A Trip to the Museum, and a Trip to Faith
If you live in New York City and need to keep kids busy on a hot summer day, you go to a good museum and hope that the kids will take interest in at least some of the exhibits. Well, that’s what we ended up doing yesterday on day number two of the long Fourth of July break. Although the kids did take an interest in some of what we saw (especially an amazing IMAX film – almost always a sure winner), I came away with a mussar lesson that dovetailed with the end of this past week’s Parshas Ha-Shavua (for those of us in Chutz La-Aretz/outside the Land of Israel).
After viewing the IMAX film and being exposed to the most incredible manifestations of Nifla’os Ha-Borei (Wonders of the Creator), both in terms of breathtaking beauty as well as in terms of myriad complex mechanisms working in harmony and loudly declaring that Someone purposefully designed and structured them, as is obvious to any objective onlooker, and after visiting a fascinating exhibit about microbes, which detailed the unbelievably intricate and purposefully designed systems and worlds of microbes which inhabit every segment of every organism and perform a symphony of functions that enable every organism to grow and survive – something that can blow your mind to witness, as only a Being of very advanced intelligence, well surpassing that of humans, could create such sophisticated networks and devices – we went to the “space show”, expecting to be further bedazzled by the spectacle and details of endless constellations, which we knew were placed in perfect orbit by their Grand Designer.
Our expectations were very much frustrated.
Instead, the space show was devoted entirely to postulating how the galaxies must have formed on their own, or created themselves, to be more precise. We were presented with theories that have been proffered to resolve mysteries of the physical universe – theories that are so creative and that border on mental gymnastics, such that they give new definition to the concept of blind faith and belief in the fantastic. Novel, indemonstrable types of energy and forces were presented as fact in order to explain the appearance of a universe that originally contracted and then expanded; the existence of galaxies and heat millions of light years away from Earth was described as being the result of accidental, freak one-time events hundreds of billions of years ago. The emergence of life was likewise portrayed as the product of coincidence and happenstance, when a random explosion of unidentified energy gave birth to all. (It was indicated to us that based on this logic of accident, the existence of extraterrestrial life in other galaxies is a compelling assumption.)
The average man on the street already accepts much of this as absolute truth, due to these concepts being drummed into secular educational curricula and popular scientific media, but when taken objectively by one not already inculcated with these concepts, they come across as quite forced and even contrived.
Although we do not know exactly which forces and mechanisms Hashem generated and harnessed in His creation of the universe, and uncharted cosmic powers and energies, including those in the theories promoted by astronomers, may very well have been central to Creation, the fingerprints of the Divine unmistakably cover the universe, as each of its countless features evidences purposeful and profound synchronization and intentionally interconnected configurations and systems – yet it was entertaining to see the great and extreme lengths to which people will go to avoid recognition thereof, and especially to avoid recognition of a directed genesis of a mature, completed world ex nihilo. The theories presented in the space show were so fantastic and sounded almost mythical, such that one need not be an expert in refuting heresy or in much of anything else in order to sense that he can dismiss it all and walk away with disbelief. (When we arrived home, I asked a few family members if they knew the cause of an apparent spill in the kitchen which had occurred earlier in the day. Although it was clear that something overflowed as a person was preparing food, I momentarily suggested that the spill represented a process that occurred on its own. I fabricated a series of unlikely and implausible events that happened over an extended period of time which caused the food to pour itself onto a surface, as that was the only way to present a theory that avoided an intelligent force having directly caused the spill. My family members realized that my suggestion was quite unrealistic, as it denied the obvious and resorted to convoluted theories that demanded belief in a fanciful set of elaborate suppositions, all to avoid intelligent intervention. The nimshal [object of the comparison] was clear.)
Again, Hashem may very well have employed all of the theorized forces cited earlier in order to create the universe; we do not know, and we accept the fact that we do not know.
It is this concept of “we do not know” which forms the basis of our faith – a faith that is firm, but that is humble as regards God’s infiniteness and omnipotence.
As Rav Soloveitchik zt”l expressed in a 1977 shiur (in The Rav: Thinking Aloud on the Parsha – Sefer Bamidbar, p. 99-107):
Techeles and Lavan represent two approaches of man, to himself and to the world outside of himself. Lavan in Hebrew signifies white as a color, but it also signifies distinctiveness and openness. Lavan denotes rationality, simplicity, and truthfulness which is obvious. Something which is fundamental, which constitutes an elementary truth, is Lavan…
Techeles is just the opposite… Techeles resembles the firmament, the blue sea, the sea resembles the sky, and the sky resembles the Celestial Throne… Distance, inapproachability. Something which is beyond my reach. Something which is outside and beyond my control. The rakia (sky) is blue because it’s very distant; that’s how Chazal understood it. Very distant. I can never reach it. The sea is blue because it’s very vast, almost endless. I can tell you from my own experience. I experience infinity, endlessness, boundlessness, when I watch two things: the sea and the sky. Of course, the sky is more typical, more expressive. You observe the sky and the constellations of the stars, billions of stars, in terms of astronomical distances – simply your head begins to [feel] dizzy. And of course the Throne of God is above the world, beyond the universe. This is Techeles.
Whatever we cannot reach, whatever is outside of our control, whatever you don’t understand, whatever suggests mystery to us, is considered by Chazal, by our rabbis, the Techeles.
As a matter of fact, the Jewish approach to the world has always been not a uniform one, but an antithetic, ambivalent one. Because the world itself, reality surrounding us, and we ourselves, display two streaks. One streak is the world of rationality. It is a world well-organized, which follows the principle of cause and effect. There are no jumps in this world, and the human mind can grasp the world, can understand it.
On the other hand, the world is sometimes very perplexing. Science has made tremendous progress, fantastic progress, in the field of inorganic matter – physics, chemistry. The whole of technology is based upon our understanding of inorganic matter. As far as organic matter is concerned, science is very much behind. And all the scholars in the world – who placed man on the moon with such precision – are very helpless with regards to certain illnesses, to degenerative disease, very helpless…
In our private lives we have also the experience of Lavan and the experience of Techeles. There is not a single man in the world who did not live through or did not experience the rationality of the universe, and there is not a single person who was not confronted with the mystery and the puzzle of the universe. And this is exactly Techeles and Lavan.
If we Jews had the approach of Lavan to our own history, we would not fight for Eretz Yisrael now. From the standpoint of Lavan, the whole business of Eretz Yisrael is just a big hoax. What do you mean? You come into a land which was populated by Arabs, the land is adjacent to Arab land on all sides. There are about 100 million Arabs… It’s batel b’rov (numerically nullified). The Arabs are rich, we are poor. They control the wealth of the world because of their oil… and we are ready to fight. Because the land was promised to us by the Almighty 4000 years ago…
The covenant of 4500 years ago, the dawn of our history, who keeps such an agreement? People who have the approach of Lavan laugh at us; they don’t understand us…
Admitting the limits of human understanding and formulation, and realizing that there will forever be matters that are in the realm of the Divine Mystery and are beyond our grasp, betoken the humility that is expected of the Jew and bespeak the ultimate acceptance of a Master of the Universe.
