Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Art By God

There's a terrific store in Miami which sells all kinds of beautiful artifacts from the natural world - minerals, weird bugs, taxidermy mounts, and so on. The store has a fabulous name: Art By God. What a great name! There's art that is created by human beings, but the natural world can be seen as art created by the Creator.

I was thinking of this name when contemplating a unique tie that my wife bought me, pictured here. Can you figure out what it's a collage of? (You might have to click on the picture to enlarge it.) I was very proud of my oldest children, who guessed it; fortunately, they attend a school that is not shy to teach such things.

My youngest, age five, was sitting on my lap this past Shabbos as we were singing Menucha v'simcha, and he pointed at one of the animals on my tie and asked me what it was. Incredibly (and this is enough to give a rationalist the shivers), at that precise second, we were singing the words v'chayas re'emim, which is exactly what the animal was. For the re'em, as readers of The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom will know, is the aurochs.

Skeleton of an aurochs
Aurochsen are the only animals in Tanach which are now extinct. They only became extinct about four hundred years ago, but the ones drawn in this picture on my tie are from long before that. Because this tie is a collage of pictures from the Lascaux Cave paintings in France, which are estimated to have been drawn around twenty thousand years ago.

A tie of paleolithic cave art! Now here's where it gets really interesting. According to some religious believers, the explanation for the world appearing to be millions of years old is that when God created it 5778 years ago, He created it fully formed, with the appearance of looking old. This approach, known as prochronic theory, has been advanced by people such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, one of the commentators to the previous post, and in most detail by the the Christian preacher Phillip Henry Gosse in the 19th century. Thus, dinosaur fossils, for example, are not the remnants of creatures that once ruled the earth, but rather were created as fossils by God, for reasons unknown.

In my book The Challenge of Creation, I present a range of objections to this view. For example, was Adam created with memories of his non-existent childhood? Surely not. So would he have had scars from childhood injuries that never happened? Likewise, surely not. So then surely he would not have had a navel, from an umbilical cord that was never removed. And surely trees would not have had rings, from cycles of seasons that never happened. And surely the land would not have layers of sediment, accumulated from processes that never took place.

Thinking further about this approach reveals even more ramifications that are stretch credulity. If all the evidence of the world being more than 5778 years old is just how God made the world look, then it includes not only dinosaur fossils, but also artifacts of civilization from that period. Which means that the paintings of aurochsen and other animals in the Lascaux Caves were not painted by paleolithic cavemen, but were intead painted by God. Art by God!

So what do advocates of the prochronic approach think about such problems? I'll tell you the truth: they've never thought about them. One thing I will say in favor of Christian Young Earth Creationists is this: they have thought out their approach in detail. They might have crazy unscientific notions, but they've taken the time to think about exactly what they are proposing and to flesh it out. Contemporary Jewish advocates of non-scientific approaches have done no such thing. That's how Rabbi Moshe Meiselman can write an 800-page book on Torah and science which purports to be the definitive work on the topic, and yet he does not address the most basic of questions about when the dinosaurs lived.

As I've said before on several occasions, if people want to have such silly ideas or lack of ideas, it really doesn't bother me. And I don't think that it's going to greatly harm their lives. The only problem is when they attempt to delegitimize other people who do accept the scientific enterprise. And who are reasonable enough not to posit that the paintings on my tie, or the fossils on my bookshelf at home (not in the museum, Heaven forbid!), were created by God.


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80 comments:

  1. Classic post - when one can't fathom the meaning of Torah or align Torah with supposed modern day thinking - Trash goes the Torah. Maybe, Maybe, you just don't understand creation as did billions of people since brias olam????? Chazal already said it is improper to contemplate what was before the creation of the world. Yet somehow the great Dr Slifkin knows better than chazal and all previous generations. Classic, along with Moses Mendelssohn, that understood Torah better than all the Rabbis, who's kids married goyim and ate pork.

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    1. No one is contemplating what happens before בריאת העולם, and your continued assertions to the contrary simply demonstrate that you have spurned Hashem's gift of דעת ובינה.

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    2. Mendelssohn thought no such thing, any more than any other perush has. He lived his entire life as a fully believing, fully observant Jew.

      If there's any justice in this world, one day you'll have to bring a minyan to Berlin to ask mechilah at his grave.

