natural characteristics of the flora and fauna of prehistory were not radically different from today. We know a tremendous amount about them. We know what they ate and how they reproduced. We even have whole mammoths, frozen in ice, from which DNA has been extracted and sequenced - and it shows (unsurprisingly) that they are not too different from elephants. Their basic bodily processes functioned in the same way as that of modern animals. They lived in a world that was fundamentally the same as ours - not some bizarre scenario in which the very laws of nature were different, and in which complete lifecycles occurred in a nanosecond.

There are no indications that animal and plant life used to be fundamentally different. There is, however, an overwhelming mass of evidence that animal and plant life used to be fundamentally the same. And that there were countless generations of it. To denounce the claim of the world's antiquity as being mere "conjecture" predicated upon baseless assumptions, is arrogant nonsense.

48 comments:

  1. Like R. Meiselman et. al., I am a fond of reading Bereshit literally. When I do, I find that the world is flat and floats on water. Above it is a canopy into which stars are embedded. Darkness is a physical entity, not the absence of light. Daylight exists independently of the sun. etc… And, this snow-globe-like world is assembled from a pre-existing chaotic state.

    Now, I understand that ad-hoc interpretations with varying degrees of plausibility, have been offered for the above: the Rambam and R. Hirsch on creation ex nihilo; ohr letzadikim – whatever that is; and so on. Would it not be preferable, R. Slifkin, to seek one comprehensive explanation of why God would choose to present a picture of the universe and its creation consistent with the erroneous world view of ancient man? Isn’t that preferable to offering another ad hoc explanation for the six days of creation?

    That being said, exposing the embarrassing arguments of R. Meiselman et. al. is laudable and necessary to preserve the kavod of Torah.

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  2. I am unqualified to dispute Meiselman's science, since he has a PhD in physics from MIT

    So if there's a debate as to how much force is produced when a 6-ton T-Rex comes charging at you at 14 m/s, I'm prepared to side with the good doctor!

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  3. Jack, I take it that you haven't read The Challenge Of Creation. I recommend it!

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  4. I think the worst travesty is that frum people can be granted a PhD and then go on to make claims outside his field as an authority simply because he has a PhD. This model of thought stems from their conception of Daas Torah, which they have now applied to secular degrees. They don't realize that just as someone with Smicha in kashrus could not compete with Smicha in Choshen Mishpat, a PhD in Math or Physics cannot compete with a PhD in Biology, Geology, and Chemistry. If he were to submit his ideas to any legitimate journal they would not even entertain the notions for a moment, and he would claim "atheistic bias" rather than accept there is anything wrong with his argument.

    In reality, he is at best much more of an amateur than R' Slifkin. How much time has he spent researching and reading these ideas? Probably near nil as his only purpose is to prove what he already "knows." He has spent many hours reading old refutations that themselves have been refuted and then trying to reword them to sound more convincing rather than inspecting the evidence.

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  5. Ten Jew Very MuchMay 26, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    וְאֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ

    It's a case of Gosse redux--a man respected for his expertise in one field goes chasing after the desire to "prove" the truth of a literal reading of Bereshit.

    Some older men become infatuated with a young woman, others with a young Earth.

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  6. Rabbi Slifkin -- I think you are arguing somewhat circular. Or at least not arguing with Rabbi Meiselman on his terms.

    You successfully show that taking all scientific knowledge from various field conclusively show that Rabbi Meiselman's theory simply cannot work. Agreed.

    What he is doing is basically saying -- grant me (at least) one point in Torah on my terms, on the terms of the simple reading of the Torah as understood traditionally. Science says that a Universal (or even close to universal) flood never took place. Grant me the traditioanl Torah view that it did. Yes, on faith (or Tradition).

    And/or grant me that during the six days of creation the laws of nature developed over "days" as the Torah seems to indicate.

    His point is that once you grant any one of these points -- many other questions dissapear.

    Maybe he is not admitting that this is what he is doing (although he may be) -- but it is. And if he is not, then this is what many others are doing.

    And as far as I can see there is nothing logically inconsistant about it.

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  7. That is indeed what he is doing. However, it is simply not the case that once one grants these points, the other questions disappear. Rather, the other questions remain. This shows that his points should not in fact be granted.

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  8. I agree with SF2K01. Having a PhD is not a guarantee of universal expertise in any field. My PhD in organic chemistry doesn't make me an authority in other branches of chemistry, let alone in biology or physics.

