Volume 9 Number 60
                       Produced: Thu Oct 21 12:02:08 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Michael Allen]
Creation, Torah and Shabbos Braishis
         [Pinchas Edelson]
De-Sanctifying Holy Sites
         [David Ben-Chaim]
Earth's Place in the Universe
         [David Charlap]
Evolution vs. Creation
         [Mike Gerver]
Measurable phenomena
         [Jonathan Goldstein]


From: Michael Allen <allen@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 93 09:45:38 -0400
Subject: Cosmology

On Fri, 24 Sep 93 04:52:18, Benjamin Svetitsky
(<bqs@...>) said:

Ben> is Michael Allen's amazing (considering the source) assertion
Ben> that homogeneity and isotropy are "unjustified and untestable
Ben> assertions."  I don't know what he means by unjustified, but why
Ben> "untestable"?  Surely we can be more sophisticated than demanding
Ben> that I make a trip to Alpha Centauri to measure the speed of
Ben> light there.  In fact, homogeneity has exactly the same standing
Ben> as any other assumption of physical theory.  The theory _as a
Ben> whole_ stands or falls on its experimental success.  Modern
Ben> cosmology -- based on homogeneity -- is remarkably successful.

The assumptions of homogeneity and isotropy were not made because
anyone thought the universe was either homogeneous nor isotropic, but
because that is is the only way you can solve the equations that even
has a resemblance to our universe.  I would agree that this is a good
way to make calculations about things that are not too far away in
time or space, but it is a more than a little presumptuous to base one's
understanding of the origins of the universe on straight-line
extrapolations of such scanty data.

A more precise statement is that modern cosmology is self-consistent.
Usually self-consistency is a good sign of success, but cosmology is
unique because the universe is unique.  We don't have many universes,
nor do we have the opportunity start our universe off with an ensemble
of initial conditions.  Further, all of our measurements are made at
essentially one point in the universe.  To put the distances in
perspective, if our galaxy (~10^21 m) were scaled down to the size of
the earth (~10^7 m), the earth would be scaled down to the size of a
very small amoeba (~10^-7 m).  Finally, according to the last
measurements I knew in any detail (mid-80's), the distribution of
matter (at least luminous matter) is *not* homogeneous even on the
largest scales.  The background radiation is extremely isotropic (in
fact problematically so), but to assert that this is true throughout
the universe requires the non-negligible leap of faith that there is
nothing special about us or our place in the universe.  Of course this
is no longer science, but religion -- and it is a religion whose
tenets could not be more at odds with the Torah, from which we learn
that reality itself was created for our benefit.

It should also be noted that it requires quite sophisticated
experiments to measure the difference between Newtonian gravity and
General Relativity -- yet the cosmological models with which they are
consistent are in no way similar.  Newtonian gravity stood without
challenge for three centuries, while General Relativity has been
around for only 80 years or so.  To assume that the cosmological model
associated with whatever replaces General Relativity will be similar
to the current fancy requires a leap of faith that runs counter to
reason and experience.


From: Pinchas Edelson <Edelson@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1993 18:49:58 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Creation, Torah and Shabbos Braishis

	I would first like to mention that sufek (doubt) is the gematria
of Amalek. It is one thing to speculate about the consistency of certain
ideas with Torah, but it is quite another matter to doubt the validity
of some of the foundations of belief in Torah.
	Recently, I have seen a few postings which on the whole were
written in an intelligent manner stating that what we observe in the
world does not appear to rule out the scenario of creation proposed by
modern science. These comments were carefully thought out and the data
presented was explained in a simple and clear manner. Also presented
were some technical difficulties with understanding the first few
parshas in Sefer Braishis. These questions were also represented in an
intelligent fashion, expressing some apparent inconsistencies with
scientific observations and the first few parshas in Sefer Braishis.
	What was not proper were the conclusions drawn from the
discussion, namely whether it is necessary to believe literally what the
Torah says about the creation of the world or simply to take it
metaphorically or symbolically.
	This is not the proper meaning of the psukim, because in this
depends the mitzva of Shabbos. 	One of the reasons for keeping the day
of Shabbos each and every week is the posuk (Shmos 31:17) Because in six
days Hashem made the Heaven and the Earth and on the seventh day He
rested.  Furthermore, one who keeps Shabbos gives testimony that Hashem
created the world in six day and rested on the seventh day (see Ramban
Parshas Yisro).
	This is a simple explanation, but one need not quote the
literally hundreds of places in Divre Chazal where the six days of
creation are described as twenty-four hour days. Also we write shtaros
(documents) saying that this is the year 5754 from the creation of the
	If we do not see the world immediately as the Torah explains it,
our first reaction need not be to stretch the Torah to fit our senses.
This is not a reason for throwing away a foundation of the mitzva of
Shabbos and perhaps also Torah Min HaShomayim. There is also the matter
of emuna in our holy Sages of the Mishna and Talmud to consider here.

	I have omitted names since it has no bearing on the point I wish
to make. I am not criticizing any one individual, but these are some of
the comments to which I am referring.

>In no way, however, are Jews bound to believe that the time scale
>discussed in the Torah is the same as our own.