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    3. www.myjewishlearning.com/article/moses-mendelssohn/
      Scary how this same exact article could have been written about Slifkin.

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    4. I am sorely tempted to ban you from this blog. You just throw things out without every giving any serious thought to anything. In particular, to the views of the Rishonim. And in particular, Rambam. That article is about as applicable to me as it is to Rambam. But you haven't the slightest idea of Rambam's views, or any interest in learning them.

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    5. The article cited by "Modern_Orthodox" is by a leader in the Masorti movement who wishes to claim Mendelssohn for his own movement. Not exactly credible for an Orthodox argument.

      https://www.myjewishlearning.com/author/matt-plen/


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    6. I recently heard a former President of the Rabbinical Council of America not known to be particularly liberal say publicly that were he alive today Mendelssohn would have been teaching at either Yeshiva University or Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and would have fit in well at either.

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    7. @Rabbi Slifkin: please do ban him. For his own sake. I don't think anyone here is very threatened by his nonsense, but it seems like he could use another hobby.

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    8. And Cross-Currents will be at war with him

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  2. It may seem unreasonable to you but it is just a variation on the 5 minute theory that posits that you and everything else sprung into existence 5 minutes ago complete with a false set of memories to make you think you're much older. All your memories are false. Childhood scars? False. Your umbilicus? Never served a purpose, it's just there to make you look like it did. The world around you? Purpose built, with sediment layers, fossils and the like to look like it's billions of years old but it only came into being 5 minutes ago.
    It's a crazy theory but you cannot disprove it. Any proof you bring, I can throw into the "Yes, but it's just another false memory or artifact put there 5 minutes ago to make you think that".
    Now substitute 5778 for 5 minutes.

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    1. The 5 minute "theory", while impossible to disprove, is also unreasonable. If we even begin to accept it, there's no point in following any form of Torah or Halacha, since it's obviously not a communication from God to someone who never lived.

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    2. It depends on what you mean "disprove" and what you mean by history. In my mind there is no real vs. false history. History is just what you get when you run time backwards. If you know all the rules of causality then what you have now is predicated on a set of causes. those causes are called history. To the extent that you can take a "slice" of causes al equidistant in time from a given moment that is what existed that amount of time ago. (you can't, but that is a different topic).

      To propose that there is a different more "real" history that didn't involve any of these causes, but a Special Cause is of itself an irrational position. What makes that history more real than the implied version? I would say the implied version is more real. To be clear that means even in your thought experiment, once the world was created 5 minutes ago, all the history implied by the planted "false" memories etc. are actually the real history and your Creator would be the false one.

      To be clear this is very different from creationism (young or old). Creationists, even of the variety critiqued by RNS argue that the overal evidence points towards their particular supported history. As an example (but the thought process varies considerably), the argument may be that the Torah, mesorah etc. are powerful enough evidence to support against any evidence the other way. In effect you need to modify your thought experiment to "the whole universe was creaded 5 minutes ago [blah blah], and Gd himself tells you this right now. True the causality argument would say that history reaches far back, but that causality is not enough to explain the Gdly proclamation. So you (may be) forced to say that true Causality shows that 5 minutes ago there was nil.

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    3. Come on. Certain things happened or they didn't.

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  3. While the five-minute theory may be unlikely, I often use it as an explanation as to why it is futile to argue with somebody other than on the basis of reasonable Proof or doubt.
    Kt
    Joel rich

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    1. yes, that was my point. It's unreasonable but not impossible. That was my point. The guy who says dinosaur bones were planted in the ground to test our emunah in the world literally being 5778 years old has decided that possible makes unreasonable acceptable.

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  4. I would have thought that early human activity dating back 20,000 is less of a challenge to young-earthers than dinosaurs.
    For example, to claim that dating systems are off my a magnitude of 4 (events that are dated to 20,000 years ago really happened 5000 years ago) is not as unreasonable as a claim that dating systems are off by a magnitude of over a million.

    It is also possible that our calculations of the exact age of the earth based on the Tenach is not accurate - the calculation of 5778 is a relatively new calculation (I'm sure someone can say exactly when we started using this calculation, pretty sure it's post-Talmudic).
    Rishonim have different calculations for the dates of Biblical events, for example, rishonim disagree on the dates in many events in Sefer Berashit (what month did the flood start, how old was Avraham at lech lecha, were we in Egypt 210 years or 430 years).

