Sunday, October 14, 2012


Jewish Science   (1:1)

        Science does not paint G-d out of the picture; on the contrary.


Jewish Science   (1:1)

In the ongoing ferocious battles between creationists and evolutionists, the latter recently scored a point when Kansas school officials restored the theory of evolution to statewide curriculum. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country where powerful conservatives hold political office, creationists are equally enjoying a surge of power.

The creationists posit that there are aspects of biology which cannot be accounted for by a natural explanation, and that these gaps in scientific theory prove that the world was designed by a Creator. Evolutionists, on the other hand, claim that these gaps will soon be filled and thus there is no need to invoke a Master Architect.

The tragedy of this debate is that many lay people assume that they have to side fully with one group or the other. This is a mistake, because the philosophies of both positions are critically flawed.

From a Jewish point of view, the scientific enterprise itself is rooted in G-d who imposed the laws of science upon the physical universe. Therefore, Judaism always believed in perceiving G-d through studying the natural world. This never meant, “There is no scientific explanation for phenomena.” Rather, it meant understanding that G-d was the One who decreed these laws in the first place.

After a while however, science forgot its roots. Giddy with its newfound ability to provide explanations for the mechanisms of natural phenomena, science forgot to ask who made these mechanisms. Only recently with the success of science in discovering the extraordinary degree of order and unity inherent in nature, have some scientists begun to ask where these laws came from.                                                                   

Consider Einstein who wrote to a colleague, “But surely, one should expect the world to be chaotic...the success of in the objective world of a high degree of order, which we are in no way entitled to expect...Therein lies the ‘miracle’ which becomes more and more evident as our knowledge develops. And here is the weak point of positivists and professional atheists...”

Science does not paint G-d out of the picture. On the contrary, it presents a new picture: the body of scientific law, for Him to have painted. Our grasp of the remarkable rationality of the universe is reaching its climax with the quest for a “Unified Theory of Everything,” an encapsulation of all the laws of nature into a simple and single unit.  The fact that such a unification is even sought tells us something important about our expectations regarding the Universe. Our tradition of monotheism reinforces the assumption that our Universe must be governed by unity. Thus to the Jewish believer, science and monotheism go hand-in-hand.

  Furthermore, appreciating the rule of spiritual law helps us understand the need for a natural law, since Jews perceive G-d as lawmaker, not lawbreaker. This holds true for the laws of nature as well. Miracles therefore are considered a last resort, something to shake people into looking beyond the laws of nature.

  So we now know that G-d works through a system of natural law. Not because He has to, but because He chooses to. The creationists however, who look for G-d in miraculous events are committing a grave error. G-d’s fingerprints are to be found in nature as much as they are in the supernatural.  As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, an eminent Jewish thinker of the 19th century, explained, “Judaism is most anxious to make its adherents aware that all the phenomena of nature are subject to certain unchanging laws. Since Judaism itself is a system of laws...”

  Unlike other religious fundamentalists, Jews accept that science works. But unlike many scientists, we look deeper. For while it is praiseworthy to look for laws in nature; we should never disregard the Lawmaker.

  The Bible informs us that every human being is a descendent from one man. There’s even genetic evidence to support it. But what concerns us about this Biblical concept is its testament to the singularity of the Creator, as well as a demonstration of the infinite diversity latent within that singularity (since every individual comes from one person, yet no two are exactly alike!). Nonetheless, as different as we all are, we have been given certain common rules. This not only fosters social rapport and brotherhood, but divine allegiance to the “image of G-d” we must all enhance within ourselves. For many, this discovery remains elusive. Perhaps they should replace the telescope with a view of the heavens, with a microscope that peers into their souls.

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