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  9. Hashem put all the 'dinosaur' bones into the ground to test our emunah. Arbah avos nezikin -- they are mazik our emunah. Shor v' ha bor v' ha maveh: Shor (dinosaur) found in a bor and explained by scientists (maveh) = heveer - the fire of Gehinom.

    (Just kidding.)

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  10. Why not begin with something much more simple. Human civilization is clearly older than 6000 years. How does he account for that?

    Also does Meiselman assume that human beings played with their pet dinosaurs?

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  11. "Nishtana Ha-tevah". That is exactly what R. Meiselman is suggesting as a way of resolving problems. It is not shocking to see such a solution offered. After all, entire halachic viewpoints are predicated that olives today have shrunk from almost half of what they were only 1500 years ago. I mean to say, if you can believe that, you can believe anything.

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  12. Shrinking olives is way, way less absurd than herbivorous T-Rexes and dinosaur generations lasting nanoseconds.

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  13. Rabbi Slifkin -- okay so I am understanding both Rabbi Meiselman and yourself correctly.

    But if so -- you are not speaking to each other. And your posts, while conclusively proving that his position simply cannot fit with science (which you could and should point out), and not responding to him. There are responding to others who might want to agree with his position. But he is being logically consistant.

    And I don't see what is wrong with his position. It is not "rationalist Judaism" -- but why are you saying that it is illogical for his "points to be granted?" Is there no place for a position that says -- "Torah and Science cannot be reconciled. When the two collide I choose the traditional understanding of Torah. But understand that once you take Torah on it's own terms many of your questions are not relevant."

    All you are doing is making science as the sole arbiter -- which you obviously are entitled to do. But there is nothing wrong or illogical with what he is trying to do.

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  14. Just a small nitpick -

    Dying while locked in combat really doesn't prove they were carnivores. Herbivores fight also - think of those deers you see headbutting each other.

    Otherwise a good read :)

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  15. Yitzi, if someone says that they are going to follow the simple pshat of Torah, and that they don't care what other sources of knowledge say or what the physical evidence shows, then I have nothing to say to them. But Meiselman is claiming that his theory is harmonious with the physical facts. And this post shows that this is not true.

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  16. Creationists believe that humans and dinosaurs (and everything in between) did indeed live on earth at the same time. To quote R. Simcha Coffer, responding to how he can believe that dinos and humans cohabited:

    What you must understand is that permineralization (that’s a fancy word for fossilization) is a relatively “rare” event. Scientists have currently identified over 2 million species and yet the geological record only yields 10% of that. There is no reason to expect that the stratigraphic record would capture all cohabitations. In order for your question to even possess any relevance, you would first need to demonstrate that all dinosaurian cohabitations were captured by the rocks and man was not. I know of no such study and I’m positive that if it were ever to be conducted it would not contradict the Torah. But this is neither here nor there. I’m just looking for evidence that the two species could not have cohabitated. If you have any, I’d love to hear it.

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  17. If Meiselman is truly staking out such an absurd position, let him say so.

    Hundreds of thousands of fossils of prehistoric animals have been discovered all over the world. Anyone finding the fossil of a human or modern animal in these rock layers would become instantly rich and famous, and would overturn much of the scientific enterprise. But nobody's ever done so.

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  18. I know nothing about science and my father is a geologist and an evolutionist. I grew up with all these trilobites or whatever all around the house, but for the life of me cannot see a world inhabited by all these weird things without real human beings. Who would love G-d in that crazy world? All this evolution stuff is a pretty neat theory, buy I just believe in the seven days of creation. It's a beautiful thing and is what our Torah says. I don't have a problem with people believing in evolution, everyone to his own, but I don't. When people follow G-d they are so awesome! They are kind, selfless, honest, they are so good! In my mind there is no way we could have possibly developed from anything. Haviv Adom shnivrah beztzelem! I believe that the Almighty G-d had created me and I love him! This is the first and last time that I am commenting on this subject. I just wanted to come out of the closet. I love this blog but I don't want anyone to think that I am an evolutionist.

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  19. So at least for Coffer (and I don't see how Meiselman can deny this) being a frum Jew means believing that human beings lived at the same time at dinosaurs.

    What happened to "ki hi chochmatchem ubinatchem le'einei ha'amim?"

    Perhaps Meiselman and Coffer should try to reopen *Dinosaur Adventure Land* so that they can educate their students into the proper haskofo.

