Shabbat Parashat Tazria | 5768
Religion and Science- part VI (from Perakim B'Machshevet Yisrael, ch. 30)
Rav Yisraeli gathered classical and more contemporary rabbinic views on the interaction between religion/belief and science. We present his sources in an abridged, free translation form.
7. On the Matter of Contradictions Between Torah and Science (continued)
Moriah pp. 167-172 (Dr. Yitzchak Breuer)
[We saw last time how the intellect is not capable of dealing with everything in the world. We saw the pasuk, “For He commanded and they were created and had them stand for all time; He placed a rule that will not be violated.” This relates to creation as Hashem accomplished it and, in contrast, as it is seen by human intellect after that point.]
The wisdom of nature (science) is correct that according to its means of recognition, the world is millions of years old because its intellectual means are based on cause and effect. Science’s investigations into the depths of nature do not bring clear proofs precluding creation ex nihilo. Sechel (intellect), which enables science, rejects ex nihilo just as the ear rejects a flower’s smell. Hashem’s ten statements created our world before he set “the rule that will not be violated,” a rule that was not used in creation. Science can find the rules of nature only after Hashem presented it to the world, after creation. The Torah is not a text book to teach creation ex nihilo, an event that was not given to sechel to understand in depth. Rather, within the realm of man’s desires, he is to know that the Creator created the world with a purpose. The Torah and its account of creation teach man that Hashem who is free gave of His freedom to man as well as of His wisdom. He made creation fit human comprehension through “intellectual clothing” so that man can have dominion over it and complete the plan of creation as partners with their Father and King.
Science denies the possibility of miracles. Is there a contradiction? “And if a creation, Hashem will create, and the earth shall open its mouth.” The true miracle is creation, and the rule of sechel stands still. Science has no part in miracles. Human intellect cannot hear the sound of Hashem that “said and it was so.” Only if Hashem gives man a new instrument to capture the sound will man “see it.” Creation and miracles are Divine revelations in which science has no part. Science’s job is to give man dominion over that which Hashem made, not to provide a methodological outlook on the world and life.
8. The Realm of Science and the Realm of Belief
Techumin p. 35, 13 (S.Z. Shragay)
Science answers the question of what, penetrating the secrets of perceived existence. Judaism asks about the world’s paths, demanding an answer about that which precedes and succeeds them: who created us?
There is a never-ending call to man to recognize himself, through which he will come to recognize his Maker. Man’s desire for self-recognition is engrained in his nature. He wants to know the origin of his life - his G-dly element. A Heavenly voice calls out to him: “Raise up your eyes to the heavens,” awakening him to contemplate and recognize Who created these.“The superiority of man over animal” – is to know the “null,” in other words, the infinite. An animal knows only what its eyes see, that which is beneath it. Man not only sees that which exists but recognizes its essence. With his wisdom, he can grasp even that which is above him, but he cannot grasp the reason behind the “what,” behind existence. He cannot answer why existence is the way it is and not different or who was and is the cause in the past, present and future for the rules of nature, and why nature is as it is…. He can arrive at one answer: “The heavens speak Hashem’s honor”… This is the only answer; all others are smashed at the stone by the question of “the beginning,” the first moment of the secret of “null” that preceded “existence.”
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.
May their memory be a blessing.