    I think that you could be a Bible literalist and still hold that the calculation of 5778 is off by a few thousand years, although I'm not sure if anyone holds this (we seem to have divided ourselves into 2 camps – the world is either exactly 5778 years old, or several billion years old, there is no middle ground)

    I once heard an interesting shiur by someone who claimed that the generations in the Tenach are deliberately incomplete and only mention significant names, so in fact there were many more than 10 generations from Noach To Avraham, or from Avraham to Moshe, which would account for the massive population explosions and would mean that you can't use the list of generations to calculate the age of the world, i.e., Adam could have lived far more than 6000 years ago.

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    1. I've heard a similar theory based on irregularities in the Tanach text. For example, Salma and Salmon in David HaMelech's geneology in Ruth.

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    2. I think the gemara early in avoda zara gives basically our numbers for years since creation up to the second churban.

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    3. IIRC the dating is based on Seder Olam Rabbah, a non-canonical midrashic work attributed to the Tanna Rabbi Yose ben Halafta.

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    4. Which rishonim say we were in Egypt for 430 years?

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    5. If I recall correctly, I think the Rabbeinu Bechaya discusses the number of years we were in Egypt, and questions Rashi's claim that we were there for 210 years. If I have time later I'll look for a source (although knowing this blog someone will either find it before me, or point out that I am mistaken)

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    6. Counting from creation is mentioned in passing in the Gemara, but not dwelt on. They believed the world was created in what we call 3761 BCE, but counted from the much later Seleucid era.

      But your arguments are ultimately meaningless. You can add many more generations, or take into account every discrepancy (you didn't mention the Second Bayit one, or the First Bayit, or the period of the Shoftim, none of which are really considered by Chazal), and you still will add a few thousand years maximum. And even if you count Adam amd Eve as the first Homo Sapiens (if there even was such a thing), that still only takes you back a couple of hundred thousand years or so, which is almost literally nothing compared to the twelve billion or so the universe has been around.

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    7. What do you mean by "non-canonical"?

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    8. Shadal says somethings similar to the idea I mentioned, that the generations listed in Shemot and Bearshit are not father-son, but rather when a single family "e.g., sons of Levi" split into multiple families "Sons of Gershom, Kehat and Merari", which would have happened years after the death of the families founder (Levi), hence we would have been in Egypt more than 210 years.

      :
      האב חי, על הרוב היו כל צאצאיו לאגודה אחת במשפחה אחת (אעפ"י שלפעמים היו הבנים מתפרדים בתיי אביהם, כגון יצחק וישמעאל בחיי אברהם, ויעקב ועשו בחיי יצחק), ובמות האב היתה המשפחה נחלקת, ולפעמים גם אחר מיתת האב לא היתה מתחלקת עד אחר זמן מה. והנה משמעות הפרשה הזאת לפי דעתו היא כי משפחת לוי נשארה בתואר משפחה אחת ונקראת ע"ש לוי משך 137 שנים אחרי מות יעקב, ואז אחר זמן שמת לוי נחלקה לשלוש משפחות, ע"ש גרשום, קהת ומררי. וכן משפחת קהת עמדה לאגודה אחת 133 שנים, ואח"כ נחלקה לארבע משפחות. ובזמן יציאת מצרים כבר עברו 137 שנים, שהיתה משפחת עמרם משפחה אחת, וממנה היו משה ואהרן. והנה אם תחבר שלושת המספרים האלה 137 ו-133 ו-137, ותוסיף עליהם 17 שנה שעברו לישראל במצרים קודם מיתת יעקב, יהיו בידך 424 שנים, כלומר קרוב ל-430 שנה. לפיכך (הוא אומר) כל מקום שנאמר בן יצהר, בן קהת וכיוצא, ענינו מזרע יצהר מזרע קהת.

      source: http://parsha.blogspot.co.il/2010/01/how-do-we-count-430-years.html

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    9. Nachum, thanks for providing that info. My comment was that Cave Drawings made 20,000 years ago are not necessarily a challenge to Bible literalists the way that dinosaur bones are, which I think you would agree with based on your comment.

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    10. I think the problem is that 5778 is a barrier. Can you cross it or not. If you can then does it really matter how far you go?

