Sunday, February 18, 2018

Futile Torah-Science "Discussions"

(This is a sequel to yesterday's post, The Great Dinosaur Mistake)

I recently joined, and then left, an online discussion group about Torah-science issues. I had hoped that it would provide interesting and thought-provoking discussion, and indeed there were some participants who initiated such discussions. But there were two dominant voices in the group that caused me to leave.

One was a person who had The Ultimate Solution to the age of the universe. It was an endless sequence of comments about Deep Time, and SPIRAL, and other acronyms and jargon, and I didn't have a clue what he was talking about. I began to suspect that he didn't know what he was talking about, either. So I posted a comment to his discussion with my own jargon - a hodge-podge of meaningless but sophisticated-sounding terms. Lo and behold, he fell for it entirely, and excitedly responded with a flood of further discussion. There's no point engaging with such people, and it's rather frustrating when they attempt to take over every discussion.

The second was a person who presented himself as an authoritative voice on Torah-science issues. However, his approach was entirely non-rationalist. With regard to science, he did not respect the modern scientific enterprise; he casually dismissed facts that are universally accepted among biologists, geologists, paleontologists, and so on, if they raised problems with what he considered to be the unequivocal meaning of various parts of the Torah. With regard to Chazal, he wrote that "their thought processes are those of human beings far greater than ourselves – of rishonim k'malachim – and we are therefore very reticent to second-guess them" (which effectively meant that we can never say that they erred). He did not accept the legitimacy of Rishonim and Acharonim who said otherwise, and once approvingly cited a view that such authorities should be put in cherem. He would not accept that Chazal could be wrong about fundamental scientific facts, and he was willing to contrive any kind of interpretation, no matter how far-fetched, in order that Chazal should be correct. And if someone expressed a view that offended his religious sensibilities, he was eager to condemn their views as being beyond the pale.

Now, there is certainly ample basis in tradition for such views. However, they are not the Maimonidean or rationalist approach, and it renders any discussion of conflicts between Torah and science rather pointless. If you don't believe that modern science has raised any new challenges for Torah, and you're not willing to re-evaluate any traditional beliefs, and you're not willing to implement intellectual honesty in trying to understand what Chazal were actually saying, then there is simply no point in having any discussion.

55 comments:

  1. I assume it's not an accident that you don't provide a link to this group?

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  2. Your first experience reminds me of "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", i.e., the Sokal affair. If you aren't acquainted with it, check out wikipedia. Quite fascinating.

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  3. "I recently joined, and then left, an online discussion group about Torah-science issues... ."

    The second discussion about "rishonim k'malachim" took place in 2011. Is this a repost from that period?

    I've been considering the point if the most fruitful discussions are necessarily between people who share the same epistemology. In the Beis Midrash, for example, can a Brisker and non-Brisker with fundamental different approaches be chavrusas, where there is a necessary combative element, even between a father and son(Kiddushin 30b)?

    At the very least, fruitful discussions require each entering the other's mindset. Jonathan Rosenblum recently wrote in Mishpacha("Can't We Just Be Friends") about liberal universities monopolizing only one view, "Instead, listen to opposing arguments and try to understand where the other person is coming from. Be prepared to fulfill writer Conor Cruise O'Brien's definition of an intellectual as one who can admit when another has made a point in a debate"

    On the same issue in universities, R. Jonathan Sacks spoke recently on the BBC("Truth emerges from disagreement and debate"):

    "A safe space is the exact opposite: a place where you give a respectful hearing to views opposed to your own, knowing that your views too will be listened to respectfully. That’s academic freedom and it’s essential to a free society.

    And it’s what I learned at university. My doctoral supervisor, the late Sir Bernard Williams, was an atheist. I was a passionate religious believer. But he always listened respectfully to my views, which gave me the confidence to face those who disagree with everything I stand for. That’s safety in an unsafe world.

    And it’s at the very heart of my faith, because Judaism is a tradition all of whose canonical texts are anthologies of arguments...truth emerges from disagreement and debate"

    (One might expand upon the question to what extent Judaism engages with heresy, but this is R. Sacks' point which he elaborated further on the BBC)

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    1. "Shtika k'hodaah"
      I suppose Dr Slifkin agrees with your extremely well articulated post.

