Volume 16 Number 13
                       Produced: Wed Oct 26 22:17:48 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Logic and Proof
         ["Daniel Levy Est.MLC"]
Religion and Science
         [David Charlap]
Science & Religion
         [Stan Tenen]
Science and Creation
         [Joel Goldberg]
Science and Torah
         [Marc Shapiro]


From: "Daniel Levy Est.MLC" <daniel@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 15:18:15 +0000
Subject: Logic and Proof

Sam Juni writes: "If I insist that the target person must believe in
order to comprehend the proof, then I am proving nothing."  In my
estimation, this argument cannot be disputed, since it is tautological.
It is true, of course, that I cannot simply state and axiom and the
classification as axiomatic will convince of its veracity.  All I can do
(maybe) to convince another that an axiom is true is bring forth a
series of demonstrations of its applicability, or appeal to the
self-evident nature of the axiom, thereby trying to help the convincee
use his inductive reasoning.  This does not mean that "the target person
must believe in order to comprehend the proof."  At least not in the
sense that believing and being convinced are differenent entities.  In
this sense, and using Sam Juni's definition of proof ( "Proof" is
defined as convincing the target person), I have achieved my goal
without resorting to emunah.

In my opinion, however, proof is not subjective (at this point my
argument becomes tautological).  This would mean that I accept axioms by
means of statistical or inductive arguments, then raise them to a level
in my mind where no doubt exists as to their veracity, and build on
these to construct proofs.


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 94 12:27:28 EDT
Subject: Religion and Science

Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...> writes:
>(Before I go on, I want to clear up what I mean by "rise of humans" I
>am aware that hominids were around earlier than this. However, the
>first humans who organized themselves into cities (i.e. Sumer) did so
>about 5700 years ago....

Unless you look at some non-mainstream (but very convincing)
archaelogists and geologists who date the Sphynx at approximately 9000
years old.  No evidence of that civilization exists, but the pattern
of weathering on the rocks is an exact match for water-based erosion,
meaning the Sphynx must have existed back when the African jungle came
right up to the shores of the Mediteranean Sea - about 9000 years ago,
based on current geology.  There is evidence of a doorway into the
Sphynx at approximately 20 feet below the sand-level, but the Egyption
government hasn't ever given anyone permission to dig there and find
out for sure.

Aside from this one (major) artifact, however, your theory makes a lot
of sense.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 22:52:41 -0700
Subject: Science & Religion

Near the end of his posting on m-j Vol. 15, #85, Bobby Fogel says:

"I personally feel it is a disservice to both Torah and science to come 
up with fanciful explanations for serious Torah and science problems.  I 
believe that Torah is much deeper than this and that G-D gave us minds 
to reason and yes, come up with dates for the solar system of 4.55 
billion years."

I completely agree.  It is not appropriate to science or to Torah to try
to make them match up in a simple way.  If Torah and science match it
cannot be at the THING or descriptive level because things and
descriptions have no permanency.  Only at the topological level does it
make sense to look for similarities. Only when all "embodiments",
"descriptions", and "graven images" of "things" are stripped away can we
see from a divine (invariant, universal, eternal) perspective and it is
only from this perspective that we should expect Torah and physical
reality to be identical.

I posted the quotation that I am so taken with from Spencer-Brown, the 
topologist, before, so I won't repeat it here.  Spencer-Brown points out 
that mathematical topology which studies invariant relationships is 
universal across all systems without regard to their form.  That is why 
he calls his book, "The Laws of Form."  It is at this definitional 
level, that we have a right to search for invariances that are truly 
universal and eternal - not in the world of actual "graven" imagery.

In my opinion, Torah cannot be studied as an objective science except at 
the topologically invariant level which does not depend on form.  To 
compare Torah and scientific findings outside of this level can be no 
more than apologia - and that is embarrassing to Torah and to science.

Stan Tenen,
Meru Foundation


From: <goldberg@...> (Joel Goldberg)
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 1994 13:35:33 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Science and Creation

<david@...> (David Charlap) writes:
> I've been seeing a few different ideas kicked around here.  In
> summary:
> 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.
> 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.

  I found a volume in the Library of a women's Seminary (where my minyan
 meets) on Science and Torah. Produced in 1965, edited by Cyril Domb, Orthodox
 Statistical Physicist then of King's College, now of Bar-Ilan, and by
 Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, who may be familiar to many as the person who actually
 physically produced the text for Rabbi Dessler's Strive for Truth/Michtav
 m'Eliyahu. Both live within 5 minutes of the seminary, but I digress.

   There were 3 articles. One gave argument 3. One (by the Lubavicher Rebbe)
 gave argument 2 (with the addition that science would eventually come into
 line with torah, thereby suggesting that he didn't see the edifice of science
 as in danger from dishonesty, as was discussed a few months ago on MJ.) The
 third article dismissed argument 3 because the plain menaing of the text must
 (axiomately?) have some importance, and dissmissed argument 2 because the
 overwhelming success of the self same theories that lead to an old universe
 make unlikely their error in this one particular aspect. This article advanced
 argument 1, and gave as an explanation essentially what David Charlap wrote.
 (No article advanced argument 4, but as I and others have noted, there
  are several time scales, depending on different scientific principles, all
  of which lead to a universe older than 6000 years. Thus 4 should really
  be dismissed entirely.)