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    11. I looked up Rabbeinu Bechaya and Abarbanel and the Chizkuni and the Bechor Shor and they all follow Rashi and Chazal counting from Avrohom. The Rambam in Iggeres Teiman says some people say we were in Egypt for 430 years but he doesn't say it's correct. Does anyone know the rishonim who say we were in Egypt for 430 years?

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  5. Rav Dessler posits that the world is recreated every second. Hamechadesh betuvo bechol yom ma'aseir breishis.

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    1. Modern physics also says that. It's all flashing on and off billions of times a second.

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  6. "In my book The Challenge of Creation, I present a range of objections to this view. For example, was Adam created with memories of his non-existent childhood? Surely not."

    In the latest Blade Runner movie, that is precisely what happens.

    Why would it be beyond an all powerful god to do such a thing?

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    1. It's not beyond His abilities. But it's a weird thing to suggest.

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    2. So something that's "weird" in your progressive thinking mind - is therefore untrue and not possible?!
      Now that's certainly a true scientific approach to analyzing an issue and coming to a proper conclusion!
      And you want people to accept what you say as truth and uncompromising fact?!

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    3. So you DO think that Adam was created with memories of the human parents that he never had?

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    4. That's immaterial, the point is that your methods are flawed and compromise the truth.
      Once you acknowledge that, then there's something to talk about.

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    5. Okay, that's it. I've had enough of you trolling this site with comments that have no content, criticisms that have no basis in scholarship or any serious thought, and crazy ideas (like describing the alpaca as a "small animal") that you insist upon in order to delegitimize others. You are hereby blocked from commenting here. Feel free to open up your own blog to share your pearls of wisdom.

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    6. Okay, so there's the deeper level. In Blade Runner and BR2049 some replicants are given memories of a life never lived, fake photos and the works. The question is: why? Well the makers were experimenting, trying to see if creating a replicant and then fooling it into thinking it's human would change its behaviour.
      So let's say God did the same thing: created a ready-made world full of history that never happened. We have to ask: why? To test our emunah? Really? God's that fickle? Hes trying to get us to screw up? Based on everything we know about Him there's no indication He'd ever do that. Unless, of course, He's fooled us into thinking that but if you've gone that far and have no trust in Him, why hang out with any monotheistic religion?

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    7. I still think the stronger argument (which I got from you) is: Why would Hashem try to fool us?

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    8. I sort of answer this in my comment below - it's not to trick us, it's to create a world that functions AS IF it is old. Having the world be old for all intents and purposes may be necessary to allow for natural laws to remain natural and yet to also allow for things ike proliferation of life and speciesation (specieation?), the conversion of ancient organic matter into crude oil and natural gas, the time for light to travel from distant stars etc.

      We don't need to worry about emunah one way or the other. We can perceive the world as it's meant to be perceived, but we can "detach" and say that HKBH created the scenario that we see before us only 6000 years ago. An analogy could be reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a video game: Middle Earth or Hyrule or whatever may have history going back millenia, but in reality they only sprung into existence when Tolkien et al dreamt them up - or even better, the moment the game loaded.

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    9. > Hes trying to get us to screw up? Based on everything we know about Him there's no indication He'd ever do that.

      I disagree. Based on what we know about Him, that's exactly the sort of thing He would do. Then he and the Satan would have a good laugh, just like they did when they toyed with poor Iyov.

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    10. The Torah says: שאל נא לימים ראשונים Devorim 4:32 which I guess means that they happened.

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  7. While I understand the objections to the 5-minutes-ago theory (though I never remember them, possibly because I was only created 5 minutes ago), and I personally accept rationalist understandings, this idea never bothered me. The reason: it allows us to BEHAVE AS IF we all agree! So a prochronic follower can mumble to himself "it looks as if" when his museum tour guide says that the dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago, and cave paintings are from 20,000 years ago. And since the world LOOKS AS IF it is that way, clearly we are supposed to deal with the world that way like in understanding geologic, astronomic, biologic etc trends. Therefore, in l'maaseh discussions about moving forward, we can (should??) not have any problems. The only problems exist in a philosophical or "what really happened" discussion - and when that discussion gets inserted into a practical discussion, which of course happens more often than it should.

    This theory avoids the shoehorned explanations like "The Flood changed things" or "carbon-dating is unreliable" or "Adam rode a brontosaurus like Fred Flintstone." It avoids "dinosaurs never existed" because even though according to the theory they technically didn't, the world was created AS IF they did and so we can behave as if they did.