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  4. "...did not respect the modern scientific enterprise; he casually dismissed facts that are universally accepted among biologists, geologists, paleontologists..." Those scientists don't know shinola compared to our holy books. This sentiment is all too common among fundamentalist Muslim, Christian and yes Orthodox Jews. But it is worse. Many a fundamentalists disregard empirical evidence, are intellectually dishonest, disregard critical thinking and LOGIC itself, yet have the chutzpah to claim it they who are being reasonable and the skeptic deluded ! To laugh or cry ?

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    1. AK, some of us who read your work know that u are criticizing the author of this blog the same way this blog criticizes the charedi traditionalists

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  5. "...ample basis in tradition for such views"? It's about time we recognized that such views turn Chazal into gods, and so are assurim d'oraita.

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  6. One more time: Don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

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  7. The year is 1960. You are well aware that the most well-established theory in geology is the geosynclinal theory. (As a Clark & Stearns college textbook from that year put it: "The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles in geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of the theory of evolution which serves to integrate the many branches of the biological sciences. The geosynclinal theory is of fundamental importance to sedimentation, petrology, geomorphology, ore deposits, structural geology, geophysics, and in fact all branches of geological science. It is a generalization concerning the genetic relationship between the trough like basinal areas of the earth's crust which accumulate great thicknesses of sediment and are called geosynclines, and major mountain ranges. Just as the doctrine of evolution is universally accepted among biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain systems is an established principle in geology."
    A few years later, the theory is overthrown, in favor of plate tectonics.
    Meanwhile, you had been in a debate with a religious guy since 1950, and this guy rejected geosyncinal theory the whole time. You felt his grasp of science was poor and you felt his position was religiously motivated.
    Jump ahead to 1968. Question: What do you say to the man in 1968, now that geosynclinal theory has been overturned?

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    1. @Reardigan Science theories do not have 100% certainty, and get updated as new data emerges. It is the best we can do and is a work in progress. Science theories not being 100% certain does not give one licence to disregard them willy nilly and claim therefore my holy books.

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    2. Did he propose plate tectonics?

      If yes, I'd ask him what other areas of science he thinks are mistaken and what he thinks the correct explanation is likely to be. Then I'd start looking for empirical evidence of his theories and hopefully capitalise on his prophetic abilities.

      If not (as is always the case when religious beliefs are used to criticise science), like R' Slifkin said, there's nothing to talk about with him. The fact that science corrects itself is a feature, not a bug. Choose 10 random widely accepted scientific theories and criticise them. I'm confident that at least a third will have undergone some significant revision by the end of the century. Unless you can reliably predict which ones will be revised or what the revisions will be, your religious beliefs are as valuable to the scientific enterprise as flipping a coin.




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    3. That's a classic example of the fallacy in those who accept science unequivocally. Those who accept carbon dating as Torah from Sinai are blinded fools. Carbon dating is a theory not a fact! It can't be absolutely proven that something is older than 5778 years old. Just because it seemed accurate until then doesn't mean that it remains true as you go further back.

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    4. Those who think that the basic evidence that the universe is more than 5778 years old comes from carbon dating are blinded fools. People realized that the world is much older than that long before anyone thought of carbon dating. When do you think that the dinosaurs lived?

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    5. @Modern_Orthodox: Carbon-dating is *only* used to prove the age of relatively recent finds of biological origin. It is impossible to carbon-date the age of something that was never alive, and even things that were alive can't be measured with carbon dating beyond 50,000 years.

      Dating dinosaurs? Trilobites? Even most Neanderthals? You find out how old they are through completely different means, not through carbon dating. Kal vachomer things that were never alive. The age of the Earth itself and the age of the universe both come from many, many other sources. Heck, even the fact that the sky is black at night is proof that the universe is almost 14 billion years old; look up Olbers's Paradox.

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    6. "The fact that science corrects itself is a feature, not a bug."

      Wrong. It is most definitely a bug, no matter how often the true believers say it. [I see it a lot in Jewish blogs, it is apparently a vogue defense.] Think! Use common sense! You can't attack doctrines of Torah - whose adherents ascribe to it eternal truth - with doctrines of science, who even the adherents of admit might be proven wrong tomorrow. There's just no getting around that.

      Whether Torah doctrines actually are eternal truths, of course, is an entirely separate issue altogether.

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    7. You are questioning "מה לפנים מה לאחר" which the Talmud in chagigah forbids. In Judaism we accept that some things we just can't comprehend or understand. You have a good question doesn't give you the right to change the narrative of maaseh beraishis.

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    8. Do you just toss around ma'amarei Chazal, without any thought as to how they were explained and implemented by Rishonim and Acharonim? Apparently so.