May we forever draw near to Hashem and continue our quest to know Him as we lovingly grasp both the Lavan and the Techeles.
Sure, but are you saying they should stop wasting their time or just be a little more humble. I hope the latter because had the former held sway over the last 5 centuries we’d indeed be back in “the good old days” of bubonic plague and the like. There are those who believe that scientists are out to disprove the creator, I say even if so, keep up the discoveries(even for the wrong reasons)-they will only lead to him more quickly.
The latter. We desperately need scientific research, and it is the attitude only that I am addressing.
I see nothing inconsistent with the Big Bang theory and that Hashem is Borei Shamayim Vaaretz. I am not aware of anything inconsistent with the way science states the universe has developed and our beliefs. Scientific theories are based on consistent observations that can be explained by theory-as soon as a counterexample is shown the theory has to be adapted/changed. There is a lot of scientific evidence that is consistent with what you were exposed to in the museum. All of that does not affect one way or the other our ikrei emuna
Some years ago, as a grammatical exercise, I parsed out the letters of the Hebrew word “Braishis” in the order in which the letters appear. (I hadn’t, at the time, come across any source doing the same, so pardon me if I am stating what may be well known):
Braishis = in the beginning / bara = (He) created / raishis = first / ishi = (a) fiery / shis = foundation
…hmm…a “fiery foundation” for creation…sounds sort of like a “big bang” to me 😉
(interestingly, vocalized as sha’yis = thornbush…so again, hmm…a “fiery thornbush” as part of the blueprint for creation)
“What is a miracle in Judaism? The word “miracle” in Hebrew does not possess the connotation of the supernatural. It has never been placed on a transcendental level. “Miracle” (pele, nes) describes only an outstanding event which causes amazement. A turning point in history is always a miracle, for it commands attention as an event which intervened fatefully in the formation of that group or that individual. As we read the story of the exodus from Egypt, we are impressed by the distinct tendency of the Bible to relate the events in natural terms. The frogs came out of the river when the Nile rose, the wind brought the locusts and split the sea. All archaeologists agree that the plagues as depicted by the Bible are very closely related to the geographical and climatic conditions that prevail in Egypt. Behind the passages in the Bible we may discern a distinct intention to describe the plagues as naturally as possible. The Bible never emphasizes the unnaturalness of the events; only its intensity and force are emphasized. The reason for that is obvious. A philosophy which considers the world-drama as a fixed, mechanical process governed by an unintelligent, indifferent principle, may regard the miracle as a supernatural transcendental phenomenon which does not fit into the causalistic, meaningless monotony. Israel, however, who looked upon the universal occurrence as the continuous realization of a divine ethical will embedded into dead and live matter, could never classify the miracle as something unique and incomprehensible. Both natural monotony and the surprising element in nature express Gods’ word. Both are regular, lawful phenomena; both can be traced to an identical source…
In what, then, does the uniqueness of the miracle assert itself? In the correspondence of the natural and historical orders. The miracle does not destroy the objective scientific nexus in itself, it only combines natural dynamics and historical purposefulness. Had the plague of the firstborn, for instance, occurred a year before or after the exodus, it would not have been termed “with a strong hand” (be-yad hazakah). Why? God would have been instrumental in a natural children’s plague. Yet God acts just as the world ruler. On the night of Passover He appeared as the God of the cosmos acting along historical patterns. The intervention of nature in the historical process is a miracle. Whether God planned that history adjust itself to natural catastrophes or, vice versa, He commands nature to cooperate with the historical forces, is irrelevant. Miracle is simply a natural event which causes a historical metamorphosis. Whenever history is transfigured under the impact of cosmic dynamics, we encounter a miracle.”
Whenever I am quoted another opinion of the Rav ztl from Thinking Aloud I feel that the quotes mistake the musings of an older man to an assumedly unsophisticated talmid, for the Rav’s philosophic brilliance. Good drush, very often, philosophic insight, hardly ever. Science and religion is not something the Rav felt needed much in the way of deep thought. Even if one were to maintain the possibility of proving God’s existence, (my advisor’s advisor – the greatest logician of the 20th century supposedly believed he had done so at least towards the end of his (troubled) life), that God would hardly match up to the God in which traditional Jews believe.
Science tries to understand how; what known forces could have created what exists. I attended a lecture by Arno Penzias in an orthodox synagogue, he being a conservative Jew, who received the Nobel Prize for validating the Big Bang. In the Q&A, person after person pestered him about what the Big Bang says about the existence of God, something to which he carefully avoided responding. On the way out, he remarked to me “didn’t anyone notice my yarmulke.” It was emblazoned with the passuk from Hallel – zeh ha’yom asah ha’Shem nagillah ve’nismihah voh.
From R’ Slifkin’s transcription of The Rav:
The foundation on which our emunah rests is Briyat HaOlam… ex nihilo, yesh me’ayin. You see here we are at loggerheads… from antiquity, with Greek philosophy, Greek science. We are still at loggerheads with modern science. There is no way to somehow, to try to eliminate that conflict, or to try to reconcile it. There is no reconciliation and I will tell you quite frankly that I’m not worried and not concerned that there is no reconciliation. Because, science absolutely has no right to make a certain statement about briyah. We believe in creation ex nihilo, which means that there was nothing before, there was only HaKadosh Baruch Hu… We had a lot of trouble with Greek philosophy… We were confronted many times with those who try to deny briyah yesh me’ayin. We are in the same situation and the same condition nowadays. No matter, whatever, it’s completely irrelevant what theory of evolution science accepts – whether the big bang theory, or the instantaneous birth of the universe, or it is the slow piecemeal emergence of the universe, whether it is the emergent evolution or the instantaneous so-called birth of the universe. But science will always say, as far as matter is concerned, particles were always here. Of course, science has no right to say anything, because it is not a scientific problem. It is a metaphysical problem. And in my opinion, it is just as good as the opinion of Einstein about everything. But again we are still at loggerheads… We still have something which the goyishe world has not understood. Yesh me’ayin! Yesh me’ayin is our Jewish heritage… HaKadosh Baruch Hu created everything from nothing.
The Rav is talking about science out of control. No scientist worth he salt will speak of what caused the world to come into existence or its eternal existence, absent something concrete that provides an indication (one way or the other) subject to a predictive test. To date, that has not happened AFAIK.