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 22:42:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Science and Torah

I have read with interest the recent discussions re. science and Torah. 
It is, however, somewhat unusual that people who appear to be so called 
modern-Orthodox are presenting Haredi-fundamentalist positions. I would 
therefore like to share with people what I believe is the modern Orthodox 
approach on some of the issues being discussed. I am led to do so after a 
conversation I had with someone a few weeks ago who confessed that he 
could no longer be religious since he didn't believe. I asked what he 
meant when he said he didn't believe and he said that he didn't believe 
that the world was some 5000 years old and that the entire world was 
destroyed in the Flood. As he put it, there are hundreds of species of 
animals and insects in Australia, New Guinea and the rainforest. Did they 
just get on a boat and sail from Mt. Ararat to their current domiciles. 
Not to mention the fact that they could never have lived in Noah's area 
to begin with.
	What I said to this man, and what I say now, is what I believe to be 
the proper response. It is also the one shared by all of the so called 
modern Orthodox scholars and intellectuals I have spoken to concerning 
this question. 
This approach is presented in their lectures on Bible and history at the 
varous universities they teach at. If you go to the 
Association for Jewish Studies convention, where over half the attendees 
are now Orthodox, you will get the same answer from just about anyone you 
ask. I am not saying that everyone who is considered a modern Orthodox 
philosopher, Bible Scholar or historian shares this view, but certainly 
the overwhelming number do and everyone I have spoken to agrees. I 
mention this only to point out that although modern Orthodox people on 
this line seem to be advocating one position, the so-called intellectuals 
of this community have a different position. Understanding this will both 
broaden the horizons of modern Orthodox Jews and also allow many of them 
not to feel intellectually dishonest or consider the Bible simply a 
collection of fairy tales.
	If you ask these modern Orthodox scholars about the flood (and
the Genesis story) you will be told that they are not to be taken
literally. Obviously the world is more than five thousand years old and
there was never a flood which destroyed the entire world, although this
doesn't mean that there was never a localized flood. Of course, by now
there is no dispute among modern Orthodox that the world is billions of
years old and I would say that to deny this would ipso facto mean that
one can no longer be considered "modern". However, my major purpose here
is to discuss the flood since this was not dealt with adequately on Mail
Jewish. Most people are probably aware that a number of rishonim took
the whole garden of Eden story allegorically and R. Kook writes that it
makes no difference for us if in truth there was no Garden of Eden Can
this insight be applied to the Flood?.
	Well the answer which is offered by modern Orthodox scholars is
that the Flood can only be understood by comparison with the Gilgamesh
epic and it is in comparing the two that we see the real significance of
the Torah's story, which is not trying to teach us history but important
lessons about God and his relationship to man. Understood in this
fashion, what is significant is the inner meaning of the Torah and not
its outer texture which was never meant to be taken literally, and was
able to be appreciated much better by the early Israelites who were
aware of the Gilgamesh story. The exact point about the inner meaning
being important, and not the so-called history, is made by all scholars
who have discussed the allegory of the Garden of Eden When the flood
story is understood in this light (and I cannot elaborate on all the
details here) it is obvious that questions such as how the kangaroo got
to Australia miss the point.(Although medieval scholars did not discuss
the flood in this way, it is perhaps possible to see a precedent for the
modern Orthoox approach in the comments of Joseph ibn Caspi on the
rabbinic phrase "The Torah speaks in the Language of Men."  His comments
are analyzed by Isadore Twersky in his article "Joseph Ibn Kaspi:
Portrait of a Medieval Jewish Intellectual," in Studies in Medieval
Jewish History and Literature vol. 2. It is further interesting that in
adopting this approach, Modern Orthodox scholars are doing something
they usually don't do. Usually they argue that their insight into
secular subjects allows them to have a better appreciation of the Torah
than otherwise would be the case. However, with regard to the Flood
story, they are saying that it is literally impossible to understand
what the Torah is talking about with knowledge of Gilgamesh. Obviously,
the traditional commentators are of very little help in this regard.).
	Now why is it that Modern Orthodox scholars cannot take the
story literally? The answer if very simple and I'm sure most people know
what I'm going to say. To believe that the entire world was destroyed
some four thousand years ago and that we and all the animals are
descended from Noah and those in his ark (similarly to believe that we
are all descended from a first man named Adam who lived 5000 years ago)
is not merely to dispute a certain historical fact, or to deny the
existence of say Alexander, Caesar or George Washington. On the
contrary, it is this and much more.  One who believes in the flood story
literally (or in the five thousand year history of the world) rejects
the entire historical enterprise. He denies history itself and places
himself outside of time.  It is pointless to even discuss, never mind
argue, with someone who adopts this view since there can be no point of
reference between the fundamentalist and the historcally minded. Indeed,
it makes no sense for the fundamentalist to even attempt to show the
historical veracity of what he believes, since as I said above, his very
position is a rejection of the validity of all historical meaning. As
such any discussion is pointless.
	Since Modern Orthodoxy has always accepted the value of history,
it is no surprise that the flood story is seen very differently in its
scholarly circles than in Haredi circles. If people ask the professors
at Bar Ilan's Bible department or history or philosophy departments
about the flood and other things the answers will obviously be very
different than what is given at traditional yeshivot (I've spoken to a
number of the former about this and other issues, primarily about how
best to present this material about the flood when teaching
undergraduates) Of course, this will ot surprise anyone who has studied
at this or simiilar institutions. To give an illustration which might be
helpful, At Bar Ilan's Bible department it is acceptable to engage in
Higher Criticism of the Prophets and Hagiographa whereas this is
considered heresy at the yeshivot. I think the average modern Orthodox
Jew would also regard this as heresy and Prof. Uriel Simon (currently at
Harvard) recently recalled to me the controversy such study created in
the early years of the University when members of other faculties wished
to ban it as heretical.. I mention this only to point out that there is
a difference between what the so called moder Orthodox intellectuals are
doing and what the so called moder Orthodox laity believe. It seems to
me that this needs to be brought more into line.
						Marc Shapiro


End of Volume 16 Issue 13