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    9. You seriously questioning chazal? Ok, it's one thing to question their scientific knowledge, quite another thing to question their statements about brias olam. Hope you don't really believe you can mess with chazal on Torah topics.

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    10. Apparently you didn't understand what I wrote. Please try reading it again.

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    11. Oh I most certainly understood what you were saying. Chazal are lav dafka,and everything they say they don't really mean....that's called denying God's Torah in the Words of the holy Rambam who you are often to quote.
      This is today's form of modern maskilim. Instead of saying chazal were idiots, you disguise the language by saying they didn't really mean that or they didn't really say that, were they meant something else entirely. This is all code language for chazal made mistakes and weren't accurate and everything they said can be questioned to its authenticity and accuracy. It all started with your saying when the Torah said "chews it's cud" it meant lav dafka. From there onward everything was lav dafka...

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    12. Er, no, what I meant is that you have not bothered to learn how the Rishonim and Acharonim explain and implement this maamar Chazal. That's called tradition, not haskalah.

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    13. @M_O

      You are questioning "מה לפנים מה לאחר" which the Talmud in chagigah forbids.

      No one was doing that. Perhaps remedial English texts would be more your speed?

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    14. The same way that God created man and animals fully developed not in their embryonic state, so too he created a fully developed and mature world.

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    15. No Modern_Orthodox he seems to mean they mean what they say and we can contradict them in accordance with his interpretation of the method of the Rambam.

      The usual YA

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    16. God created the world with dinosaur fossils?

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    17. How do you know they are dinosaur fossils? Did you inspect them? Do you know for a fact they weren't tampered with? Because national geographic puts out videos of supposed dinosaur fossils means it's indisputable? Did you ever check out the credentials of these scientists making these claims? Dinosaurs seem more like a religion based on faith than raw fact. You have more faith in these scientists than they have in their own theories. These scientists came with an agenda to dispute maaseh beraishis, you still trust them....

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    18. So you're claiming that all the dinosaur skeletons were fabricated? This gets better and better.

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    19. Who says what they belonged to, that's all I'm suggesting. What ever they are/were from they had to have been from after maaseh beraishis otherwise you are going counter to chazal. This is not a science discussion, this about accepting chazal or not. Chazal say how old the world is and so does the Torah these things are immutable and are only for the disbelievers to debate .

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    20. I really don't understand what you're getting at. So there were dinosaurs or there weren't? And if there were, are you saying that they had to have lived less than 5778 years ago? Also, why do you keep talking about Chazal, aren't we talking about the Chumash here?

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    21. maaseh beraishis

      By definition, everything happened after that point. (No one seriously considers the Universe to be steady-state; sorry Aristotle.) The question is only how far back in time was maaseh beraishis?

      I am not aware that CHaZaL recorded an opinion on this matter, but even if they did, it doesn't mean they were correct.

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    22. Chazal say how old the world is and so does the Torah these things are immutable and are only for the disbelievers to debate .

      Do you have a source for the former? You absolutely have none for the latter, as the Torah never makes a claim on the age of the Universe.

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    23. Ok, ok, the World is 150 billion years old and dinosaurs existed. Now what? Throw away chumash that delineates everything from brias olam and onward to the mishnah that counts 10 generations from Adam to noach.

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    24. Do you think that you're the first person ever to have to struggle with a theological problem? Do you think that the Geonim and Rishonim never struggled with such conflicts? Go and learn, before you insist that you have to throw out science because you can't throw out Torah.

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    25. Nonsense, the Geonim and Rishonim never discussed this. It's a modern phenomenon invented by the secular world looking to discredit maaseh beraishis. That's how the theory of evolution came about as well as all the other nonsense theories

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    26. I didn't say that they discussed dinosaurs - they had no reason to do so, because dinosaurs hadn't been discovered yet. They discussed other conflicts between Torah and other systems of thought. Which led them to say things such as that certain parts of the Torah are not literal, and so on. Incidentally, the first people to realize that the world looks very old were not atheists seeking to discredit the Bible - they were devout Christians.

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    27. Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist, I agree with your comment 100%, but at the same time, I have to say: "no duh."
      "Q,"let us say that this friend, the one who rejected geosynclinal theory the whole time, rejected it because he believed the minority of scientists who rejected it. Maybe privately he rejected it *partly* because of his religious beliefs, but he never revealed that that was a reason. Would you say, "Wow, buddy, it seems you were right."?

