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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Theistic Evolution 1

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on January 6, 2008

I am a Theistic Evolutionist, a Evolutionary Creationist. This means that I make one assumption which is squarely planted in Faith as a matter that cannot be scientifically proved – G-d exists. Other than that I accept the Evolutionary Account of the Origins of the Universe and everything in it. I am not a scientist. I am theologian with an interest in science, and especially in reconciling Science with Faith, hopefully without making the mistakes I think many people of Faith have made, in such a manner that it becomes clear that there really is no conflict between Faith and Science.
I choose to do it “from Scripture to Science” i.e adapting Scripture to Science, rather than the other way around, which seems to be the manner of f.i Intelligent Designists and Literal Creationists, who invariably try and adapt Science to the Scriptural Account, and in my opinion fail horribly and only manage to perpetuate a conflict that really doesn’t exist.
In order to harmonize the Biblical Creation Account with existing Scientific Evolutionary Facts, we have to understand the Biblical TEXT and how it works. It is fine to just see the Biblical Creation Account as an allergory that gives the basic answers to the questions of Who? and Why? from a religious perspective and stop there. This assumes of course that one wants to have such answers, this is not necessary, one is perfectly fine without those answers. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to stop at a mere allergory. I think that if we look at the actual Text of Bereshit/Genesis Chapters 1 and 2, and are willing to read beyond what Tradition teaches, we will see that there is, within the very text, support for a pure scientific understanding of “How it All Came Into Being.”

“In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis/Bereshit 1:1

Apart from the fact that this verse works like a head line in a newspaper article, simply summarizing the contents of what is to follow, this verse is interesting. In English or most other languages is just says “In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.” In Hebrew, the Original Language of Torah, there is a textual elememt that implies that the Author was aware that Creation is an on-going process, and not something that is finished. It actually says: “In the Beginning of G-d’s Creating Heavens and Earth.” Which leads to a quite startling discovery, which I will get to after this brief message:

This verse makes 2 statements.
1. It all began somewhere in Reality, timed or timeless. This has been established by Science. The Universe is not without beginning. Bereshit 1:1 concurs with Science on this point. The existence of a Universal Beginning can be Scientifically observed and verified.
2. G-d did it. This is a statement of pure Faith. This cannot be verified by Science, it can only be believed. We might be able to deduce from findings within Science, that the Idea of G-d as Creator would be viable if we put Him out-side Time and Space.

“Actually, the latest understanding of the origin of the universe indicates that prior to the Big Bang, time itself did not exist. Without the existence of space produced by the Big Bang, time had no meaning. And without time, references in space have no meaning. So in a sense, the theological idea that God as Creator exists outside space and time makes perfect sense.” (Dale Husband)

This however would be by deduction only. We cannot establish that He actually did it. For all we know, from a perspective of Science, He might as well be non-existent, at most a non-active Spectator of a Random Event that took place 13.7 billion years ago without His intervention or participation.

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis/Bereshit 1:2

This verse makes another 2 statements:

1. At one time, most likely just prior to the Random Event that took place 13.7 billion years ago, Matter/Mass had no form, it was free-floating out-side Space and Time. This can be verified by scientific observations. Bereshit/Genesis 1:2 concur with Science. Here we get to the startling discovery through the realization that the Biblical Account speaks of Creation as an on-going process. Contrary to what Popular Theology, both Xian and Jewish teaches, this verse makes very clear that G-d did not Create “ex nihilo” (out of nothing) God had access to matter/mass. Something was present from which He created.

“In 1952, George Gamow, one of the founding fathers of Big Bang cosmology, proposed that the period before the Big Bang be called the Augustinian era,[1] after the philosopher Saint Augustine, who believed time was solely a property of the God-created Universe. Even though one could philosophically argue over the meaning of the phrase “to create”, through the theory of general relativity space and time can be related to each other. The phrase “Augustinian Era” stands as a testament to the fact that the known laws of physics break down in a gravitational singularity of a geometric point at the time zero of the Big Bang and that, before then, time as we know it is meaningless.” From Wikipedia

So far our our Biblical Account confirms what Science says.

2. G-d was present prior to a Random Event that took place 13.7 billion years ago. This cannot be verified scientifically, therefore must remain a matter of Faith.

This far I am startled by one single seeming fact: How Faith and Fact seem to be proposed by the Biblical account through its statements of description that can be verified by Science and its statements about a Creator, which can only be “verified” through Faith. It is as if the Biblical Account wants us to accept both in conjunction. I just marvel at those who refuse to realize that if one accepts through Faith that G-d exists, one must also accept that Faith is meaningless without sound Reason/Science. Faith cannot be proved. By the same token Reason cannot be believed. There is a “No-mans-land” between Faith and Reason that we have to cross, and interestingly enough it can only be traversed through a leap of Faith, in both directions, and the border crossing is guarded by Logic.