Mathematicians have tried to create models to describe what existed prior to the Big Bang; but that is model building, not yet science. If science was able to demonstrate the eternal existence of matter, I assume we would have to deal with that then. IMHO, that would not mean that belief in God is in jeopardy, something Rambam already addressed.
There are numerous scientists who cross the line from scientific research to doing battle on behalf of “scientism” against “creationism”. IIRC, CR J Sacks engaged in more than one such debate.
“Whenever I am quoted another opinion of the Rav ztl from Thinking Aloud I feel that the quotes mistake the musings of an older man to an assumedly unsophisticated talmid, for the Rav’s philosophic brilliance.”
Often musings not intended to be made public. There is a separate issue of quoting someone after he sadly had begun to go down.
Good drush, very often, philosophic insight, hardly ever. Science and religion is not something the Rav felt needed much in the way of deep thought.
““Whenever I am quoted another opinion of the Rav ztl from Thinking Aloud I feel that the quotes mistake the musings of an older man to an assumedly unsophisticated talmid, for the Rav’s philosophic brilliance.”
Often musings not intended to be made public. There is a separate issue of quoting someone after he sadly had begun to go down.”
There is absolutely no proof that the Divrei Torah in the Thinking Aloud Series which encompass the years from the 1950s through the 1970s were ever expected to remain not disclosed to the public. I think that you owe the author an apology for your characterization of the author as an “assumedly unsophisticated talmid.”
Furthermore, the Thinking Aloud Chumash series consists of **public** shiurim, a great many of which also appear in other collections of the Rav’s shiurim. The Rav delivered these all to the public.
Rabbi Grodimer I have read some of the series and there is some material in there that the Ravs statements appear to contradict what the Rav did. This problem has been noted by others much more knowledgeable than I about other works by others much greater than I.This is a general problem in much of the secondary works that attribute material to the Rav. It is very difficult to take a speech and interpret it in context. A general comment-it is certainly difficult to quote part of the Ravs speeches, statements etc and state that is what the Rav believed-that applies to all works that claim the Rav believed x,y, or z or told me x,y or z when the statement is contradicted by the Ravs actions or what he permitted lemaaseh during his lifetime.
I believe one should remember what I believe what I read in another blog a few years ago about how the Rav before his his first article in English was puiblished kept telephoning for last minute changes. IIRC Tradition printed corrigenda of printing mistakes for the Ravs articles after the Rav edited draft after draft.
The general comment is independent of the 1977 date quoted.
Your point is well taken, but these are complete, first-person (the Rav speaking) shiurim, not interpretations.
The Rav gave many “public” shiurim during his lifetime.He chose to publish very few of them.
Mycroft: Unless I misunderstand you, your point is that the transcripts of these public shiurim should not be used as primary source materials reflective of the Rav’s positions, as he did not edit and commission their publication.” (The right to publish them, noted at the end of your comment, is a Choshen Mishpat question that does not impact the validity of the materials.)”
I suspect in addition to Choshen Mishpat considerations -for those who treat the Rav as their Rebbe there may be other halachik issues of doing with ones Rebbes shiurim what he would not have wished to do-but I defer to halachik experts and ethical experts-remember the Rav Halacha is a floor not a ceiling of proper behavior.
“If this is correct, that the verbatim transcripts of the Rav’s public shiurim should not be taken to necessarily reflect his considered positions, then the attendees of these same shiurim likewise should not take them with as much seriousness as to their authoritativeness in terms of the Rav’s positions. In fact, since the Rav never issued an edited, written ruling against the Rabbi Rackman Hafka’as Kiddushin beis din, should we assume that his public shiur dedicated to opposing that beis din and position should not he taken as the Rav’s final opinion on the matter, and that in theory, he might have in the end been open to the Rabbi Rackman approach?”
Re the Ravs position on Rackman hafkaat kedushin I would have been confident that would be the Ravs approach even if he never gave that speech. A couple of decades earlier the Rav after long thought did not agree with the proposal to have future kiddushin al tnai so that agunot would not happen with future kiddushin thus a fortiori if future kiddushin couldn’t be done al tnai certainly past kiddushin wo the tnai couldn’t routinely be invalidated. Another psak of the Rav from before this time was the Rav paskening in a case of a couple being “converted” to Judaism by a Reform Rabbi, subsequent marriage being performed by Reform Rabbi-couple civilly divorced-the Rav ruled that the women could not get married wo a get. The Rav was not willing to be mistaref the potential of the woman not being Jewish with RMFs heter. Clearly, the Rav rejected RMFs heter thus certainly would reject a similar Rackman approach.Thus, on the basis of his constant prior actions the speech is consistent with his beliefs. One should always be very careful of taking anyone speech and assume it represents the Ravs viewpoint-one must always read them in conjunction with other actions of the Rav.
Shiurim are an especially suspect source of the Ravs thoughts-it is certainly possible a shiur may represent a chakira-Briskers are very good at chakiras. The chakira may not represent the Ravs view in practice.
I do not mean to sound disrespectful; I am merely illustrating how difficult your position seems to be
Mycroft: Thank you for the elaboration. We really don’t disagree. Of course, no one would (or should) pasken based on shiur notes or the like, while at the same time, the ideas expressed by the Rav in his shiurim reflect his general positions and are important learning tools, even if the Rav may have expressed different ideas on different occasions.
The Rav made public what he wished to make public after editing. His drafts and comments were not intended to be put out in writing. He wrote much in his lifetime with editing of many drafts before being published.
But many of the Rav’s shiurim were transcribed after his passing and in the years shortly prior, when he could not edit them. According to your approach, the shiurim published by Rabbi Schachter, Rabbi Reichman, Rabbi Genack, Rabbi Avishai David, Dr. A. Lustiger, and half a dozen others, including senior staff and talmidim in hesder yeshivot, should not have been published. Can you please explain if I misunderstand you? Also, when a person delivers a public address, it is understood that the contents will be shared and often widely disseminated. I see no reason for that not to apply here as well, as these shiurim were delivered mostly to large gatherings, such as RIETS Rabbinic Alumni, RCA, etc.
IMO, you are improperly including and conflating taped shiurim, etc, and videos which were available to anyone willing to spend the money with “drafts and comments.” There is neither a Tzaavah, a statement from RYBS in his lifetime nor a court order or judgment that prohibits any of the taped shiurim , many of which of have been transcribed in verbatim form from being distributed in any format to the public. Stated differently, you are merely expressing a preference for what RYBS published in his lifetime. That’s your preference, but don’t claim that RYBS expressed a preference as to what was to be published, when no such preference exists or has ever been found to exist.
But many of the Rav’s shiurim were transcribed after his passing and in the years shortly prior, when he could not edit them.”
The obvious question is if the Rav would have approved of the action-why did they not do the transcription while he was active-certainly Rabbi Schachter, Reichman, Genack were well known as great talmidim in the 60s in YU. If it would have pleased the Rav why the wait.
