Volume 16 Number 8
                       Produced: Mon Oct 24 23:19:19 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Carbon 14 Dating & Fractionation
         [Bobby Fogel]
Logic, Proof, and Statistics
         [Sam Juni]
Religion and Science
         [Stan Tenen]
The Age of the Universe
         [David Charlap]


From: <bobby@...> (Bobby Fogel)
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 17:48:59 +0000
Subject: Carbon 14 Dating & Fractionation

I guess my posting on the scientific dating of the age of the
earth/solar system did not make it to M.J. before a bit of interchange
on the carbon-14 topic took place, so I would like to correct some more
misunderstandings of this technique that have hit M.J.  However, before
i get into these i would like to once again point out that the age of
the earth IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN determined by science from the C-14
method since the method is only good back to 100,000-150,000 years.
Additionally, the chronological age of dinosaurs IS NOT AND NEVER HAS
BEEN determined by science from the C-14 method since dinosaurs lived
from 240 to 65 million years ago.  Scientists therefore use other
radionuclide methods (much more accurate than C-14 by the way) to
determine their age.

>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.

The principle under which carbon 14 dates are obtained is as follows:
cosmic ray neutrons constantly bombard the earth's atmosphere.  Some of
these neutrons react with nitrogen 14 (a stable isotope) to form carbon
14 + hydrogen.  C-14 is unstable and decays radioactively with a half
life of 5735 years.  The principle of C14 dating is that all living
organisms make use of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  Plants take it and
animals eat them.  When the living organism dies, its intake of C14
ceases.  It is from this point that C14 dates begin.  Since the dead
organism does not take on new carbon, the C14 concentration of the
organism continually decays according to a highly accurate rate law
similar to that which determines the interest on your money in the bank.

There are problems, however, with C14 dating which scientists themselves
have discovered and looked for. First, the neatron flux over the earth
varies as a function of time and space.  Most of the neatrons hitting
the earth come from the sun, thus, as the sun's neatron flux changes
over time so too does the production of C14 in the atmosphere.
Additionally, as far back as 1963 it was discovered that the neutron
flux at the poles was greater than at the equator.  However, as far back
as 1951, it was found that the C14 content of the atmosphere is
independant of the latitude.  This is because it does not take long for
C14 to mix thouroughly within our atmosphere. Second: by comparing C14
dates of trees as far back as 10,000 years, it was found that the C14
dates were off by different amounts at different times.  the reason for
this is the change in netron flux over time.  C14 dates that are
published, take this correction into account.  So.  yes, c14 dates after
the mabul are acccurate, but so are C14 dates before the mabul.
Example.  the C14 correction for 2500 BCE is about 450 years and that
for 1000 BCE is 100 years.

> 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?).

In geological lingo the process described here is called isotopic
fractionation.  Isotopic fractionation happens for all isotopic systems,
and has been studied in detail over many years.  The fractionation of
two isotopes of an atom say C14 and C12 occurs because C14 is 2/12
heavier than C12.  Consequently, reactions involving carbon may
fractionate the two based upon its weight.  To give an easier
example. there is a fractionation between Hydrogen (weight=1 or H1) and
Deuterium (Hydrogen with weight= 2) during raining.  This makes
intuitive sense since deuterium is heavier than hydrogen so the fraction
of deuterum precipitating from clouds versus the deuterium staying in
clouds will be larger than the fraction of Hydrogen precipitating from
clouds versus the Hydrogen staying in clouds.  The same things happens
for C.  There is a fractionation of 14CO2 from 12CO2 when organisms
breath in the carbon dioxide, as well as 14C dissolving in oceans over
C12 in oceans etc........  All these fractionations have been studied
and in fact have been the subject of many a thesis over the years.  (Why
is it that scientist are thought of as being so dumb on these matters
that the average lay person will come up with such brillient objections
to their work.)