    As an acceptable alternative for others to believe, in other words, I always felt it was one of the most preferable. It allows both sides to be comfortable and feel smug and superior about themselves ("we know dinosaurs didn't exist, but since HKBH put their bones here, nebich the rationalists think they were really there but it's OK bc HKBH had a reason for putting the bones there" and "we know dinosaurs did exist but as long as the antirationalists understand the ramifications of having a world that seems old even if they believe that it technically is NOT old, it's OK").

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    1. I think it's important to educate Orthodox Jews (who claim anyway to understand the Talmud pretty well, but apparently don't), that there is no reason at all to believe the world is only 6,000 years old. Why on earth would they? Because one Sage said so? So what?

      It's not OK that Orthodox Jews believe it because it means they are being ignorant about how to approach their own canonical texts.

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    2. Fozzie, that's not correct. It's not "one sage." It's the widespread traditional approach, based on the simple reading of the Torah.

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    3. Respectfully I disagree. The Torah says nothing about the age of the universe. Or from what point we start counting. Nor does it give any system for counting years.

      At some point in Jewish History the counting system became accepted. There is, as far as I'm aware, but happy to be proven wrong, only one comment in the Talmud about the six thousand year story.
      And it was widely accepted given the lack of reason not to accept it.
      Until (recently) there became a very good reason to not accept it.

      So, yes it's the traditional view and was widely held, but the foundation for it is very very weak indeed up to the point when one is forced to ask why orthodox jews hold onto it so tightly. There doesn't seem to be any need to do so.

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    4. I bring this as support, although I suppose you could also say it proves that it was more than one Sage. Fair enough. But it also proves the system has no basis in Tanakh and was only made up later and therefore no one needs to feel obliged to keep to it.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Mundi

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    5. "Respectfully I disagree. The Torah says nothing about the age of the universe."

      Of course it does! It says that there were six days of creation, culminating in the creation of a man, and then it provides a genealogy for his descendants, all the way through to the end of the Biblical period. You can't claim that the notion of the universe being a few thousand years old is just the innovation of one or two sages.

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    6. Rambam said you can't date the worldFebruary 23, 2018 at 8:29 AM

      "You can't claim that the notion of the universe being a few thousand years old is just the innovation of one or two sages. "

      Well theoretically he could if all but one or two sages never took that genealogy as indicating a year-count to the present day or a literal count backwards to the beginning of the world in years.

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    7. But it's obvious to all that genesis 1 is not meant to be taken literally.

      Which is why I said that Orthodox Jews don't really know how to study Judaism.

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    8. "But it's obvious to all that genesis 1 is not meant to be taken literally."

      That is definitely (and obviously!) not true.

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    9. ^^^this -- thanks for articulating this

      The question everyone should be asking is: What's the nafka mina? What practical difference would it make if it is historical fact, or what we would erroneously extrapolate as historical fact?

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    10. Rashi did't think you should take it literally... its in the second rashi on the whole torah (not very far in...) I love the way he writes ואם באת לפרשהו כפשוטו .. right? if you really feel you have to....

      בראשית ברא אֵין הַמִּקְרָא הַזֶּה אוֹמֵר אֶלָּא דָרְשַׁנִי, כְּמוֹ שֶׁדְּרָשׁוּהוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ בִּשְׁבִיל הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנִקְרֵאת רֵאשִׁית דַּרְכּוֹ (משלי ח'), וּבִשְׁבִיל יְשׂרָאֵל שֶׁנִקְרְאוּ רֵאשִׁית תְּבוּאָתוֹ (ירמיה ב'); וְאִם בָּאתָ לְפָרְשׁוֹ כִּפְשׁוּטוֹ, כַּךְ פָּרְשֵׁהוּ בְּרֵאשִׁית בְּרִיאַת שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ, וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁך וַיֹאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וְלֹא בָא הַמִקְרָא לְהוֹרוֹת סֵדֶר הַבְּרִיאָה לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵלוּ קָדְמוּ, שֶׁאִם בָּא לְהוֹרוֹת כַּךְ, הָיָה לוֹ לִכְתּוֹב בְּרִאשׁוֹנָה בָּרָא אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְגוֹ'

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    11. Fozziebear,
      Indeed, a great many Torah scholars have understood (correctly, in my view) that the first few perakim of Bereshit should not be taken as a literally true account. Nevertheless, it is also quite clear that many people, some of whom are Torah scholars of distinction, feel that it should be taken literally. Ergo it is not obvious to all.