“According to your approach, the shiurim published by Rabbi Schachter, Rabbi Reichman, Rabbi Genack, Rabbi Avishai David, Dr. A. Lustiger, and half a dozen others, including senior staff and talmidim in hesder yeshivot, should not have been published. Can you please explain if I misunderstand you?”
It is not clear that they should have been published. On one hand they are all a good secondary source for divrei Torah -OTOH some of the writers by selection process can cite certain lectures which are misleading if not read in conjunction with ideas that contradict certain aspects of the Rav. Assuming that the Rav did not want them published is it right for talmidim to go against their Rebbes wishes?
“Also, when a person delivers a public address, it is understood that the contents will be shared and often widely disseminated. I see no reason for that not to apply here as well, as these shiurim were delivered mostly to large gatherings, such as RIETS Rabbinic Alumni, RCA, etc.”
It is an interesting question who has the right to publish speeches given by the speaker. The speaker, the institution paying the speaker? Do I have the right to publish and sell a book of collection of speeches made by professors in the University, by Supreme Court Justices, by those on YouTube. I don’t know. Any intellectual property lawyers with an opinion.
Mycroft: Unless I misunderstand you, your point is that the transcripts of these public shiurim should not be used as primary source materials reflective of the Rav’s positions, as he did not edit and commission their publication. (The right to publish them, noted at the end of your comment, is a Choshen Mishpat question that does not impact the validity of the materials.)
If this is correct, that the verbatim transcripts of the Rav’s public shiurim should not be taken to necessarily reflect his considered positions, then the attendees of these same shiurim likewise should not take them with as much seriousness as to their authoritativeness in terms of the Rav’s positions. In fact, since the Rav never issued an edited, written ruling against the Rabbi Rackman Hafka’as Kiddushin beis din, should we assume that his public shiur dedicated to opposing that beis din and position should not he taken as the Rav’s final opinion on the matter, and that in theory, he might have in the end been open to the Rabbi Rackman approach?
I do not mean to sound disrespectful; I am merely illustrating how difficult your position seems to be.
To clarify he published a lot in his lifetime but spoke publicly a hundred times a year or so, Maimonides-Saturday night, Moriah during the week. Not including shiurim at YU, Sunday morning in Boston. Many others-conventions, public addresses etc.
“Stated differently, you are merely expressing a preference for what RYBS published in his lifetime. That’s your preference, but don’t claim that RYBS expressed a preference as to what was to be published, when no such preference exists or has ever been found to exist.”
The Rav in his lifetime chose what would be published-those were his preferences. He gave many speeches-Confrontation,Lonely Man of Faith for strters were published. Many others weren’t
imho one must take any single individual statement of R ‘YBS in the context it was given and in relationship to his lifetime of work. See R’ Sabato’s interviews with R’ Lichtenstein on the Rav’s “lack of Consistency” being due to sensitivity to context and willingness to rethink to get to the emet
imho one must take any single individual statement of R ‘YBS in the context it was given and in relationship to his lifetime of work. ”
The posthumous books reflecting on what the Rav ztl said or wrote cover a wide range. Some come from individuals his children have selected to publish what he did not, most often from manuscripts as opposed to the non-written word. The written word often contains its context; the unwritten word rarely does.
I can attest that when asked a sheailah during sefirah about going to the opera, the Rav said (with a broad smile) in quick succession, “the question is going to the opera altogether” and “who is singing?” One would be hard-pressed to determine his psak to a student from those quotes or even the overall context.
So in general, oral traditions carry less credibility. Even unpublished written works must deal with why they were not published by the Rav. (My own guess is some the Rav considered some not up to his standards (he was a Brisker!!), others not yet completely finished and yet others a lower priority than his multitude of other responsibilities, etc.)
Among oral traditions, lomdus and hanhagot are better than drush, public is better than private, recorded is better than not, complete pieces are better than snippets, etc. In every case, the author is important. Once shown to have biases (a list that each of us forms) I trust anything from that author only if it tends toward lomdus and hanhagot, even above the halakhic and certainly above the haskafic or philosophical. Further, the nature of the author’s expertise, relationship with Rav and the field of discourse matter greatly.
I read enough of the first volume of “Thinking Aloud” (before I returned it) and heard enough from some very close to the Rav, to never touch anything from that author again. Fortunately, I have had (much) better material to read.
Relative to comments above, reading Prof. Kaplan’s book on the Rav’s lectures on the Moreh, read like the Rav was speaking, my bias. (Also admirable IMHO, the author did not defend aspects of the Rav’s viewpoint that are in conflict with current views that are considered more accurate.) That said, Mycroft is correct, it is Prof. Kaplan’s viewpoint on what the Rav was saying. Those who want to test Prof. Kaplan’s unique skill in capturing the Rav’s style, read his and the other English translation of Kol Dodi Dofek.
There are many instances of talmidim publishing Chiddushim, ShuT , etc after the Petirah of an Adam Gadol. Here are some obvious cases-The Chiddushei R Chaim al HaRambam were definitely published after the Petirah of RCS as were the Chidushim of both RMS and R Velvel Zicronam Livracha. More to the point , it is well known that the sons of the Gra were the editors and publishers of the Biur HaGra on SA. In many Maesectos, as the SE emphasized, the Tosfos HaRosh go a long way in unlocking what the Baalei HaTosfos on the blatt are explaining. Yet, noone views any of these works as second rate because they were not published in the lifetime of their author, or they are citing and explaining the Divrei Torah of their rebbe.
Steve Brizel, of course the works of those publishing unpublished works are highly non-uniform. Chidushei R Chaim ztl carefully selected from hundreds of his chiddushim, choosing, IMHO, his most stable ones. The Gra’s comments are on occasion unclear, reflecting its writers conscious decision NOT to add (explanations) to what was written. There are many famous examples; my favorite is one where the Rav ztl and RMF ztl say X as a davar pashut and the CI ztl and the MB say Y, X and Y being totally at odds. The Tosfot haRosh, do not claim to be otherwise.
on the other hand, there are examples of talmidim possibly misinterpreting their rebbe.
as I said, 1) you have to know about the author and 2) lomdus is a less contentious area than drush. I dare say in the cases you cited the authors have never been suspected of an agenda and the areas covered are either lomdus or more abstract halakhic principles and positions.
I practically grew up in the American Museum of Natural History, which is the museum I presume you are referring to. (Why not mention its name?) I remember that some of the IMAX films that focused on some aspect of North American geography- the Grand Canyon, say, or Niagara Falls- would begin with a scene of some Spanish or French explorer falling to his knees and praising God upon first seeing such an awesome sight of nature.
