Volume 15 Number 86
                       Produced: Wed Oct 19  0:31:06 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Creation and Science
         [Jonathan Katz]
Science and Creation
         [Yechezkel Schatz]
Shabbat and Wheelchairs
         [Arthur Roth]
Under pressure?
         [Joshua W. Burton]


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 00:21:44 EDT
Subject: Creation and Science

This may be a (relatively) unimportant point, but I feel that it must be
made: Anyone attempting to "answer" the "contradictions" between science
and creation should at least research both sides before suggesting an
answer. I.e., one should not just spout off an answer because it sounds
good, when there is no basis in fact for it.

Two recent statements have caused me to write this:

"Many other problems can be explained by the mabool...a pressure of
about 5000 meters of water covering the earth's surface could have an
affecton [the rates of 14-C radioactivity]."

This is a very nice statement, but absolutely unsupported by any current
scientific theory, or any scientific evidence. Scientists have never found
a method to appreciably change the radioactivity rates for atoms, and they
have studies the effect of pressure, temperature, among other variables.

2) regarding Prof Schroeder's theory which uses general relativity to
"explain" the difference between the scientific age of the universe and
the religious age - have any of the people advancing this claim actually
read Dr. Schroeder's book? I have, and although I don't claim to be anywhere
near an expert in relativity theory, I can say that his arguments didn't
convince me. I do not mean to imply that he is wrong, merely that since
I could not replicate or follow his results, I don't go around claiming
that he has "solved" the problem. 

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 241C
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: Yechezkel Schatz <lpschatz@...>
Subject: Science and Creation

Date: 18 Oct 1994 11:43:44 +0200
After I read Joshua Burton's posting I realized that, not being a physicist,
I may not have been very accurate in the way I presented my father's theory
on the mabul and C-14 measurements.  So I went home and checked the topic in
his book, and went to speak to him about it, and sure enough I did not do
justice to his theory on the topic.  However, before I admit that what I
wrote is scientifically wrong and stress the main issues in my father's
hypothesis, I would like to ask Joshua 2 questions:
1) you write: 
>We routinely use carbon in diamond-anvil high-pressure chambers, at
pressures a thousand times higher yet, and no one has observed any change in
the rate of carbon-14 decay.
*Have any similar expriments been done under high pressure with water over a
lengthy period of time, say half a year (as long as the mabul)?
2) you write:
>Heavens, we study the details of the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen fusion cycle in
massive stars, at pressures ten MILLION times higher than any pathetic little
water flood...and if the rate of C-14 decay were changed by a fraction of a
percent, the models would fail completely.
*What are these models? What if they do fail? (would they, for example force
us to conclude that the sun revolves around earth?)

And now I must explain what the main issue in my father's thoery actually is:
  In samples subjected to such high pressure in the presence of water for
such an extended period of time, we have the problem of selective leeching. 
This means that water could seep in to our sample, introduce contaminations
to the sample, and selectively dissolve and leech out one of the carbon
isotopes.  This would cause an alteration in the ratio of C-14 to C-12, and
therefore affect the calculation of any date prior to the mabul. 
This effect has to be experimentally tested (anyone out there interested in a
thesis topic?).

I would like to stress that C-14 measurements have been found to be
reasonably accurate (by validating them with archeological findings, for
instance) for dates until as early as the mabul, BUT dates prior to that
could be affected by the sampling problem.  Note that C-14 measurement take
us back to a maximum of about 50,000 years (a factor of 10, when compared
with the date of the mabul!)
  One of the main points here is that as a Jew I believe the bible to be a
much more accurate historical record than some of the contemporary scientific
calculations, which base themselves on a lot of unproven assumptions.  My
father's approach is to start out with the basic assumption that we can
accept the biblical chronology as accurate, and from there he moves on to
prove it, whether by reinterpreting passages in the Tanach, or by taking a
closer look at world history.  You would be amazed how well it pays off!  In
his book he covers all periods of biblical history and comes up with many
original, sometimes shocking theories.