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    28. Seems like a confluence of only like minded individuals here. Don't see anyone seeking to entertain other ideas other than ones that show science as somehow sacred and infallible. I would call it closed minded, which is ironic since that's supposedly the antithesis of the intent of this blog. I guess I will be the Jew "on the other side of the river".
      Emes means you seek truth regardless of your religious leanings or agenda. This stuff is all theory and hypothesis and you guys buy this stuff as if it's Torah from Sinai. Fact in science is an extremely relative concept. If you don't have all the facts of lack knowledge of a subject you can't claim it to be fact. Dinosaurs are subject lacking full information as is the age of the universe. Taking a position contrary to the simple reading of the Torah is foolish.

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    29. Sadly, the very first Ramban al HaTorah says otherwise. Although he also says that those who know the secret have to hide it. Hmm.

      בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אמר רבי יצחק: לא היה
      צריך להתחיל התורה אלא מ"הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם" (שמות יב ב), שהיא מצווה ראשונה שנצטוו בה ישראל. ומה טעם פתח בבראשית? שאם יאמרו אומות העולם: "ליסטים אתם, שכבשתם לכם ארצות שבעה גוים", הם אומרים להם: "כל הארץ של הקב"ה היא, ונתנה לאשר ישר בעיניו; וברצונו נתנה להם, וברצונו נטלה מהם ונתנה לנו". וזו אגדה בלשון שכתבה רבינו שלמה בפירושיו. ויש לשאול בה, כי צורך גדול הוא להתחיל התורה ב"בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים", כי הוא שורש האמונה; ושאינו מאמין בזה וחושב שהעולם קדמון, הוא כופר בעיקר ואין לו תורה כלל. והתשובה, מפני שמעשה בראשית – סוד עמוק, אינו מובן מן המקראות, ולא יוודע על בוריו אלא מפי הקבלה עד משה רבינו מפי הגבורה, ויודעיו חייבין להסתיר אותו. לכך אמר רבי יצחק שאין להתחלת התורה צורך ב"בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא", והסיפור במה שנברא ביום ראשון ומה נעשה ביום שני ושאר הימים, והאריכות ביצירת אדם וחוה, וחטאם ועונשם, וסיפור גן עדן וגירוש אדם ממנו, כי כל זה לא יובן בינה שלימה מן הכתובים. וכל שכן ספור דור המבול והפלגה, שאין הצורך בהם גדול. ויספיק לאנשי התורה בלעדי הכתובים האלה, ויאמינו בכלל בנזכר להם בעשרת הדברות (שמות כ י): "כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה ה' אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי", ותישאר הידיעה ליחידים שבהם הלכה למשה מסיני, עם התורה שבעל פה. ונתן רבי יצחק טעם לזה, כי התחילה התורה ב"בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים" וסיפור כל עניין היצירה עד בריאת אדם, ושהמשילו במעשה ידיו וכל שת תחת רגליו, וגן עדן – שהוא מבחר המקומות הנבראים בעולם הזה – נעשה מכון לשבתו, עד שגירש אותו חטאו משם. ואנשי דור המבול, בחטאם גורשו מן העולם כולו, והצדיק בהם לבדו נמלט, הוא ובניו. וזרעם, חטאם גרם להם להפיצם במקומות ולזרותם בארצות, ותפשו להם המקומות למשפחותם בגוייהם כפי שנזדמן להם. אם כן ראוי הוא, כאשר יוסיף הגוי לחטוא, שיאבד ממקומו ויבוא גוי אחר לרשת את ארצו, כי כן הוא משפט האלהים בארץ מעולם. וכל שכן עם המסופר בכתוב כי כנען מקולל ונמכר לעבד עולם, ואינו ראוי שיירש מבחר מקומות היישוב, אבל יירשוה עבדי ה' זרע אוהבו, כעניין שכתוב (תהלים קה מד): "וַיִּתֵּן לָהֶם אַרְצוֹת גּוֹיִם וַעֲמַל לְאֻמִּים יִירָשׁוּ בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמְרוּ חֻקָּיו וְתוֹרֹתָיו יִנְצֹרוּ". כלומר, שגירש משם מורדיו, והשכין בו עובדיו, שיידעו כי בעבודתו ינחלוה, ואם יחטאו לו – תקיא אותם הארץ כאשר קאה את הגוי אשר לפניהם. ואשר יבאר הפירוש שכתבתי, לשונם בבראשית רבה (פרשה א) שאמרוה שם בלשון הזה: רבי יהושע דסכנין בשם רבי לוי פתח, "כֹּחַ מַעֲשָׂיו הִגִּיד לְעַמּוֹ" (תהלים קיא ו). מה טעם גילה להם הקב"ה לישראל מה שנברא ביום ראשון ומה שנברא ביום שני? מפני ז' אומות, שלא יהיו מונין את ישראל ואומרים להם: הלא אומה של בזיזות אתם. וישראל משיבין להם: ואתם הלא בזוזה היא בידכם, הלא "כַּפְתֹּרִים הַיֹּצְאִים מִכַּפְתּוֹר הִשְׁמִידֻם וַיֵּשְׁבוּ תַחְתָּם" (דברים ב כג). העולם ומלואו של הקב"ה הוא, כשרצה – נתנו לכם; כשרצה – נטלו מכם ונתנו לנו. הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים קיא ו), "לָתֵת לָהֶם נַחֲלַת גּוֹיִם" – "כֹּחַ מַעֲשָׂיו הִגִּיד לְעַמּוֹ": בשביל לתת להם נחלת גוים, הגיד להם את בְּרֵאשִׁית. וכבר בא להם ממקום אחר עוד העניין שהזכרתי. בתעלומות מעשה בראשית, אמרו רבותינו ז"ל: "כֹּחַ מַעֲשָׂיו הִגִּיד לְעַמּוֹ", להגיד כוח מעשה בראשית לבשר ודם אי אפשר; לפיכך סתם לך הכתוב בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים. אם כן נתבאר מה שאמרנו בזה.