    From wikipedia:

    "n 2001, Hovind started Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL), a young Earth creationist theme park located behind Hovind's home in Pensacola, Florida. The park depicts humans and dinosaurs co-existing in the last 4,000–6,000 years and also contains a depiction of the Loch Ness monster.[25] Dinosaurs are central to Hovind's website and creation advocacy because "the creation world view says dinosaurs have always lived with man and there might still be a few alive today."[26] A 2004 Skeptical Inquirer article explored visiting Hovind's dinosaur theme park and concluded that the park is deceptive and deliberately misleads visitors. "

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  20. So at least for Coffer (and I don't see how Meiselman can deny this) being a frum Jew means believing that human beings lived at the same time at dinosaurs.

    Who knows what Meiselman can deny? Once you're going against all evidence and reason, you can say anything. Maybe a million generations of dinosaurs lived and died ten minutes before man was created.

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  21. "Who knows what Meiselman can deny? Once you're going against all evidence and reason, you can say anything. Maybe a million generations of dinosaurs lived and died ten minutes before man was created."

    Compared to this view, the Dinosaur Adventure Land people look like paragons of reason and intellectual honesty.

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  22. Well, one thing can certainly be said for them: At least they are open and explicit about what they believe regarding dinosaurs. They're not hiding their views!

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  23. "Well, one thing can certainly be said for them: At least they are open and explicit about what they believe regarding dinosaurs. They're not hiding their views!"

    This is an important point. The tactics employed by people like Meiselman are: deflect, distract and daven that people don't detect the flaws in your logic.

    I have a lot more respect for the Dinosaur Adventure Land people (DALS) who openly embrace the implications of their ideas. Were Meiselman and ilk to have any moral and intellectual backbone they would either go the DAL route or else say: Judaism is irrational; Hashem put the dinosaur bones there as a test for our Emunah.

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  24. Here is what bothers me with the article:
    1) Would he still be writing it if 99% of science said the world was less than 6000 years old?
    2) We can say that we are not certain that the universe is 14 or 15 billion years old. It may be more or less. But we can say that it is not 6000 years old.
    3) He is fitting the science of how the world came about and developed to a specific Text. Not very scientific.
    One of the things that always troubled me when reading creationist material was: how could these intelligent people believe this stuff? The answer is simple. Kurt Wise a famous Harvard trained geologist says: “...if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Wise). Also, the institute of creation research (which has some highly qualified scientists on its team) makes its objective clear: “For over four decades, the Institute for Creation Research has equipped believers with evidence of the Bible's accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework”. That is the problem. They place faith before reason.

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  25. Carol: According to you, who loved God during the first five days of creation? If, according the literal meaning, God can wait until the sixth day for some one to love him, surely, from His perspective, He can wait several million or billion years as well.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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  26. No, during the first five days of creation the world was being created. This is different from monsters roaming around and evolving for billions of years. I am not saying kiblu daati, but this is what makes sense to me.

    And it's obvious that I agree that 'Dialogue' and Dr. Betech are an embarrassment to Judaism. I hope someday somebody will put this thing together.

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  27. "I think the worst travesty is that frum people can be granted a PhD and then go on to make claims outside his field as an authority simply because he has a PhD."

    Well said. Arguments from authority are not part of the scientific method. I earned a PhD in biostatistics, but unless I'm discussing something like the inconsistency of maximum likelihood estimators in the presence of an infinite number of nuisance parameters, I've really no more qualified than educated lay people. I'm right about the ancient universe because the evidence for it is overwhelming, not because I have a PhD.

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  28. Regarding explanations of the natural world, if you accept anything as authoritative other than empirical evidence, you aren't part of the scientific discussion. Period. Otherwise, it is like a Reform Rabbi arguing halachah -- by rejecting the basic framework for the discussion, you really don't have anything to add to the conversation. Unfortunately, we have done a poor job of educating the public about what science is really about, so many are willing to accept non-science as science.

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  29. When people follow G-d they are so awesome!

    Unless of course they are blowing themselves or others to smithereens. I don't recall any "evolutionists" embarking on jihad lately.

    Seriously, what's the connection between following God (in a good way) and one's stance on evolution? Can't we be "awesome" and maintain common sense too?

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  30. Ten Jew Very MuchMay 26, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    "OJ" is being redefined as "Obscurantist Judaism."

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  31. Saber-tooth tigerMay 26, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    "Is Meiselman claiming that Tyrannosaurus rex, veloceraptor, and saber-toothed cats all ate grass and leaves?!"

    What's wrong with a saber-toothed vegetarian?