I’ll stop here for now. Next will be the actual Big Bang…


Posted in Creationism, Torah | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Nitzavim-Vayelech – Teshuvah – A New Beginning

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 4, 2007

Torah Portion: Devarim/Deuteronomy 29:9 31:30 Haftarah: Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9 Isaiah 55:6 – 56:8

I have decided to try an weave two of my most precious life-lines together – Torah and the 12 Step Program of Recovery – there really is no better place to start that challenge than on the second Last Shabbat before Roshashana and Yom Kippur.

So this weeks Dvar Torah is dedicated to my friends in Recovery – you all know just who you are 🙂

Focal Point Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:6-14

Then the L-rd your G-d will open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live. The Lord your G-d will inflict all those curses upon the enemies and foes who persecuted you. You, however, will again heed the L-rd and obey all His commandments that I enjoin upon you this day. And the L-rd your G-d will grant you abounding prosperity in all your undertakings, in the issue of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil. For the L-rd will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers, since you will be heeding the L-rd your G-d and keeping His commandments and laws that are recorded in this book of the Teaching — once you return to the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and soul.

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. impart it to us, that we may observe it?”

  1. We admitted we were powerless over [insert your drug, process of choice here], that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of G-d as we understand G-d.

Did you know that in the original “order” of the 12 Steps [which were actually 6], steps 1, 2 and 3 were baked into one?

Why was that? Because realizing that we are powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable can be very overwhelming, and more often than not there are behaviors we need to stop right away if we are to save our very lives, so we need to move from powerless and unmanageable without anywhere to go, to powerless and unmanageable with not only hope of a place to go, but to a place where we can actually be restored to some resemblance of sanity – and that my friends happens in step 3.

See, step 1 won’t tell you anything but that your are powerless and unmanageable, step 2 will only tell you that sanity is possible – but neither of them will actually provide sanity so being confronted with steps 1 and 2 is rather harsh – that’s why, originally, people were asked to take the 3 first steps as one, because step 3 will restore sanity on a daily basis, because step 3 is where we give up trying to control ourselves and the world around us and let G-d (as we understand G-d)take control of us one day at a time.

“But I don’t believe G-d loves me, that He cares about me or that He even exists!”.

One of my sponsors once told me that it doesn’t matter what I believe – it matters what I do. So my beliefs is immaterial, because if I tell G-d every morning that I turn my life over to Him (whoever or what ever He is) He will do the work as long as I do my footwork – go to meetings and check in with my sponsor. Did I believe it would work? No. But I did it because it was my last way out of a life that had brought me to the abyss where I was seriously staring suicide in the eyes. I was in so much pain that I would probably have done acrobatics if my sponsor had told me it would work.

But the simple wisdoms “Act as if” and “Fake it till you make it!” is actually in Torah: “And he took the Book of the Covenant and read it within the hearing of the people, and they said, “All that the Lord spoke we will do and we will hear.” (Shemot/Exodus 24:7)

Children learn through mimicking what adults do – they do before they understand what they are doing. Torah tells us that, in regards to a functional life (because that is what living according to Torah leads to) this is the attitude we need to take – learning/understanding through doing what we need to learn/understand.

So, I can work Step 3 even if I don’t believe it, just because I need to, and eventually it will be something I believe, something I do with faith and hope and trust that G-d as I understand Him, is restoring me to sanity on day at a time.

So how is this all connected to Torah and being Jewish?

Well, for one working step 1 is a natural part of the Jewish Path – every year, with the start of Elul, Jews all over the World begin a process of self-reflection, self- examination that will eventually lead them to identification of areas in their lives where they are out of control and need to do Teshuvah (return to Torah and G-d). Hope is also built into the Jewish Path – that G-d will restore that which was broken and bring sanity, because when the Gate closes on Yom Kippur all of Israel has been forgiven and a new beginning is declared.

“In all their troubles He was troubled, And the angel of His Presence delivered them. In His love and pity He Himself redeemed them, Raised them, and exalted them All the days of old” (Isaiah 63:9)

Step 3 is just a natural sequel to all of this in Judaism – Teshuvah – Forgiveness – Renewed Observance. All in the manner that fit each of us and our recovery.

Here’s a Jewish Prayer that fit perfectly to say at the end of any 12 Step Meeting:

Adon Olam

The Lord of the Universe who reigned
before anything was created.
When all was made by his will
He was acknowledged as King.

And when all shall end
He still all alone shall reign.
He was, He is,
and He shall be in glory.

And He is one, and there’s no other,
to compare or join Him.
Without beginning, without end
and to Him belongs dominion and power.

And He is my G-d, my living G-d.
to Him I flee in time of grief,
and He is my miracle and my refuge,
who answers the day I shall call.

To Him I commit my spirit,
in the time of sleep and awakening,
even if my spirit leaves,
G-d is with me, I shall not fear.

Shabbat Shalom!

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