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    30. If I only you understood what science is and how it works maybe you wouldn't write such piffle.

      Similarly, (re your last sentence), if only you understood what Torah is and how it works maybe you wouldn't write such piffle.

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    31. @Modern_Orthodox: I don't read any posts as implying that they think that science is "...somehow sacred and infallible." That would be making a claim for science that science doesn't make for itself. Science never says it has all the facts or the Absolute Truth about anything. What they do claim about Truth is something like, "From what we have discovered so far, by observation and experiment, 'this' seems to be the way it works, this seems to be a scientific fact." What science is, is a continual process of refinement of knowledge, approaching ever-closer to the Absolute, Complete Truth.

      Scientific knowledge is, by definition, incomplete. That doesn't mean, however, that it is valueless or pointless. One can know an awful lot about a subject, be an acknowledged expert, and yet there could be things that even an expert hasn't learned, either because they just never ran into it or nobody has found out about it. But what we do know is useful and valuable and is valid knowledge and tells us true things about the world, even if we don't know every true thing. Even though we thought for a long time that F=ma, because every experiment we ran to test it showed it to be true. Well, it turns out it isn't exactly true. Along comes this German Jew with a wild haircut and says, "Yeah, well it only appears to be true because you can make precise enough measurements. However, if you go fast enough, then it becomes a rather inaccurate picture of things and the deviations can be measured." Still, as long as you go at way less than about 186,625 miles per second, it is a very good formula. It is true. (By the way, the experiment that shows F=ma doesn't hold at near-light speeds has been run and the results are as predicted by Einstein.)

      So, just because we don't have full information about anything, it doesn't mean that we don't know anything. What we do know, even if it is incomplete, is true.

      Science often uses logic and reason to fill in some of the blanks, using reason to connect things for which we don't always have the facts to connect them. You feel something cold, wet, gooey and sticky running down the back of your head. It is a clear goo with some yellow goo mixed in and you see some white, hard flakes. You got hit with and egg. Birds don't lay eggs in flight and so it wasn't one of them. You are in Central Park and there aren't any chickens around. You turn around and see some kids running away. You conclude they threw an egg at you. But, according to your statement, you can't say that because you only deduced that, you didn't actually see the egg thrown.

      Torah was written for people whose understanding of the world was simple. To be relevant and understood, the Torah had to be written in a simple manner. How in the world could the Torah say that the universe is full of suns, including our rather unremarkable sun, that are fusing hydrogen to make light and heat? Any little kid knows this and is comfortable with this. Tell that to Moses and he'd look at you like you were a raving lunatic. Torah was written in the language and terms of a different time. It is up to us to understand it according to our time and not keep our knowledge mired in a simpler time. If that means we have to reject a simple reading because it no longer makes sense, then that is what we have to do.

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    32. Emes means you seek truth regardless of your religious leanings or agenda.

      So tell us, when are you going to start seeking truth? You are blinded by your interpretation of Torah, and are not able to even consider that your interpretation is negated by reality. Instead, you dismiss reality. There are names for people like you, and none of them are nice.