      Also, wocka wocka.

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    12. you will have a hard time convincing me that anyone who has lived in the last 50 years who still takes it literally is a Torah scholar of distinction.

      They have no excuse.

      chag sameach!

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    13. You're changing the discussion. We were talking about whether that was the traditional view, not whether it is the contemporary view.

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    14. Sorry. And my last comment was stupid too. I withdraw it.
      But traditional can mean 'what people in the past believed' or 'what is the view of The Tradition'.
      So the answer depends on which sense...

      Chag Sameach.

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  8. I don't understand your arguments. Why is it that God creating on the fly sediments or tree rings or remnants of lost civilizations harder to believe than dinosaur bones or the big bang or anything else that you grant the theory can explain?

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  9. Silly theories aside. If we accept the Torah as true as well as acknowledging that dinosaurs are to be found, how do we explain things?

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    1. I think that somebody wrote a book about that, but the title escapes me.

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    2. There is nothing in th Torah that contradicts dinosaurs. At most, the details of them offered by science may not in sync with what was the traditional way of understanding life and history but the Torah does not say There are no dinosaurs. Which is why I feel this discussion becomes a roller coaster waste of time. I think it would b better to spend time discussing things that need some rational understanding or where the Torah seems to clearly defy rational thought and science of which there is what to do deal with.

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    3. that's really what I meant. if you consider dinosaurs you have to consider a vastly older world than 5778. They are part of a much bigger picture.

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    4. Skeptic... simple. You do what the Rambam said. You realize you've been learning the Torah wrong all these years and reinterpret it to fit the facts.

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  10. 100 years ago they would have laughed at the idea of selling new clothing that look old, but now pre-stressed jeans are commonplace. Likewise, aged furniture. Is the concept of a world created already in motion so difficult? I don't think so.

    Remember, we are operating under the premise that the world was created at a disctinct point in time. Is it reasonable to think that the sun was created, and yet remained dark for 8 minutes until its light reached us? Or that stars remained dark until, from light years away, their light finally reached Earth and then became visible? If one accepts the doctrine of a created Earth, then the concept of it being created in motion - being born old, in other words - seems perfectly rational.

    The theory works very well for natural phenomena. It is more difficult, yes, for items like the Lascaux cave paintings, but then again, perhaps the atmosphere causes the carbon test to distort, or perhaps the test itself is erroneous. [And of course, as is the case with dinosaur bones, the public never actually gets to see them, much less test them.] At any event, its just a question. No scientific theory was ever propounded, both those in vogue and those long discarded, for which you couldn't ask questions. Questions aren't fatal.

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    1. Questions are not fatal, true. Refusing to accept answers may not be fatal either but it is bloody stupid.

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  11. [And of course, as is the case with dinosaur bones, the public never actually gets to see them, much less test them.]

    Come to think of it, the public never got to see, much less test, the remains of the World Trade Center.

    That way trutherism lies.

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    1. Nobody could go there for months afterwards it was so hot...
      Bit of kerosene?

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  12. If you're in New York, you might enjoy "The Evolution Store"

    https://theevolutionstore.com

    Lots of beautiful wonders from the natural world.

    . Charles Cohen

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  13. The Lubavitch Rebbe was a proponent of the prochonic theory but it seems he didn't accept it entirely. For surely, one who can accept that Hashem has created a world with all the APPEARANCE of being millions of years old should also accept that the world was created to appear as if evolution has occurred over that whole time. So why object to evolution since it never really occurred (according to that view)? One who supports the five-minute theory should really have no problem accepting that diverse groups of animals evolved from one or a few common ancestors. I cant see how they can accept the former and not the latter.