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-archaeologists-saber-toothed-vegetarian.html
    or
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110324-saber-toothed-sabertooth-vegetarian-science-evolution-tiarajudens/

    National Geographic explains with scientific precision why there'd be such a creature: "Why did plant-eating Tiarajudens eccentricus — "the eccentric tooth of the Tiarajú region" — have idiosyncratic dentition? The answer may lie in evolutionary experimentation."


    ("Archaeologists" should be replaced with "Paleontologists" in the first article.)

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  32. There's nothing wrong with a saber-toothed vegetarian. Some deer have tusks. But there's everything wrong with a saber-toothed vegetarian CAT.

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  33. Hundreds of thousands of fossils of prehistoric animals have been discovered all over the world.

    I didn't think that was true, and I consider myself an evolutionist! I googled quickly and found this: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/invertpaleo/about.htm
    So there are hundreds of thousands of species but millions of fossil specimens. Wow!

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  34. Explaining how dinosaurs lived is the most vivid example of why the "scientific" brand of young Earth creationism is so embarrasing. But it's also worth pointing out, as R' Slifkin did in his book, that overwhelming evidence of old age is everywhere: e.g. incremental dating, radiometric dating, astronomical dating, etc.

    Another example that speaks to me is the billions of impact craters observed on bodies throughout the solar system. Many of these craters are clearly hundreds of millions of years old. See for example page 134 in chapter 7 of Geological History of the Moon. Good luck finding a coherent way to explain how these craters appeared with all their features in much less than 6000 years.

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  35. Seriously, what's the connection between following God (in a good way) and one's stance on evolution? Can't we be "awesome" and maintain common sense too?

    I never said anything to the contrary. You people are very educated and know what you are talking about from the scientific perspective. I enjoy listening and learning from you. However, to me, man's spirituality and morality sets him apart from all other living creatures and completely negates any possibility of him evolving from lower forms of life. Torah text supports this view. I am not denying the legitimacy of the scientific theory of evolution. My dad and my Geology PHD brother-in-law can lay it out pretty nicely. I just don't believe it can be true. If it works for you, I don't have a problem with that.

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  36. All of this is beside the point. As one comment already alluded to, we have almost 10 000 years of unbroken society records. Forget Bereshis. We first have to explain when the flood happened.

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  37. Carol, you stated this:
    -----------------------------------
    However, to me, man's spirituality and morality sets him apart from all other living creatures and completely negates any possibility of him evolving from lower forms of life.
    -----------------------------------
    I am just curious as to why you think that. Why is it more "spiritual" to say Adam came out of a lump of dirt than to say he evolved from some lower form of life? After all, G-d can do anything.
    Actually, all of us are made out of "lumps of dirt"...all the material in our body comes of out inert elements found in the earth.
    The lower animals also came out of the same "earth" and its elements. On the other hand, our bodies are designed physiologically the same way as "lower animals", so we have a lot in common with them, but with our divinely-created neshama added. I am afraid I don't see any conflict if we did indeed evolve out of some sort of "lower aminal life".

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  38. Rafi-
    Thanks for bringing the Lunar example. I have read Don Wilhelm's book "To a Rocky Moon". I have used the example of the Moon many times as an example to show how evolutionary processes have operated on a planetary scale. If you look at the Moon with a trained eye, you can see how the Moon evolved stage after stage over a long period of time. These things are harder to see on the earth's surface due to the presence of water which has changed the face of the earth.
    On the Moon we see massive basins (large impacts) and somewhat smaller creaters which were later filled with lava. This lava then faced forces which led to it sinking or folding. Later impacts in the same area left other, smaller craters, some of which themselves later were partially or completely filled with more lava. We also see sharp crater walls which leave what look likes steps of stairs but which have slumped over time.
    Rays of ejecta material from later impacts cover the lower features. Thanks to the Apollo Lunar landing missions we can date the times these various process occurred. We can see that the Moon had a partially molten phase. All these processes followed one another in a clear, logical sequence which our minds can unravel. It is now believed the Moon was created when a large body smashed into Earth. Out of this gigantic, firey cataclysm came the EXACT, delicate conditions to support life on Earth. Without the Moon, there would be no life on earth because the Earth's axis would wobble causing a situation in which day-time would last 6 months on one half the earth and darkness would last the same time on the other side. This would lead to extreme temperatures and prevent the existence of liquid water, which would not allow life as we know it to exist. The Earth would also have a more irregular orbit around the sun leading to large climatic variations.
    It is beautiful to behold the wonders of G-d's universe and the truly massive forces involved and it increases my appreciation for the Creator, who made the cosmos in such a wonderful, massive, powerful way and, at the same time, cares about each and every of us. Studying science INCREASES religious awe in many people who can appreciate it.