Yes, there is more work to be done on all these things, but it is pure
fantasy to think that an age of 100,000 years for a neanderthal skeleton
will be correct by 95,000 years to come into line with the mabul.
Remember, even if the correction is 3,000 years for a 100,000 year old
article this is only an error of 3% and does'nt get even close to the


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 94 11:58:29 EST
Subject: Logic, Proof, and Statistics

There have been several postings in different discussion contxts which
have touched upon the construct of proof / truth / statistics in valida-
ting knowledge.  Those which stand out in my mind are:

 a. Daniel Levy's quarrel with the ontological proofs for the
    existence of G-d, where the premises and axioms appealed to
    are more esoteric and less acceptable than the actual question.

 b. Johnanthan Katz's arguments re the non-scientific quality of
    research into near-death experiences.

 c. Eli Turkel's invoking the notion of subjective interpretation of

 d. Rabbi Adlerstein's idea that belief in miracles begets miracles.

 e. Stan Tenen's assertion(15:10) that statistics cannot prove
     anything since there can only be scientific proof when the
     mechnism that generates the statistics is known.

 f. The (not so recent) arguments whether Discovery Codes can be held
    as a valid method of proof if one maintains that, had the proofs
    gone in the opposite direction, they would have been rejected

 g. Eli Turkel's assertion that one cannot prove Moshe Rabeinu existed
    using the scientific method of inquiry.

I have some ideas relating to the underlying structure.

  We all have belief systems.  Even out so-called knowledge of facts is
in reality a belief.  We all have different criteria where we decide if
we "know" something.  Sometimes we take a specific probabilistic cutoff
sometimes we take another, based on when we "feel" there is a good
"enough" chance (ascertained at the gut level) for a certain fact to
be true enough to warrant our behaving as if it were really true. "Proof"
is defined as convincing the target person.

Out two major forms of logic: inductive and deductive.  Deductive is
based on "established" principles.  What is omitted, there, however,
is who it is that did the establishing.  In truth, the principles are
in fact established through induction. Moreover, such established prin-
ciples are periodically rejected based on new empirical experience.
(E.g, The shortest path between 2 points is a straight line -- rejec-
ted with the discovery that the world is round; the whole equals the sum
of its parts -- rejected by additive rules in chemistry.) Regardless,
a priori principles are suspect and hard to come by.

Inductive logic generalizes from experience with an interpretation of
"similarity."  Obviously, there is a certain degree of statistical judge-
ment in deciding at what point the observer becomes convinced of the
(inductive) logical conclusion that a fact or pattern has been estab-

Statistics in such proofs involve a computation of odds whether a cer-
tain pattern would occur without an underlying mechanism or rationale.
The exact cuttoff percentage is NOT established empirically, but sub-
jectively (psychologically) -- i.e., "Am I comfortable taking a chance
at this percentage?"  One need not specify any philosophy or hypothesize
any mechanism to prove a fact.

When I know something and want to prove it to another, it behooves me to
take the perspective of th other.  Thus, the proof is oriented at the
other who does not believe (yet) in what I am trying to prove.  If I
insist that the target perso must believe in order to comprehend the
proof, then I am proving nothing.

The inability to prove something to the skeptic must not have direct
implications on the legitimacy of the belief. Moreover, it is feasible
that those who believe (for reasons other than "proofs") have access to
acatual legitimate proofs which are only accessible to those who first
believe without proof.

Eyewitness or historically recorded data are as legitimate elements in
proofs as any other elements (e.g., observations, repercussions, rational
analysis, etc.).  Yes, I can prove Moshe Rabeinu existed using the same
techniques used in any other acceptable proofs in contemporary social or
legal arenas.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 22:49:45 -0700
Subject: Religion and Science

Jonathan Katz' posting in M-J Vol. 15, #96 is not an entirely new idea. 
Others have proposed it and it is consistent with my understanding also.

"The Torah is not a history book" at least in regard to the creation 
stories in B'reshit.  That it has become understood as a history book 
and that that has had the effect it seems to have had was predicted and 
lamented by our sages.  It is taught (I believe in Zohar or Zohar 
Hadash) that the "translation" of Torah into Greek by the Sanhedrin 
(under duress, some say, Ptolemy Philadelphus) for the Alexandrian 
library, the so-called Septuagint translation, was as hard for Israel as 
the making of the golden calf.  That is an extreme statement.  It was 
made because our sages understood that once Torah was rendered in a 
foreign language - especially without the accompanying Oral Torah (later 
recorded in Talmud) - the meaning would necessarily be "flattened" into 
a story without the deeper Remez, Drosh, and Sod levels.  A few hundred 
years later, this allowed the Christians and later the Moslems (and many 
others) to make their own "translations" replete with significant 
differences of understanding, even at the story level, from Jewish 

Once translated into an ordinary language, Torah can appear to be no 
more than a story.  That is because ordinary language is appropriate 
ONLY for stories.  Any deeper, sacred, or formal level of meaning could 
not be included in the Septuagint and thus is completely lost to all 
translations and understandings based on ONLY this (sort of) 

It is this "flattened" translation that causes all the problem.  Only in 
the "flattened" text level, which we call the Pshat, does it appear that 
creation happened in the past.  Only if we translate B'reshit as if it 
refers to some past event can we associate our calendar age with the 
time of creation.  Only at this literal level - which we inherited from 
pagan sources - does Torah appear to include an unscientific ahistorical 
account of creation 5755 years ago. 