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 1994 13:34:08 -0500
Subject: Shabbat and Wheelchairs

    A number of people asked me to find out more about the Rosh Yeshiva
(RY) who was wheeled by his talmidim in the streets on Shabbat without
an eruv.  Over the weekend, I spoke to one of the talmidim on several
different occasions to make sure all the details were clear to me.  What
I found out was, to me, rather unsatisfying, but I'll pass it on as
promised for what it's worth.
  1. The RY paskened only for himself only and not for anyone else.  He
had his talmidim wheel him ONLY BACK AND FORTH TO SHUL AND NOWHERE ELSE.
He listed a few possible heterim that COULD be relied upon, but on a
personal level (not as a psak) he rejected all but one.  The only one he
actually accepted for himself (which to me seems awfully farfetched) was
that in his case it was actually a matter of pikuach nefesh (danger to
life).  He felt that never going to shul on Shabbat would over time
create enough emotional stress and despair that it would actually kill
him.  He emphasized that this reasoning was particular to his own
upbringing, hashkafa, and emotional state, and that it would not apply
to too many other people.
  2. The RY apparently DID give a blanket heter for wheelchair-bound
people to transport themselves, if able, by gripping and rotating the
wheels or by other devices that may be built into the wheelchair which
operate mechanically rather than electrically.  The basis for this heter
is what I stated in my last post, namely that THE WHEELCHAIR IS REGARDED
talmid I spoke to said he had never heard this mentioned explicitly),
this would mean that both the person's house and his destination would
have to be wheelchair accesible via ramps, doors on the street level, or
some other means, because nobody else could carry the person into or out
of either location.  Alternatively, if the person could use something
such as a cane or crutches to manage just the distance from the inside
of the house to the closest wheelchair accessible location outside the
house, anyone would be able to lift him into his wheelchair once
outside, as this would entail less than the minimum distance which
violates the prohibition of carrying.
  3. The RY was apparently able to transport himself in his wheelchair,
but his progress in this manner would have been so slow as to render it
impractical.  It would have taken him hours each way to/from shul.  This
was his basis for a "heter" that he claimed had a halachic basis for
those who wished to rely upon it, BUT WHICH HE PERSONALLY REJECTED.  To
explain this "heter", we first need some background from fairly recent
     It was a widespread practice (in fact, almost universal, but there
were some exceptions) in Orthodox communities to carry children in the
streets on Shabbat 30-40 years ago.  In most cases, no distinctions were
drawn regarding the age of the child or the distance he was carried.
Despite its prevalence, this practice was in retrospect CLEARLY
incorrect, and it was based on a misinterpretation of a certain text
that states, roughly, that a person is regarded to be providing his own
support.  According to the RY, there are two opinions vis a vis the
CORRECT reading of this text:
  (a) Its meaning has no relevance to carrying on Shabbat and pertains
to some completely unrelated issue.
  (b) It means that one may carry a person (and regard the person as
interpretation, carrying can be used to alter the speed and/or
convenience of an act that would have been permissible anyway in another
(slower, less convenient) manner, but not to accomplish something that
could not have been permissibly done otherwise at all.  In particular,
even according to this interpretation, an infant could not be carried
any distance whatsoever.
     When the widespread mistake was "discovered", poskim almost
universally adopted interpretation "(a)" instead of interpretation "(b)"
in their zeal to correct the widespread improper practice.  Any attempt
to make this fine distinction between carrying of children that is
CLEARLY incorrect and carrying of children that MIGHT be ok (depending
on which view is taken) would likely have had little practical effect in
the face of a common, widespread practice.  It has thus become normative
halacha not to carry a child ANY DISTANCE AT ALL AT ANY AGE.  However,
according to the RY, interpretation "(b)" still has some validity, and
there is apparently a small minority of poskim that is still willing to
allow use of this interpretation in practice.  THE RY REFUSED TO ACCEPT
TODAY.  But since he was willing to grant that there was some possible
validity to this view (though he wouldn't accept it for himself), let us
examine what it would mean in terms of wheelchairs.  Keep in mind that
the wheelchair is considered to be part of the person.
  (a) It would permit anyone to wheel a wheelchair-bound person anywhere
at all (not just to/from shul) on Shabbat, BUT ONLY AS FAR AS THE PERSON
(However, it would not matter how long this would have taken.  Thus, had
our RY accepted this for himself, he would have been able to go other
places besides just to/from shul.)  It would unfortunately not do any
good for a person so incapacitated that he cannot move his own
wheelchair any distance at all.
  (b) There would still be a problem with entry/exit to/from a building.
If the wheelchair-bound person could have gotten in/out on his own
(either because the building has a ramp or street-level entrance, or
because he was capable of using a cane or crutches to get in/out on his
own, even with much difficulty), then this view would allow someone else
to carry him in/out.  If this ever becomes widely accepted, it would
then become important to make shuls wheelchair accessible if at all
possible.  It goes without saying that the person's house should also be
wheelchair accesible.
  (c) It must be emphasized that this view is not one which the RY
accepted, only one which he acknowledged had some halachic validity
despite its general lack of acceptance in today's Orthodox world.  Thus,
anyone wanting to practice in accordance with this view would first have
to be lucky enough to have a posek willing to permit this.  As usual,
CYLOR, but it can't hurt to be armed with all this information at the
time the sh'aila is asked.