There’s an important lesson to be learned there, and I learned it. That said, I know my parents weren’t 100% comfortable- after all, it wasn’t exactly our God they’re praising in those scenes…which perhaps should serve as a small counterweight to this article. You live in a Christian country. Do you really want the public museum telling you how to feel religiously? (Those same movies often included a healthy dose of Native American paganism as long as they were at it, which of course in today’s age is even more likely to be pushed than Judaism, Christianity, *or* science.)
That said, I can’t really agree with the thrust of this article. It goes without saying that nature should fill us with an awe of God. But that’s not the *job* of the public museum of science. Its job is to tell you science, period. If the lack of God in that narrative makes them seem a little too self-assuredly secular, well, that’s an expected result. But I don’t really want my hard science resorting to the old “and then God steps in” joke. L’havdil, I don’t want my Torah discussing the minutiae of DNA in the middle of the Creation narrative, or taking a few pesukim to go off on Neanderthals before getting into Adam and Chava. That’s not the *Torah’s* “job,” so to speak. Again, we can and should reconcile, but there are some places they should stay separate.
Mycroft wrote in part:
“Rabbi Grodimer I have read some of the series and there is some material in there that the Ravs statements appear to contradict what the Rav did. This problem has been noted by others much more knowledgeable than I about other works by others much greater than I.This is a general problem in much of the secondary works that attribute material to the Rav”
The shiurim and Divrei Torah in the Thinking Aloud series are verbatim transcriptions. Let’s be intellectually honest-your preference is for what RYBS published in his lifetime. Please identify who you are referring to when you assert that this “problem has been noted by others much more knowledgeable than I about other works by others much greater than I.”
You refer to many works about RYBS as secondary in nature? Would you include a recent book based on a student’s notes on RYBS’s lectures on the MN as primary or secondary? If you claim it is a primary work, please explain why-especially if it was not based on RYBS’s own notes ?
I will not identify my sources-some I have spoken to, some may even fairly have discussed that issue while refusing to solve it on YU Torah shiurim. I will not give them the kiss of death by publicly referring to those currently on RIETS/YU faculty. They feel uncomfortable raising the issue-but do in terms after referring to what certain people quote the Rav but then disclose to talmidim- words similar to you should be aware that theRav is a Ish Halacha and we have reliable info that he did x or y which is a kasha on what Rav Z quotes him as-and I’m not going to get into the apparent contradiction.
RYBS was not a particularly pure Ish haHalakhah. A true Ish haHalakhah would not have written a hachkafic work like “Ish haHalakhah”!
On the other hand, he was quite close to one. His regular shiurim in the yeshiva did not reflect the difference. And then we have his self-admission that for decades he wondered what the value of nevu’ah would be if you are not allowed to derive halakhah from it. To anyone who didn’t grow up among anshei hahalakhah, the need for mussar shmuessin would be obvious and not take years to cross the mind.
“We were presented with theories that have been proffered to resolve mysteries of the physical universe – theories that are so creative and that border on mental gymnastics, such that they give new definition to the concept of blind faith and belief in the fantastic.”
I’m a little surprised at the anti-intellectualism of this statement. There are lots of things that science has discovered to be true that would otherwise strain credulity. If someone is flying at 100,000 miles per second in one direction and someone else is flying at 100,000 miles per second in the other, it is “obvious” that they will pass each other at 200,000 miles per second, yet they don’t.
To take another simple example more relevant to the history of Judaism, it is “obvious” that all objects in motion come to rest unless something is pushing on them. Throw a baseball or fire a cannonball and they come to stop. A person walking comes to a stop unless they continue to supply power and effort to keep going. In fact, the Rambam believed that the “unceasing” movement of the spheres is evidence for the existence of a God that keeps pushing them to rotate:
“This entity is the God of the world and the Lord of the entire earth. He controls the sphere with infinite and unbounded power. This power [continues] without interruption, because the sphere is constantly revolving, and it is impossible for it to revolve without someone causing it to revolve.”
Yet, Newton’s first law (principle of inertia) teaches us that this “obvious” view is completely incorrect.
So it is correct that for thousands of years, it was “obvious” that living things were shaped by purpose (Aristotle’s final cause). How else to explain the fact that each animal has precisely the tools it needs to live in its specific environment? The fact that science upsets this “obvious” fact is no more surprising than any other counter-intuitive scientific result, and makes it no less believable.
This would not be important except that the implication of the piece is that science and a Torah worldview are incompatible. This is a very harmful notion, IMO.
The article most definitely did not imply that science and Torah are incompatible. Its focus was rather on theories being formulated not by empirical fact but instead by a philosophy of aversion to the existence of a Creator or of intelligent planning of the universe. A frum physicist whom I know distinguished between this and factual science, as in this case, a postulate is accepted as fact, and the theorists then have to work backwards to create hypotheses that explain it, whereas in what he termed “real science”, the facts before us provide hard evidence upon which logical formulas are built.
Rabbi Gordimer, while you don’t give specific examples, your description implies that both Darwinism and the basic conclusions of cosmology (such as how stars evolve) are not “real science”. Unfortunately, these are considered “real science” based on “hard evidence” by the rest of the world. The result is that your description of the Torah worldview requires one to disbelieve a lot of “real science” as most people define it. I’m concerned about statements that imply “what everybody else considers hard science” and the Torah worldview are in contradiction because that is where the damage occurs.
Also, your objection that the “theories that are so creative and that border on mental gymnastics” is simply an anti-intellectual and anti-science argument. Lots of science based on “hard evidence” is like that and I gave a couple of very simple examples to that effect based on undisputed “real science”. Giving license to reject science because it is very it very hard to for the layman (in science) to comprehend is anti-intellectual. Some subjects really are so hard that they take years of specialized training to comprehend.
Finally, the “intelligent planning of the universe” is not objected to because it is impossible. It is objected to for two reasons:
1) “Intelligent planning of the universe” is not a specific theory which can yield useful predictions. Thus the theory cannot neither be verified or used to explain any phenomena which cannot be explained without such a “theory”.
2) As a result, “Intelligent planning” is effective a “God in the gaps” argument. It doesn’t tell us anything about how the world works; it is simply a synonym for “I can’t explain that phenomenon in terms of more basic theory”. Give the track record of filling in such gaps, it seems clear that positing that X, Y, or Z can only be explained by a God in the gaps is not proven approach.
Without getting excessively entangled into this comment thread, it’s worth pointing out that what David calls “real science” is something which scientists themselves admit is biased speculation, based upon rejection a priori of the involvement of any Intelligent Designer.
Two quotes. First, Dr. Robert Jastrow, first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee — author of “G-d and the Astronomers” — and an Agnostic:
There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause.
