Big Bang Theory star, Mayim Bialik, asks Jew in the City can science and religion work together in a Jewish framework? While there are some Orthodox Jews who believe in a literal account of the creation story, many of us hold that the events must be understood another way. RAMBAM, also known as Maimonides, stated in the 12th century that the creation account must not be taken literally in all its parts. This leaves room for concepts like The Big Bang Theory and even evolution to work within the Torah’s description of the seven days of creation. While people mistakenly believe that the Bible must be at odds with science, when you look at Jewish commentators throughout history, you can see how well the two subjects can work together. And every Jew should know that believing in science is not a reason to not believe in Torah.
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There is no substantive challenge to Biblical concepts of Creation in NOT positing a Big Bang/ or suggest “Fine Tuning”. Rambam and Aquinas (by abstraction), would agree with this, given both of them stated that evidence against Creation ex Nihilo would be reconcilable with faith – but neither of them subscribed to it, based on reason of their day and their estimation of their respective religious revelation’s authority on the matter of matter. See; Moreh Nevukhim II: 25 (for Rambam), and Carroll’s “Stephen Hawking’s Creation Confusion” (for Aquinas, available online). [moderator; you can lop off the Carroll citation, but it is not Christological – and also it puts it in a contemporary context with Hawking’s recent media coverage).
All the respct!!!
Where do the clones come into the picture?
The clones were just for fun!
alot of people don’t know but science is the only secular subject permitted to be srtudied on the shabbos because science REVEALS the handiwork of hashem, rather than disputing it.
Very enjoyable video – the special effects are great! One point in your video suggests that science does not even attempt to explain our feeling of awe at the wonder of the world as religion does.
That’s a nice idea, but I fear it isn’t giving science the respect it deserves! Science definitely attempts to explain emotional states, including “awe” and “wonder”.
For example, some scientists theorize that “awe” causes us to positively ponder things greater than our selves or immediate surroundings, thereby promoting collective and communal emotions which are adaptive to the societal stability of a human community.
In essence, societies with individuals who feel awe are likely to form stronger communities than those that don’t, and therefore have an advantage in the evolutionary sorting of emotional characteristics.
Also, I believe we can use our beautiful traditions to guide our lives, but if we must simply “search for other meanings” when the meanings within the Torah do not make sense, that is an acknowledgement that Torah can live in harmony with science only when it’s interpreted “loosely”.
I’m searching for the truth of the Torah, but why would Hashem give us the words of the Torah if we are to resign to our own interpretations rather than those of Hashem?
Our faith and history as Jewish people is beautiful, but I fear the tendency of many faithful people who have great minds to make special exceptions for the logical inconsistencies in the facts of their faith.
If the literal interpretation of something does not make sense given our factual evidence based knowledge, how do we KNOW that it is the truth on the whole? And if faith is based on feeling without the necessity of a few irrefutable supporting points, is it a safe thing for us to embrace?
Faith in the loyalty of our spouses, for example, is largely based on believing on things that are factual such as that our spouse has chosen to marry us and live with us. Of course, when our spouse is away from our eyes, it is “faith” that they are loyal, but also a faith supported by the aforementioned facts.
One could argue that the same sort of fact based evidence exists to support the “faith” of believing Torah is truth, but I have yet to find a reason to believe it to be anything more than my traditional heritage from a rich culture I am proud to be a part of.
However, I am forced to admit that the Torah is imperfect, and therefore, if it indeed is the word of G-d, much was lost in the transfer of this information to our ancestors and we must view it as a guide to be taken very loosely, and sometimes when stories of the Torah do not match science, it is okay to say that those are errors in the Torah, and not somehow a manifestation of our imperfect understanding of it.
Thanks for your comment, Yaniv. Of course science understands the how’s of our brains – what I was trying to get at was actually a quote from Kant: “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” It’s the “why” of the world that science doesn’t get. The feeling that overcomes man to search for purpose, to behave in a moral way.
In terms of why not take the Torah literally and use other interpretations – there’s an idea that the Torah was given with a written tradition and an oral tradition, so when I quote Maimonides for instance – I believe his non-literal understanding of the creation account comes from a tradition that dates back to Mt. Sinai. He’s not the only one who had such a tradition. If you read Aryeh Kaplan’s “Age of the Universe” (which you can see online here http://www.simpletoremember.com/faqs/Kaplan-SimpleToRemember.com.pdf) you’ll see that there was another rabbi from over 700 years ago that calculated (based on Torah sources) that the universe is 15 billion years old!
So why was the language in Genesis written as it was? One explanation is that it was meant to be understood by the people of that time and all future times, so it had to be symbolic and be true on many levels. I completely reject the idea that the Torah was “lost” along the way. It makes no sense for God to have done that. If it couldn’t be transmitted in a way that would be useful and meaningful, it doesn’t make sense that God (who knows the future!) would have bothered to get the process started at all.
Mayim, big fan, very big fan since you played the younger Bette Midler.
The problem is in, not interpreting the Bible literally. If we all did, we would see that it fits in perfectly with science. Allow me to explain.
It is assumed that because the Bible states the world was created in 6 days, that the Bible by all means is literally saying “within 6 24hr consecutive days” when it is not.
1) Exodus 20:11 states, “For 6 days God made the heavens and the earth.” it does not state “within” 6 days, i.e. 6 consecutive days.
2) Nor does it state these days were 24hr days. For It states ויהי “and it was” evening, ויהי “and it was” morning.”
Using the same word ויהי “and it was” for both evening and morning is literally stating it was simultaneously, i.e. at the same time. It does not state it was evening and “then” there was morning.
When we look at the world at any given time we will see it is always evening and morning somewhere on this earth. And there is nothing elsewhere in the Bible that indicates these were 24hr days.
Therefore, in hindsight, we can understand that the 6 Days are referring to 6 Eras.
As for Adam the farther of Cain and Able, the Bible does not states he was the first man. For it states that God created “The man” Adam being hebrew for man. Again, it is only assumed that the Bible is stating he was the first man when it refers to both as Adam.
Bottom line. If God wants us to believe that the world was created within 6 24hr consecutive days, and Adam the farther of Cain and Able was the first man, it would have stated so directly, and the scientific evidence would be there as well, instead of the other way around.
On the third day, G-d created the land vegetation. Then on the fourth day G-d created the sun. If these two consecutive events (clearly they were consecutive) were eras apart, how can the vegetation survive waiting for the sun? They can still live without a source for photosynthesis in 24 hour period but not in years. Anyhow, I believe Aryeh Kaplan has a better explanation to this seeming dilemma in one of his writings. Regarding dinosaurs, I still have to be convinced that “taninim gedolim” refers to them. Genesis mentioned about these as ” great sea creatures” or “sea monsters” or at least living in the sea. But the great majority of dinosaurs roamed and lived in the land and were mostly herbivores.
You are correct – Natan Slikin also deals with this in “The Challenge of Creation.”
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