Well, this has taken a rather long time, and as I said at the outset, is
not really very satisfying.  But it will have been well worth it if it
ultimately leads to any more freedom for even one person in a

Arthur Roth


From: <burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton)
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 94 00:35:11 -0400
Subject: Under pressure?

Yechezkel Schatz, looking for an easy way to reconcile B'Reshit with
direct observation, makes a startling claim about physics under

> For instance: when testing for C-14 levels, the most credible
> of all geological tests,with the least amount of assumptions underlying
> it, we are still assuming that the rate for C-14 break-down was always
> the same.  And yet, a pressure of about 5000 meters of water covering
> the earth's surface could have an affect on these rates.

This, if true, would be far more astounding than the Mabul itself.
Look, in human terms 500 atmospheres of pressure (what you would
experience at that depth) is a lot.  It would kill you.  It would kill
you in at least four ways that I can count, just while wearing my
physicist hat and my SCUBA diver hat; I'm sure a specialist in
hyperbaric medicine could think of a few more.  When it was done killing
you, it would crush your SCUBA tank, full or empty, like a rusty beer
can.  Four tons on every square inch is nothing to laugh at.

But to an atomic nucleus it's nothing...vacuum...tohu vavohu.  Even that
big mushy cloud of electrons around the nucleus only yields by about
0.0001% under such an equilibrium pressure---the water at the bottom of
the ocean is really not much denser than at the surface, despite the
pressure.  But the nucleus has a quadrillionth of the atom's volume, and
a million times the binding energy: that works out to
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the stiffness.  Thus, the nuclear
binding energy should be affected by about one part in 10^26...and not
one carbon atom will decay as much as one second sooner or later, out of
thousands of years.

We routinely use carbon in diamond-anvil high-pressure chambers, at
pressures a thousand times higher yet, and no one has observed any
change in the rate of carbon-14 decay.  Heavens, we study the details of
the carbon-nitrogen- oxygen fusion cycle in massive stars, at pressures
ten MILLION times higher than any pathetic little water flood...and if
the rate of C-14 decay were changed by a fraction of a percent, the
models would fail completely.

Of course, the Mabul was no ordinary flood.  But if we are going to
assume that a miracle changed the rate of nuclear decay, why not assume
that it happened when Moshe banged on the rock with his staff?  That
makes at least as much sense as Mr. Schatz's theory.  And it doesn't
give a veneer of scientific plausibility to the inexplicable...as the
flood theory might, if one were too lazy to work out the math.

 Joshua W Burton (401)435-6370 <burton@...>


End of Volume 15 Issue 86