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  39. A reminder: Anonymous comments are not posted. Please see the comments policy.

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  40. The problem with Young Earth Creationism and Its side kick "Intelligent Design" is that they are intellectual dead ends. Creationism at least in any current form can never be a fruitful scientific theory (and when pushed even its proponents will admit that). This was hashed out in great depth in US Federal court a few years back in the case "Kitzmiler v . Dover". The PBS Show Nova did a very good episode on this which can be found on You Tube if anyone is interested.

    By fruitful what I mean is that a good theory will point the way to new discoveries. The practice of Alchemy in the middle ages was tried for hundreds of years but lead to nothing. On the other hand the modern science of Chemistry is very fruitful and has brought all sorts of new discoveries. Once the Periodic table of the elements was created in the late 19th century chemists were able to predict that there should be elements that had not yet been discovered and make pretty good guesses at their properties! that is a fruitful theory, simply throwing up your hands and saying its a miracle is not.

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  41. The practice of Alchemy in the middle ages was tried for hundreds of years but lead to nothing.

    I disagree - the practice led to self-purification, it was a kind of meditative tikkun of oneself, if I understand it properly. Its purely physical manifestation, chemistry, is completely void of ethical content, and while it may "point the way to new discoveries" in the physical sense, it does not lead to discovery of the self. The same may be true for creationism vs. evolution.

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  42. "I’m just looking for evidence that the two species could not have cohabitated. If you have any, I’d love to hear it."

    If anyone is insinuating that dinosaurs were in existence before the Mabul and that they were destroyed my it, should consider.

    Hashem commanded Noach "to take from all living things, from all flesh, two of each to bring into the ark. From the birds and from the animals and from every creeping thing of the earth of its kind. Two of each will come to you to be kept alive." Bereishis 6:19-20.

    The Torah calls Noach a righteous man, it dose not call anyone else righteous only him.
    If God commanded Noach the righteous man to do this, you can be confident that he would have found a way and would have taken two of each dinosaur along with him in the ark, (He could have taken baby dinosaurs or dinosaur eggs into the ark) or they would have come to him, to the ark on their own, to be kept alive. (if they were still in existence) And maybe they would still be dinosaurs alive today.

    Furthermore Hashem will never ask a person to do something that he/she is not capable of doing, or something that is just impossible.

    As we see from a Torah perspective,

    A)Dinosaurs did not exist before the Mabul and therefore could not have been destroyed by it.

    B) It is more probable that the two species (man and dinosaur) could not have cohabitated.

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  43. I heard Prf. Domb is not a big fan of yours

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  44. I have no idea if he is or isn't a fan of mine. But you can be sure that he believes the universe to be billions of years old, and Meiselman's theories to be nonsense!

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  45. All I've read of Rabbi Meiselman's article is what has been posted on this blog, so what I'm writing could be completely false, but his response to your blog post might be as follows:
    Nature worked completely differently in the six days of creation, it may be that 14 billion years happened in six days. I had a dream last night that was especially long and I felt it lasted about 30 minutes (even though it was spread over a few days and in different countries). The dream was probably a split second long. It could be that the 14 billion year history of the world happened in 6 days. I have read The Challenge of Creation. I know there are many arguments against this position, but it seems R Meiselman is relying on miracles.
    He would agree that modern science argues with what he has said. He can't prove his position scientifically either. His argument is that the Torah says the world is 5771 years old and science is based off the false assumption that things are as they always have been.
    IMHO the only major difficulty with positing many miracles to solve the contradiction between science and Bereishit is the history of man. The fact that science believes that man has been around for longer than 5771 years and that he lived all over the planet and that people nowadays are descendants of these men that we're descended from Adam. I think all the other arguments you make in The Challenge of Creation aren't refutations. Why would God "lie" and make the world look older than it is? I don't know, ask Him.

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  46. That's not his approach, and it's not meaningful. If 15 billion years of activity is taking place, then that IS 15 billion years. It's meaningless to describe it as "six days."

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  47. "That's not his approach, and it's not meaningful. If 15 billion years of activity is taking place, then that IS 15 billion years. It's meaningless to describe it as "six days.""

    Ok, but didn't God describe his creation as having taken place in 6 days? But that's not meaningless even though we know it was not 6 days literally. I agree with you, but I think you need to refine the way you are answering the above so you more clearly refute it and without negating your own approach to other issues.

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  48. Well, if you read The Challenge Of Creation, especially the third edition, you'll see that I explain that Six Days really does literally mean six 24-hour regular days.

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