At the Sod, the letter level, B'reshit describes a universal organizing 
principle that maps the continuous emergence of consciousness in a way 
that is spiritually, physically and psychologically sound. 

I sometimes wonder if Torah Jews who avoid kabbalah are not also 
avoiding what is special to Judaism in Torah.  Without the deeper, 
kabbalistic, Sod, word level, Torah can appear to be stories written by 
persons whose secular knowledge has been superseded by our sciences.  
This is what the secular scholars seem to believe.  Who can blame them 
when they read the story and do not even know of the existence of deeper 

So, I agree with Jonathan Katz.  In my opinion, if there is real meaning 
to the 5755 years of our calendar it is not as the age of the universe 
or as the time since physical creation of anything.  5755 years ago 
evolution, set in motion and continuously created by Hashem, reached a 
point where Hashem allowed our human form of self-awareness to develop 
to the point where we became capable of some appreciation of Hashem and 
some awareness of our self-hood as creatures of Hashem.  In my opinion, 
human self-consciousness and human consciousness of Hashem began 5755-
years ago - and that creation process has been continuing ever since in 
exactly the same way.  That same way is what is outlined, letter by 
letter, in B'reshit.  (And, may I be so brash as to say, given nearly 
thirty years of study and much help from others, I think we are on the 
verge of being able to demonstrate that to anyone who will take the time 
to look and who is prepared for what they might find.  - The conditions 
in Ain Dorshin still hold, however.)

Stan Tenen                     Internet:    <meru1@...>
P.O. Box 1738                  CompuServe:  75015,364
San Anselmo, CA 94979 U.S.A.


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 94 11:38:11 EDT
Subject: The Age of the Universe

I've been seeing a few different ideas kicked around here.  In

1) The universe is 5755 (+/- possible error.  In any case, under 6000)
   years old.  Differences with science are because God created a
   universe that appears to be billions of years old.

2) The universe is 5755 years old.  Differences with science are
   because science can't reliably measure anything that old.  (The
   C-14 and the Flood theory)

3) The universe is billions of years old.  Differences with the Torah
   are because a "day" in creation isn't meant to be taken literally.

4) The universe is billions of years old.  Differences with the Torah
   are because of some strange relativity where the six-days of
   creation, from God's perspective equals our billions of years.

I'd like to propose another answer: "Who cares?"  As far as I'm
concerned, it makes no difference.  In all theories, it boils down to
the question "why is God trying to fool us?".

In theory 1, the age of the universe is deliberately being confused,
so no act of man can ever get the "true" value of 5755 years.

In theory 2, God created laws of science that have changed over time.
Again, I see this as a deliberate attempt to fool mankind, since
nobody has ever observed any evidence of the scientific laws having
changed at any time.  And if the laws weren't as consistent as they
seem to be, they wouldn't be able to make the predictions that they
are, in fact, able to make.

In theory 3, why is God deliberately trying to fool us by using
language that has to be read "between the lines" in order to
understand.  While I agree that much of the Torah requires
interpretation, the literal text usually has a useful meaning without

In theory 4, it's the same as three.  Does God expect us to understand
relativity in order to make sense of the Torah?

Anyhow, in resolution of this "ultimate question" of "why is God
trying to fool us?"  I'll answer:

Because both ages (observed and given) teach us valuable lessons that
couldn't be taught otherwise.

The science that lead to the "discovery" of a billions-year-old
univserse is the same science that discovered space travel, astronomy,
physics, nuclear power, etc.  If we would observe a 6000-year old
universe, it would throw all of our theories out of whack, and many
great accomplishments and discoveries would not have happened.

And the Torah view of a 5755-year old univserse teaches us other
lessons.  Humility and yirat shamayim (fear of heaven) come to mind.
imagine, God created the universe in 6 days - look what a mess we've
made of it over our 5755 years of being (mostly) in control.  And,
science predicts that random chance could create the universe, but it
would take billions of years - isn't God amazing - He did it in six
days.  Etc.

God doesn't do anything without a reason, and this includes all of the
discrepancies between science and the Torah.  Which is right?  They
both are.  Why do they differ?  To teach us lessons.  The wise man
will realize this and try to learn the lessons.


End of Volume 16 Issue 8