>In fact, every rabbi I've spoken with holds that one can make
>absolutely no assumptions with regard to the flow of time before the
>Flood. The Six Days of Creation are very often considered merely six
>"phases" of creation. And when the Torah speaks of pre-Flood people living
>to be hundreds of years old, it is not meant to be understood in terms
>of our years.

	These comments are neither scientific nor are they supported by
Torah. They are the 'feelings' or attitudes of certain individuals and
do not represent what we have been learning for the past three thousand
three hundred and four years, four months and fourteen days. As the
saying goes, the Rav said to his Talmid, all the chidushim which a
diligent student will learn were all given to Moshe at Sinai, but your
chidushim are true chidushim.

	Who is greater than Dovid Melech Yisrael when he said, "I will
speak of your statutes before kings and I will not be embarrassed"
(Tehilim 119:46).

	On to Simchas Torah and carry around the Sefer Torah which says
Sheshes Yomim..., we say Ashrecha Yisrael,and we read Braishis.
	May we apply to our generation the verse, Ki MiTzion Tetze Torah
U'Dvar Hashem MiYerushalayim"

Pinchas Edelson


From: David Ben-Chaim <DAVIDBC@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1993 14:21:25 +0200 (EET)
Subject: De-Sanctifying Holy Sites

  I'm sure that those of you living in big cities in America have had
the problem of synagogues, yeshivot etc, falling into dis-use as areas
change and Jews move futher out on Long Island, move from West Roger's
Park to Skokie etc. Till now we have never had the problem of having to
"de-sanctify" sites in Israel but recently we are having a lot of
experiences that we have never had before. Anyone familiar with the laws

This request is not the outcry of a single father and grandfather having
to see his children uprooted, but effects almost every religious family
(especially those of us who came on Aliyah for Zionistic reasons) since
practically every religious family has at least one son/daughter in
either Yehuda, Shomron, Gaza or The Golan.
|    David Ben-Chaim                      |
|    Tel: 972-4-292503 or 292502          |
|    email: <davidbc@...>    |
|    fax: 972-4-233501                    |


From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 93 19:16:14 -0400
Subject: Earth's Place in the Universe

Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...> writes:
>     Is the statement "The earth is the center of the universe" True?
>False? Indeterminate? Meaningless?

Well, if the Universe is infinitely large (as many scientists believe),
then any arbitrary point can be called the center.

>     The impetus for this question comes from a statement in the Maharal
>(Derech Chaim), with a similar idea expressed in the Ramban.

I would guess that these people meant it as a more spiritual center,
than a physical center.  Judaism teaches that the entire Universe was
creted by God for the purpose of containing the Earth, and the Earth was
created to be a place for human beings to live in.

So, "center" here probably means that the Earth is the main focus of
God's attention.  Not that it is equidistant from all the edges of the
Universe.  (wherever they may be)


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1993 3:02:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Evolution vs. Creation

David Charlap, in v9n40, uses an argument that was also used by Gerald
L.  Schroeder in the Fall 1991 issue of Jewish Action (p. 29). He says
that because of the gravitational red shift, fifteen billion years
passing on earth would correspond to six days as seen by an observer
(G-d?) at the edge of the universe. But doesn't he have it backwards?
Wouldn't someone at the edge of the universe be at a higher
gravitational potential than someone on the earth, and wouldn't this
mean that a short time as observed on the earth would seem like a very
long time to an observer at the edge of the universe? Or does the
expansion of the universe change this? Maybe someone out there who
really understands general relativity can clarify this.

In the static case, at least, an event that takes a short time to an
observer at the surface of a massive object takes a long time as seen by
an observer far away. To anyone who has trouble remembering this, I
recommend reading Poul Anderson's short story "Kyrie" (in "World's Best
Science Fiction, 1969, edited by Donald Wohlheim and Terry Carr, Ace,
reprinted from "The Farthest Reaches", copyright Joseph Elder). I won't
ruin it by giving away the ending, but suffice it to say that you will
*never* forget which way time dilation goes in a gravitational field,
after reading this story.

Readers who joined this list after the summer of 1992, who are
interested in these issues, might want to go back and look at the
extensive postings in volume 4, under topics such as "Evolution", "Age
of the Universe", and "Judaism and Science" or "Science and Judaism".

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <Jonathan.Goldstein@...> (Jonathan Goldstein)
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 93 20:41:15 -0400
Subject: Measurable phenomena

In Vol 9 no. 40 <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book) writes:
> The fact the you, a modern-day scienTIST posits the existence of a
> Creator, does not indicate that SCIENCE as a discipline can do the same
> thing.  Science is a study of observable an measurable phenomena; the
> Creator, by His very nature cannot be measures, and in the scientific
> sense of the word, cannot be observed either.  While you are a
> scientist, and you do posit the existence of a Creator, you do not do so
> in your capacity as a scientist.

Has anyone read _Reality_Revisited_ by Solomon Sassoon? In it, he
postulates a 4th physical force called a "field of spread", and then
demonstrates how such a force can account for the development and
continued existence of intelligent life-forms.

I have been told that this is similar to Sheldrake's "morphic fields".
If there are any smart physicists reading mail-jewish who are familiar
with this work, I would be interested in hearing their opinions of
Sassoon's theory.

Jonathan Goldstein       <Jonathan.Goldstein@...>       +61 2 339 3683


End of Volume 9 Issue 60