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Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Judaism’

Science vs Religion or Scientists vs Religionists?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 12, 2007


…Dawkins replies “What expertise can theologians bring to deep cosmological questions that scientists cannot?”

“Neo-Darwinism, with its random mutations and lack of any goal, “cannot be reconciled” with the theological teachings of the Torah.

“…this “need” among theologians and scientists to “reconcile” evolution with theology, or in some cases prove that they are the very opposition of each other, raises another question: Why this almost obssessive urge from either side, position in this?”

The quotes in Green and Red above represent an Atheistic and a Theistic approach to the issue of Science and Religion on the Topic of the Origins of Life, the Universe and Everything.

The quote in blue is me looking at the brawl from the out-side.

Many years ago I resolved the seeming conflict between Science and Religion by looking at what questions they answer respectively on the matter. I think perhaps I intuitively knew that the conflict lies not between the two Disciplines, but between the Disciples of both, because the answer to the conundrum of Science vs Religion I found looks as follows:

Torah/The Bible/Religion answers the Questions Who and Why?

Science/Evolutionary Theory answers the Questions How, When and Where?

Put like this there is no conflict, because in this “model” both Science and Religion are doing what they are designed to do. If we let them do that all is well. Because Torah doesn’t say one word about exactly how G-d did it – except alluding to ideas Science has already established (such as man being made from clay, which can very well be the “primordial soup” Science says all life came from) and Science doesn’t say one word about Who did it, though the very study of the mechanism of Evolution can lead individuals to the conclusion that some Prime Cause is behind it all. However neither Science nor Religion/Torah needs the other for verification or validation.

The problems start when we try to mix them, like Intelligent Design is doing or make them, two inanimate disciplines, responsible for what is really the doing of their animate proponents.

How ridiculous does that look? Two puppets on strings being forced to whack away at each other by Puppet Masters, not seen by the Audience, yelling at the top of their lungs:

– “Your puppet is beating my puppet!” Whack, whack!

– “No, your puppet is beating my puppet!” Whack, Whack!

– “Look what your evil g-dless puppet did, it broke the arm of my puppet!” Whack, slap!

– “Grrrr, that does it! Your brainwashed, fundamentalist puppet is going to Die!” Slap, whack!

Intelligent Design/Creationism doesn’t work, not primarily because it’s not scientifically sound, but because it attempts to create a synthesis of two ideas, substances that are not designed to be mixed, using tools that are alien to one of the substances, Science.

ID/Creationism presupposes a Prime Cause – that is after all why it exists, there would be no need for ID if that was not its prime purpose – but since a Prime Cause cannot be proved or disproved ID/Creationism violates the first premise of any scientific statement – verifiable evidence.

Science cannot answer ontological or theological problems, and Religion cannot answer scientific problems – both can lead towards the understanding of the other, and they do so frequently, but they cannot take over each others’ role in human life and be expected to lead anything anywhere. They work best side by.

Other Sites that discuss this issue:

In the Name of Towelie!

Posted in Evolution Theory, On the Matter of Belief in G-d, Science vs Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“Is Darwin Kosher?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 12, 2007


“Is Darwin Kosher?” Discovery Institute Hosts Orthodox Jew who says “No!”

“According to Rosenblum, Neo-Darwinism, with its random mutations and lack of any goal, “cannot be reconciled” with the theological teachings of the Torah.

Would you expect a tree to have a goal? Or a salmon to be aware that it’s life is going to end at the very place it was spawned? Of course not! Just as little as I would expect my printer to be aware of the words it prints when printing the weekly parasha for me – does this lack of awareness disqualify the printer for its job? Does it make my understanding of how the printer works less valid? No. Why? Because the printer does the job it was designed to do.

In a way Science is like my printer – it can only do what it is designed for, and Science is not designed to answer theological questions or even cast light on those matters. The question that this “need” among theologians and scientists to “reconcile” evolution with theology, or in some cases prove that they are the very opposition of each other, raises another question: Why this almost obssessive urge from either side, position in this?

One very big reason is tradition – Science has traditionally been maltreated by the Church, and has therefore naturally adopted a skeptic and cautious attitude towards the Church.

Traditionally the Church has been obsessed with proving the truth of its claims and doctrines, one of them the existence of G-d, and since The Evolution Theory doesn’t require the existence of G-d to be accurate or even mentions G-d, it has been at odds with the Church from get go.

What does this have to do with Judaism? Well, in the view of many Evolution theorists Genesis is Genesis, regardless of who is reading it. But the truth is that Judaism has never bothered with such matters as proving the existence of G-d – that has ALWAYS been an axiom in Judaism – nor is Judaism really interested in the literal veracity of Written Torah, since Oral Torah is the basic Guiding light in Judaism. The Sages have always been reading Torah from a more or less loose point, through allusions, anagrams, allegories and general midrashing. Science, and a logical process has always been part of Jewish education, even back when our ancestors were mere farmers and hunters. So for Judaism the question of Science vs Religion is irrelevant.

Rosenblum was adamant that Orthodox Judaism in its reading of the Bible is not driven by a simple literal approach, but he maintained that Neo-Darwinian evolution stretches the theological truths of the Torah beyond their intended meaning.

Now, this is an interesting statement. Again this claim that “theological truths” have any bearing on Evolution or the other way around. Besides, anyone who has been just half awake for the last 10 years knows that it is actually the theologians that are trying to stretch Evolutionary Theory in a manner that was never intended.

Rosenblum clearly grasped the scientific issues. His article last year in the Jewish Observer challenged Darwin on the grounds of a lack of transitional fossils and the inability of natural selection to produce complex systems.

“Rosenblum grasps the scientific issues” to a degree where he is able to establish something that is not true – how brilliant! Sorry, I just couldn’t let that one be. “…on the grounds of a lack of transitional fossils”. On the matter of transitional fossils – perhaps the good Rosenblum need to read that?

Instead, Rosenblum, who himself is a graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Chicago, gave a lucid explanation of how Neo-Darwinism survives:

First step: Exclude all non-natural causes as a priori inadmissible. Second step: If Darwinian Evolution were true, it would explain observed taxonomic similarities between different living things. Third step: Since no alternative explanation exists to explain those phenomena, Darwinism must be true. … Fourth step: Since Darwinism is true, all explanations based on non-natural causes are vanquished. Note how that which was a priori excluded at the outset is now deemed to have been somehow disproved. (Jonathan Rosenblum, “The Myth of Scientific Objectivity,” Jewish Observer (May, 2006).)

That last quote is a nice and pretty little logical fallacy:

First statement is false in and of itself, since Evolution Theory does not have any claims whatsoever about non-natural causes – it’s purely agnostic in that realm, and on top of that it is irrelevant to the three following statements – it has no connection to the other parts of the chain. And since his fourth statement is dependent on the first for validity, that falls away too.

Now, how about Statements 2 and 3? Well, the problem is that Evolutionary Theory does explain the taxonomic similarities between different living things, and since Rosenblum stated “If so – then so…” he has disqualified his own reasoning and ends up with no need for alternative explanations, since only his second statement needs verification, and that fails. Simple logic.

The appearance of the idea of “non-natural causes” in this discussion is purely theological and is given power only because theologians have mistaken the aim of Science for the personal opinions of the scientists on theological matters. Rosenblum is no different.

Posted in Evolution Theory, On the Matter of Belief in G-d, Scientists vs Religionists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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