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    1. 'Swhat I wuz tryin' ta say

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  14. For those that give any credence to the prochronic theory, read this wildly amazing fascinating article (https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/science/ligo-neutron-stars-collision.html) and then consider that if the prochronic theory is true then virtually none of the mind boggling science and facts in the article ever happened, nothing in the article is a real account of anything that remotely ever existed or occurred. No neutrino stars ever collided, the great masses of the universe’s dense elements never passed through their transformations in these reactor cores, no radio waves were ever expelled from these giant fission reactors in precise physical and mathematical configurations to commence their journey across interstellar space, and thousands of the world’s leading scientists are spending tens of thousands of hours doing complex mathematics deciphering fiendishly difficult physics problems and writing millions of words - describing a world that never was. When in fact the world was built in a giant show AS IF all of this fiendishly complicated astrophysical history that’s inextricably intertwined with the physics theory behind it WERE true. Really?? God has nothing better to do than play these wildly wickedly wacky games with all of our minds?!

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    1. God had nothing better to do than create insignificant men? And scientists didn't devote their lives to the - in retrospect - bogus field of alchemy?

      Besides, one has to grasp this point: That if the world was created in motion, then the events you describe DID happen, they just happened in a different dimension, before the world was brought into existence.

      Yes, I realize how much that sounds like science fiction. But it is said that in Israel, to be a rationalist, you have to believe in miracles. Similarly, in the legal world, it is useless to analyze the actions of a madman by use of the "reasonable man" standard. In the same vein, when contemplating Maase Bereaishis, even the hardest of hard-headed rationalists must be able to pivot to look at it from a non-rationalist point of view. To view everything from the same angle is a mistake. It's a subtlety that many rationalists (and I am generally one of them) fail to realize.

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    2. Why is the non-occurrence of THAT particular event the most bothersome, and not the absence of the formations of solar systems, the cellular processes that lead to energy formation, the organization of carbon just so to form diamonds, or the neural firings of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to create Superman? Sure, on one hand, it's an odd sort of tragedy that if the world was indeed created five minutes ago, these things never "truly" happened, but since we live in a universe that exists in the aftermath of these events, as far as the universe is concerned, they DID! Anyway, I'll stop beating this dead horse...

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    3. Actually, maybe I didn't answer the question - why would God want to mess with our minds. I don't think He does! I think He wants us to live in a world where we can push buttons and heat up our food in a little box in exactly 25 seconds. I think He wants us to have the opportunity to use gasoline powered cars or whatever comes next. I think He had to create a universe where quantum mechanics and General Relativity and logarithmic scales are important in order for free will to work, for our planet to have weather, and for life to go on. Perhaps everything else is necessary backdrop for all this...

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    4. @DF
      not convinced that alchemy was bogus. It's true that a lot of early scientists were failed alchemists (Newton kept his alchemical and mystical writings well under wrap) and presented themselves as avoiding anything to do with the irrational to avoid having trouble with the church and witchcraft. But I do think there is a fair deal of historical evidence that alchemy could be made to work. A lot of jews were involved, and Patai's book on Jews and Alchemy is worth a look.

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    5. "@DF
      not convinced that alchemy was bogus."

      A "discussion" between Skeptic and DF on "science". Purim is coming :).

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    6. You would like that wouldn't you.

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  15. Can you figure out what it's a collage of?
    A' PREHISTORIC CAVE PAINTINGS
    http://www.touropia.com/prehistoric-cave-paintings/

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  16. Whether everything just looks like it's older and whether everything really does have a history is a philosophical question. It has no scientific meaning because by definition it is not physically testable.

    The usual YA

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  17. Rav Slifkin writes "My youngest, age five, was sitting on my lap this past Shabbos as we were singing Menucha v'simcha, and he pointed at one of the animals on my tie and asked me what it was. Incredibly (and this is enough to give a rationalist the shivers), at that precise second, we were singing the words v'chayas re'emim, which is exactly what the animal was."

    Such tings happen to almost everybody at one point or another; Religious and non religious of all sorts. In fact, we can expect them to happen very often. It should not give rationalists any sort of shivers.

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  18. My biggest issue with prochronic theory is היד ה' תקצר
    Is it difficult for God to wait around? Does He chas veshalom get bored so is forced to cheat and makes things look old?

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    1. @Benny Ohana starting page 157 the Challenge of Creation by Rav Slifkin repudiates prochronic theory. For example Talmud does not support notion of previous stages to the world. [Prochronic theory is cheap. Also, scientifically it is bogus - there is a limit how fast matter can move and energy can be transmitted. Yep I know, throw in more miracles and all problems go away. Yep science did not apply back then.]

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