Second, Dr. August Weismann, whom many consider second only to Darwin himself among early evolutionary theorists:
We are obligated to accept the principle of natural selection because it offers the only explanation of a diversified natural living world, without our having to assume that it was created by a force that desired it and created it intentionally.
When you rule out G-d a priori, your results are no longer “hard science” but a declaration of faith couched in scientific language.
As you suggest, we can go on and on here, so I’ll just point out two reasons why your argument reflects ignorance of how science works:
1) You quote some non-scientific statements by scientists. Since the evidence for Darwinism or any other scientific theory is completely independent of the opinions of scientists, these quotations are irrelevant. Moreover, if we discovered today a letter from Darwin indicating that he had fabricated all of his evidence in order to support a crusade against religion, it would not have any effect at all in the validity of Darwinism, since is it fully supported by mounds of evidence that is independent of anything done 100 years ago. Your arguments are ad hominem, in that they talk about (some) scientists and not science. If there is something in the actual evidence that can disprove Darwinism, publish it and a Nobel Prize is yours.
2) No science of any sort accepts the explanation “God made it happen”. The reason is not anti-God, but because “God made is happen” yields no testable predictions and is not a scientific theory that gives any insight as to why X happened instead of Y.
In fact, everybody in the world including you accepts this. If the plumber tells you that there is water in your basement because God willed it, you would not pay the plumber. Same for a doctor who told you that he can’t treat you because God willed your condition. In both of those cases, you probably agree that God willed it, but the question is, by what mechanism did He will it, and can we make alterations to prevent that mechanism from doing more of the same. God’s will provides no extra understanding here on the scientific level, even if it provides moral comfort and a philosophical worldview. Incidentally, the statements of Rav Soloveitchik that I quoted above align quite well to this reality.
I would add that what I wrote above is well understood by anyone who understands science. Therefore, the arguments that you give just go to reinforce the false notion that one cannot accept science and religion.
Is it your position that people who go to leading schools of engineering remain ignorant of science? It seems an odd position for you, in particular, to take.
Your first numbered paragraph is a non sequitur. You prove this to be true with your second paragraph.
Correct application of the scientific method requires that no theory be discarded a priori. The data determine whether your hypothesis is correct, not the implications of the conclusion. The first step of the scientific method is to ask a question, not to claim to know the answer.
Weismann’s statement by no means applies to him alone. He was describing the school of thought, which you have further explicated. It operates on the assumption that there must be a naturalistic explanation for how we got here: “G-d made it happen” is a non-option, discarded a priori. Once the intellectual blinders are firmly in place, they then know some other theory *must* be true, even if there is insufficient evidence. This isn’t the place to describe your “mounds of evidence”, but the bottom line is that this is nonsense: there is no evidence of macro evolution. No lab scientists have made it happen or observed it happen; neither has anyone else.
Neither is there a valid theoretical model for how we jump from one stage to the next on the evolutionary chain — punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism both come with questions no one can answer.
The counterpart to what Rabbi Gordimer’s professor friend called “real science” is what others call “deep theory” — speculation that wanders far beyond the realm of the data we have collected, and are able to collect. In that realm, few of the theories can be tested, and evolution is an example. We cannot look at and test models of evolution because there are no observed samples from which to work, any more than “G-d made it happen” can be tested for the future.
That doesn’t mean “G-d made it happen” is an irrelevant conclusion. Hypothesis: the Revelation at Sinai happened. Now, millions of Jews have believed throughout history that their ancestors encountered Him at Mt. Sinai. This alone is no proof — but there is a mountain of other, relevant data. Humanity has developed and propagated millions (or perhaps “mere” hundreds of thousands) of myths people believed at various times, giving us a picture of the types of myths people will believe. These myths concern individuals, or large numbers of people in another location, situations in which independent verification is not possible. Myths quickly dissipate when large numbers of contemporaries are able to state definitively that they are false. And despite hundreds of religions and cults founded upon the idea that the original Jewish G-d changed His mind (ch”v), not one of these claims that He came back for a new Mass Revelation to even hundreds of people (much less millions) in order to Reveal His new, true version.
In the area of evolution, I will restate a point I have made before. I know many scientifically-trained Baalei Teshuva. We were all trained to believe the universe to be 15 billion years old, the earth 5 billion, life 3.5 billion, etc. DNA explains our taxonomy, and evolution explains how we got from one life form to the next.
Today, none of these BT’s, including myself, believes the fossil record or any other evidence supports that last assertion. All of us acknowledge the universe appears to be 15 billion years old, life 3.5 etc. — and thus we have no reason to lose our objectivity when it comes to evolution.
Atheists, on the contrary, have a extremely compelling reason not to be objective about evolution, precisely as Professor Weismann said. End story, and as I said, I don’t want to become overly entangled in this topic in this thread. I’ll probably post about this topic soon.
Just to bring on other such statement: “The average man on the street already accepts much of this as absolute truth, due to these concepts being drummed into secular educational curricula and popular scientific media, but when taken objectively by one not already inculcated with these concepts, they come across as quite forced and even contrived.”
This argument is effective anti-science. It fails because “the average man” is not educated enough in the subject to decide whether or not it is valid. What seems “quite forced and even contrived” to the “average person” may nevertheless be true. The principle that science is based on is that we follow the evidence about how things work, not what common sense tells should be how things work.
Rabbi Oshie: I refer to theories such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy. These are theories that are part of the “official” discourse and are presented to audiences as fact, yet they are doubted by some scientists (please see a few of the many links on this, at the end of this reply), and they are not based on solid proof, but were instead introduced to suggest ways to explain the otherwise inexplicable. Even if there is some support to these theories, they remain debatable theories.
To be skeptical about these theories is not being anti-science or anti-intellectual; on the contrary, it is quite intellectual for one to be skeptical about theories that are unproven and that suggest novel solutions due to a refusal to acknowledge intelligent intervention, which would allow for far simpler explanations.
As I wrote, it may very well be that God used these mechanisms to create the universe. But we do not know, and presenting as fact that which is unproven, in order to avoid intelligent intervention and simpler solutions, is the point of my objection.
A few links: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2014/02/dark-gravity-dark-matter-might-not-exist-todays-most-popular.html, http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2014/12/20/new-doubt-about-dark-matter/#2fb52a14af08, http://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2016/03/24/could-dark-matter-not-exist-at-all/#7cab90ef1d3f, http://science.time.com/2013/02/26/cosmic-fuggedaboudit-dark-matter-may-not-exist-at-all/, http://phys.org/news/2014-12-alternative-explanation-dark-energy.html, http://www.space.com/8588-dark-energy-dark-matter-exist-scientists-allege.html,
Weaver: What I meant is that rather than being presented with objective science, we were presented with a series of unproven theories that pretty much diminish the inspiring wonder of the universe.
Dear Rabbi Gordimer,
First off, I’m just David, and don’t merit any special title.
