A Little More about Snakes

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7 Responses

  1. DF says:

    All of us are guilty of hypocrisy and picking and choosing what we do and say, but usually there is some consistency to the inconsistency. Avi Shafran’s blurb, on the other hand, is a classic example of cherry picking, from one single scientific pronouncement (if that is the word), a conclusion that fits the narrative, and ignoring the ones that don’t. The study claiming a legged ancestor of snakes is fully predicated on belief in evolution and an Earth millions of years old. You and I can cite the various harmonization theories taught in Arachim Seminars, but last time I checked, mainstream rabbis were saying it was heresy to believe the world was anything more than 5700+ years old, and the entire Jewish calendar is based on that assumption. Such selective reading, in one very small study, strikes me as disingenuous.

  2. Isaac Moses says:

    It’s high time that the Torah world ceased assuming that science is evil atheism and started recognizing that as scientific models of nature grow more and more accurate and complete, they tell us more and more about God’s first major revelation to humankind (the Torah being the second) – the natural order.

  3. David Ohsie says:

    All of us are guilty of hypocrisy and picking and choosing what we do and say, but usually there is some consistency to the inconsistency. Avi Shafran’s blurb, on the other hand, is a classic example of cherry picking, from one single scientific pronouncement (if that is the word), a conclusion that fits the narrative, and ignoring the ones that don’t. The study claiming a legged ancestor of snakes is fully predicated on belief in evolution and an Earth millions of years old. You and I can cite the various harmonization theories taught in Arachim Seminars, but last time I checked, mainstream rabbis were saying it was heresy to believe the world was anything more than 5700+ years old, and the entire Jewish calendar is based on that assumption. Such selective reading, in one very small study, strikes me as disingenuous.

    Maybe Rabbi Shafran simply doesn’t agree that evolution is heresy? Why does he have to remain consistent with those who do? (And if he is being inconsistent, it that somehow worse than being consistently anti-science?)

    And the entire Jewish calendar is hardly based on the assumption of a young earth. The epoch of BAHARA”D (Year “1”, Sunday evening at 11:11:20PM) is a mathematical starting point. Since the length of the lunation has changed over time (and is in any case, just a mean), it doesn’t represent any actual astronomical occurrence regardless of the age of the earth. The calendar manages to work anyhow (with some drift from the intended correspondence with the lunar and solar years).

  4. Bob Miller says:

    I once came across a classical audio CD set that showed on its cover what looked like a serpent with legs. As I recall, this was a picture of an ancient Sumerian artifact.

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    I think some of the commenters miss the point. I’m going to do a more detailed write-up on the topic, but a simple reading of Torah SheBa’al Peh and Bi’chtav demand that the world look older than its actual age. Yes, demand. And as I’m sure David Ohsie knows, the calculation of B-H-R”D is (as explained by Rabbeinu Bechaya and others) a reference to a Molad Tishrei that never actually happened. [A question for David — R”D = 204. (204/1080) * 60 = 11.3333. So I understood that Molad to be 11:11:11.33 PM Sunday night. Did I do this wrong?]

    Evolution may be a farce, but fossilized bones are certainly real, and sometimes help taxonomists to understand how the world conforms with the Torah (there are six different species of camelids, all of which share a common fossilized ancestor appearing to be roughly 60 million years old and found in — of all places — South Dakota, helping them to realize that even beyond the common facial and other characteristics, all six are indeed that which the Torah classifies as a Gamal).

    With regards to the snake, it is even more obvious — the study wasn’t about fossil bones but “genetic and morphological data” leading to the conclusion that the ancestors of snakes had legs. That’s, of course, perfectly consonant with the Torah. While this fact *should* confound evolutionists, because every species with legs finds them a tremendous advantage over doing without them, they will assure us that whatever we see in the world was naturally selected to be that way, the evidence of every other species on earth notwithstanding.

  6. David Ohsie says:

    [A question for David — R”D = 204. (204/1080) * 60 = 11.3333. So I understood that Molad to be 11:11:11.33 PM Sunday night. Did I do this wrong?]

    You did it right, but that “60” is 60 minutes. A chelek is a 1/1080 of an hour, not of a minute, and equals 3 1/3 seconds. So 11.333… (or 11 1/3) minutes is equal to 11 minutes 20 seconds.

    The easier method in this case is 204/1080 * 3600 seconds = 680 seconds = 11 minutes 20 seconds.

    Unless I messed it up in some other way :).

    Evolution may be a farce, but fossilized bones are certainly real, and sometimes help taxonomists to understand how the world conforms with the Torah (there are six different species of camelids, all of which share a common fossilized ancestor appearing to be roughly 60 million years old and found in — of all places — South Dakota, helping them to realize that even beyond the common facial and other characteristics, all six are indeed that which the Torah classifies as a Gamal).

    So I guess then that Rabbit and Hare, both being lagomorphs, are also what the Torah classifies are Arneves.

    With regards to the snake, it is even more obvious — the study wasn’t about fossil bones but “genetic and morphological data” leading to the conclusion that the ancestors of snakes had legs. That’s, of course, perfectly consonant with the Torah. While this fact *should* confound evolutionists, because every species with legs finds them a tremendous advantage over doing without them, they will assure us that whatever we see in the world was naturally selected to be that way, the evidence of every other species on earth notwithstanding.

    When you write things like this, you confirm that you perhaps don’t understand the theory that you’re dismissive of. There is no particular set of characteristics which confer an automatic survival advantage. Evolution is not a bottom up phenomena from weak to strong. The survival advantage is conferred by changes that are useful in a particular environment (including the competing organisms) along with the other characteristics of the organism. And every additional “feature” (e.g. legs) have a cost to them as well, for example, in terms of weight and energy consumption. Snakes eat animals with legs.

    And whales descended from organisms that had legs and there probably lots of other examples (but I’m not a biologist).

  7. Isaac Moses says:

    “… ‘genetic and morphological data’ leading to the conclusion that the ancestors of …” is a description of a study of evolution of a particular [set of] species, based on inferences from the genotypes and phenotypes of existing species along with a general model of evolution of species that was developed based on countless observations of existing species along with the fossil record. If you take this study seriously, then you are taking evolution seriously. Such an assumption is probably a good one for anyone (myself included) who is not a professional biologist to make, based on general principles of humility and “Chochma bagoyim – taamin,” and also in appreciation of the Creator’s great gift to us a of natural order that is consistent enough to make inferences from (Tehilim 148:6).

    While holding such an assumption, well-founded as it is, suggesting simultaneously that “evolution may be a farce” doesn’t make any sense, and sounds, literally, like leitzanut – making serious matters into farces.

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