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    33. @ Reardigan who wrote "Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist, I agree with your comment 100%, but at the same time, I have to say: "no duh." "Q,"let us say that this friend, the one who rejected geosynclinal theory the whole time, rejected it because he believed the minority of scientists who rejected it. Maybe privately he rejected it *partly* because of his religious beliefs, but he never revealed that that was a reason. Would you say, "Wow, buddy, it seems you were right."?"

      If the "friend" went with a minority scientific opinion that is a valid option as long as those scientific opinions are based on science and not religion. For example, if the minority group of scientists claims a widely accepted XYZ scientific theory is to be rejected because it conflicts with their understanding of their religious holy book(s)that is not a valid scientific option. However, if the minority reject XYZ because of scientific concerns or a particular philosophy of science no problem at all.

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    34. @ Modern_Orthodox - I agree that we can not prove 100% the world is older than 6000 years; but neither can we prove 100% it is older than one second. For example it is possible that our brains are being controlled by an all powerful monster that is deluding us. Nevertheless, we do not take such things seriously and also because of occam's razor. Think of all the things such a monster must do to cause every one of us to be deluded. Basically we live, act, behave as if we are not being deluded by the monster because is seems unlikely that such a monster exists. We really do not have evidence for this monster. That does not mean our senses record what is actually out there, because our senses and brains are not perfect and are limited in scope. But to deny something out there really exists is just too much.

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    35. "If the "friend" went with a minority scientific opinion that is a valid option as long as those scientific opinions are based on science and not religion." -- You can't quantify that. If it was based on religion, you'd never know, since the researchers keep it under wraps. It might be based on weak science, though.
      (Also, keep in mind that geosynclinal theory isn't just "a" theory; it was an overarching one -- compared to evolutionary theory in the quote I gave.)

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    36. @Reardigan - The minority scientific opinion would have to supply valid concerns. These concerns should not not based on religious books, even if the minority opinion was motivated by religious books.

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  8. Replies
    1. One word: waffles!

      ... wait... what are we playing, again?

      Delete
    2. @ Garnel wiki "The Piltdown Man was a paleoanthropological hoax in which bone fragments were presented as the fossilised remains of a previously unknown early human." AND THEREFORE WHAT ? Since then many more fossils supporting evolution of man from earlier hominads have been discovered, but even without that evolution has enormous support.

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  9. When I am sick, I go to my doctor because I know he is an expert in that sort of thing. He does a good job fixing me. When my car is sick, I go to my mechanic because I know he is an expert in that sort of thing. He does a good job fixing my car. What I don't do is take advice about car mechanics from my doctor or ask my mechanic why my arm hurts. Does anybody think I should be doing otherwise? I still respect both my doctor and my mechanic for what they can do and the fact that my doctor, a really bright fellow, can't fix cars is in no way disrespectful or diminishing to him. Indeed, he doesn't even claim to be able to fix cars.

    Why would anyone ask Chazal about matters of science? Are they scientists? Do they claim to be? Do they display any knowledge or expertise in science? Even more, why would anyone expect them to know very much at all about science because when they lived, no one knew very much at all about science. I think there wasn't even such a thing called "science" or "scientists". There was, I think, "natural philosophy" and "natural philosophers" who did similar things but I think the name change is significant.

    I don't have a problem when someone who clearly is not knowledgeable in matter makes mistakes about it, even more so when it is impossible to for them to have any knowledge about it. I just ignore their mistaken notions but pay close attention to them in those areas where they do have knowledge and expertise. I don't understand why this is such a hard concept for some people. I don't understand why they only apply it to Chazal and not to their doctor or mechanic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I don't understand why they only apply it to Chazal and not to their doctor or mechanic."
      Unfortunately you hit on the bitter truth about many "searchers" on this blog. There is an underlying goal to discredit the Torah, chazal and anyone who studies Torah.
      I follow the discussions here, because despite the snipping at chazal there are some valid ideas presented here that are certainly thought provoking.

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    2. M_O,

      You do more to discredit CHaZaL than the thousands of Christians who debated Jews over the centuries. You are turning them into infallible gods, and CHaZaL would have been horrified at the notion.

      If a wise man is one who learns from all, what does that make a man who learns from no one?

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    3. @ Modern Orthodox - You are being unfair to Rav Slifkin. It is my impression he is trying to salvage Torah and Chazal. But if you refer to some of the other people who post here, (whose names will not be mentioned), I can understand your position.

      Delete

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