With due respect to you as a Rabbi and someone who knows more Torah than me, your description of the science is wrong and doesn’t support your thesis. The qualitative evidence for Dark Matter is not all that difficult to understand and quite intuitive. The laws of gravity are well understood and can be used to create precise predictions about the motions of galaxies in a cluster as well as stars within a galaxy. It was found that stars far from the center of the galaxies are moving too fast under the assumption that all the mass is due to visible matter. (Same for galaxies in a cluster). That implies that there is unseen matter which then explains the motion of these stars (and galaxies). The amount of unseen (dark) matter can be measured in other ways (such as gravitational lensing) and is found to be consistent. (There lots of other supporting stuff that is too complicated for me to understand). This is the same method that was used to predict the existence and location of the unseen Neptune before it was spotted visually.
You wrote “The theories presented in the space show were so fantastic and sounded almost mythical, such that one need not be an expert in refuting heresy or in much of anything else in order to sense that he can dismiss it all and walk away with disbelief.” The basic theory of dark matter is not all that difficult to understand, and there are lots of complex stuff that is more difficult (like understanding the quantitative predictions which are the real support for such theories). On what basis can you walk away from this with disbelief other than anti-intellectualism? What is fantastic and mythical about inferring the existence of something that you can’t see based on it’s effects on other physical objects?
You are correct that there are some who propose that instead of positing Dark Matter, it is the theory of gravitation that must be amended. It appears that these theories don’t yet do as good job of explaining many observed phenomena including the Bullet cluster. One of the Forbes articles that you cited does a better job of explaining this that I ever could. Leaving that aside, how does the fact that some people have proposed other yet unsupported explanations support your thesis?
Finally, I don’t see what a Grand Designer has to do with any of this. Are they supposed to throw up their hands and say “Well the stars and galaxies are not moving according the laws of graviation assuming that all matter is visible, so it mus be that God is making a miracle and we should stop investigating”?
Same applies to dark energy. To begin with dark energy is not a specific theory, but set of possible theories to explain the surprising fact that the expansion of the universe is accelerating (a surprising result which won a Nobel prize precisely for upsetting prior expectations; this in itself shows that science is not based on dogma).
You are certainly correct that the reason behind the accelerating rate of the expansion of the universe is an open question. This is not a secret. Here is some standard text from the NASA dark energy website:
“[T]he expansion of the Universe has not been slowing due to gravity, as everyone thought, it has been accelerating … Theorists still don’t know what the correct explanation is, but they have given the solution a name. It is called dark energy. More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the Universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery.”
Again, the explanation is pretty intuitive and not strained at all. If the universe’s expansion is accelerating, that takes energy, so there is something out there supplying that energy. I’m sure that explanation doesn’t do justice to the more detailed understanding that those who know General Relativity will give, but I don’t see the mental gymnastics.
Thank you for the enlightening message and elaboration.
I do not argue with what you present. My point is that to resort to Dark Matter and Dark Energy – theories which are not settled and which relate to matter and gravity – as well as other as of yet indemonstrable theories, in an effort to compellingly demonstrate how the world created itself, represents a forced agenda to avoid Intelligent Design that justifiably should elicit skepticism.
Have a good Shabbos.
Dear Rabbi Gordimer, thank you very much for the discussion and Good Shabbos.
Thank you very much, and have a great Shabbos as well.
“Our expectations were very much frustrated.”
Really? Where you actually expecting the American Museum of Natural History to be plastered with praises to God? It’s a science museum.
Dr Bill-have you read any of the Nororas HaRav series ? Those are verbatim transcriptions of the shiurim as are the Divrei Torah in the Thinking Aloud series. A secondary source IMO remains a secondary source.
Yes. Yes, but I rather listen to the tape of a shiur. Were Noraot haRav private conversations? the ones in the ONLY volume of Thinking Aloud I read were. A distinction WITH a difference.
Noroaos harav were all public shiurim
read again, that is what i said; those shiurim are even taped. the answer to the question is OBVIOUSLY YES!!!! that what is different about thinking aloud.
You compared apples and oranges!!!! Transcripts of public shiurim are almost as good as tapes, where i can also capture the Rav ztl’s tone and inflections.
Dr. Bill: The Thinking Aloud Chumash series is the same exact thing – all direct recordings of public shiurim. That is why they are such a good resource.
can’t speak for Dr Bill-“but suspect knowledge of “Thinking Aloud Transcripts of Personal Conversations with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik By Rabbi David Holzer Published by the author 359 pp. No price indicated Imagine if you were Albert Einstein’s chauffeur or Harry Truman’s or some other famous person’s. And imagine that while you drove him about, you were able to ask this famous person whatever questions you wanted. And imagine he gave you permission to tape your discussions with him. What a valuable document you would have for future historians to study. This is the premise behind Rabbi David Holzer’s book. For many years he served as the assistant and the driver for Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Along the way, he was able to ask the Rav many questions – not only about Jewish law but about his worldview. And now he has edited and published the transcripts of these conversations. I have heard that some of the Rav’s disciples have objected to the publication of this book. They feel that it is a violation of the Rav’s privacy to record and reveal the opinions he expressed in casual conversations”
influences his comments.
Rabbi Gordimer, once an author loses my trust, given the vast number of books i will never get to read, his join that list.
I agree they are a very good source-they are not technically transcriptions-the asides are put in footnotes along with other clarifying info. It reads easier than a transcription. A marvelous job-worth reading. Still not in the authority of the Rav’s written works.
July 8, 2016 at 8:18 am
Rabbi Gordimer, once an author loses my trust, given the vast number of books i will never get to read, his join that list.”
I wonder how far Dr Bills logic goes-should one read tshuvot of a person who engaged in illegal activity? Should one disqualify information even if one believes it may be accurate because the source in other places violated confidences? American law frequently disqualifies probative info because of other reasons-halacha I believe would not allow a psak from someone who does not believe in Halacha no matter how knowledgeable. IMO issues worth considering
Mycroft, As a matter of course, I do not read tshuvot of those involved in illegal activity. However, if X is the best source of information on a particular topic of interest, if relevant to me, I will read, with caution, what he has to say. On rare occasion, known forgeries are extremely informative, though hardly authoritative; Besamim Rosh is a good example.
Rabbi Holzer is a different issue. granting the accuracy of the conversation, the nature of what the Rav ztl said to the author leaves me uninterested. Conversations with many other people appear more substantive.
Even accepting conversations are accurate, one does not know context and one certainly doesn’t have a complete record of transcript and thus does not know what was left out.
There is a much greater problem revolving around old age-we have a problem in dealing with it-mipnei seiva takum. The decrease in abilities in old age are evident to all and certainly in the sad case of certain illnesses that are more frequent in old age.
Nobel Prizes are often awarded for work done in the recipients 20s-may award 40 years later but for work done while younger.
mycroft, i completely agree. not without cause did members of the sanhedrin retire at 70. Towards the end of his life, RSZA ztl referred a difficult sheailah to a younger rov who could better appreciate the younger shoail. and as graduate student 45 years ago I was told that when Gauss was as old as you, he was already dead.
its relevance to the Rav is undoubtedly true. i was at the rav ztl’s last yartzeit shiur as he struggled heroically to deliver the shiur. I do not know how many knew what was occurring. given the intense pain he was in, he was given a strong dose of pain killers before the shiur which dulled his mind. He stubbornly waited (around one hour or so, but i may be wrong) for the pills to wear off and delivered the shiur in pain. This was about 4-5 years before he no longer gave shiur. As the late dr. wurzberger wrote, it is not just his brilliance but his piety that was a wonder to observe.
“and as graduate student 45 years ago I was told that when Gauss was as old as you, he was already dead”
“Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (/ɡaʊs/; German: Gauß, pronounced [ɡaʊs] ( listen); Latin: Carolus Fridericus Gauss) (30 April 1777 – 23 February 1855)”
If correct that would make you older than the oldest person in the world 77+45=122.
Gauss’s relevance to yahadus is that he developed a formula to convert dates between the secular and Jewish calendars see eg https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Mathematics_of_the_Jewish_Calendar/Gauss%27_Formula_for_the_Date_of_Pesach
I believe a couple of decades ago I read the few pages of his formula in the NYPL Judaica division.
Re the Rav sadly for years before the event you mentioned and before the time that Holzer had his discussions with the Rav there were people who noticed the Rav “wasn’t in his prime”.
mycroft, i am not that old and i obviously mixed up the name. galois perhaps.
In the 19th century, a theolog1an with Chabad semicha, said science teaches us how the world came to be, Torah teaches us how it ought to be.
Not sure why all the debate about whether or not the Rav is being fairly represented. In any case, the quotations don’t support any specific limits in science. All he says is that our current understanding of the Universe is always lacking and incomplete, and there always remains mystery. For example:
“On the other hand, the world is sometimes very perplexing. Science has made tremendous progress, fantastic progress, in the field of inorganic matter – physics, chemistry. The whole of technology is based upon our understanding of inorganic matter. As far as organic matter is concerned, science is very much behind. And all the scholars in the world – who placed man on the moon with such precision – are very helpless with regards to certain illnesses, to degenerative disease, very helpless…”
Is it conceivable that he intended that doctors should give up trying to cure degenerative diseases and that he was predicting that they would always be doomed to failure? Of course not.
If you insist on dueling quotes, then here we go from Halakhic Mind:
“When we speak of a conflict between philosophy and science, we do not have in mind a controversy concerning scientific data which philosophy would interpret in a manner alien to science. Modern philosophy neither pretends omniscience nor countenances the audacity to doubt in the least the validity of scientific statements. It is not inclined to repeat the fatal errors of the Hegelian school which attempted to defy the empiricist. Philosophy is well aware of the fact that it is impossible to derive scientific data from any a priori process of cognition. Nor is the issue between philosophy and science the problem of whether the scientist has the right to interpret phenomena in accord with his vantage point and method. The problem is, rather whether the scientist’s interpretation is to be exclusive, thus eliminating any other cognitive approach to reality.”
Rabbi Gordimer: you state “I do not argue with what you present. My point is that to resort to Dark Matter and Dark Energy – theories which are not settled and which relate to matter and gravity – as well as other as of yet indemonstrable theories, in an effort to compellingly demonstrate how the world created itself, represents a forced agenda to avoid Intelligent Design that justifiably should elicit skepticism.”
No. Cosmologists have come across a phenomenon that can’t be explained according to the know rules of physics. Rather than pause and say “here is gap in our knowledge, let’s stop here because the rest must be of divine origin.” scientists continue to press on. There is something causing a gravitational anomaly and some theories have been developed, e.g. dark matter. It’s not a “forced agenda” to avoid intelligent design! It’s a forced agenda to keep pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge.
Sam: No one is advising cosmologists to stop researching, but there is a certain mindset and set of assumptions that drives the theories. That was my intent.
Are you accusing scientists of intentionally trying to make anti religious ideas fit in-rather than attempting in good faith to develop solutions to problems. I fail to see how this effort one way or the other impacts belief in a bored olam. How God arranged creation is not a matter of faith-that God did create the world is a matter of faith.
I am saying that they are not being objective. These theories may be very true (so long as they do not undermine Torah belief), but they arise perforce due to the subjective beliefs of those propounding them. Consideration of creation ex nihilo is out of the question as even an option, as belief in Divine intervention is ruled out as even a possibility. Is that being fully objective?
Let me ask you: Let us presume that a certain archeological find pointed to a miracle, affirming a miracle in Scripture. Or, better yet, let us take a text in the Torah which states that a miracle occurred. And let us say that secular academic scholars proposed solutions which explained away the miracle – such as Grayzel’s portrayal of K’ri’as Yam Suf as a fluke of nature, not a product of God, or BCs’ theories about the redaction of the Pentateuchal text over time by various authors and editors, obviating Divine dictation to Moshe at Sinai. It is clear that these solutions flow from the disbelief in miracles and in Torah Mi-Sinai. Would you disagree with this statement? That is my point.
Objective is not the correct term-assumptions that one starts with must be considered. I disagree the issue is relevant to the nature of how the universe has been created. I see nothing one way or the other affecting my faith in Big Bang theory etc.
I agree with your point in discussing Torah-our world starts with the assumption that God revealed the Torah to us-university religion departments start with the assumption the Torah is solely the product of mans creative ability. Assuming Gods revelation to Moshe Rabbeinu Tochacha for example becomes prophecy fulfilled in churban bayis rishon, if man made Tochacha written after events of churban bayis rishon when people knew what happened. The Yeshiva is open about its assumption Torah Suva Kanu Moshe-the assumption of the university about all religions sacred books being the products solely of human endeavor is not usually so openly stated as an assumption.
Specifically regarding miracles stated in Torah-we believe because of our core assumption that we live our lives-the Torah is eternal and Gods word and true- those who start with a different assumption would come with a different answer.
Thus, we reject the narrative that other faith communities accept, thus reject their miracle stories-although there are at least 2 competing narratives that have a billion people accept their stories and the miracles that they believe in which we reject.
Noone is making any such accusation. Yet, one can and should note the moral neutrality of the scientific quest. The same nation that produced some of the world’s greatest physicists utilized many of them who deliberately chose not to escape to the US to try to develope atomic weapons and used every then au courant technological means to create the machinery of the death camps, all in the devoted service to and of the Third Reich.