Why do you believe in Science?

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    Ben Levi

    Torah Rocks

    I most definitely am not coming even close to stating that the Torah supports evolution as taught in Public Schools.

    1) from the time of Adam HaRishon it has been less then 6000 years. That’s a fact.

    2)HKBH created the various species as was described in Parshas Bereishis there was no “common descent”.


    When anyone’s first post to someone starts out with personal attacks or when all you can do is say “all you said was nonsense” which I did not do and no one can prove I did, they might as well admit they have no proof and no logic.

    Once again all the great rabbis who say common descent is

    opposite what Torah teaches are either right or wrong.

    If they are wrong then all the Torah they taught is questionable and cannot be taken as the truth of H-sh-m.

    That is the bottom line.

    If for example someone does not believe Noah’s Flood (whether because no account of it was found in Egyptian history or for any othrr reason) really happened then on what basis should G-ds giving the Torah on Har-Sini be believed?


    Ben Levi, thank you for clarifying that.


    Even if there may be theological “evidence” for the world being 6000 years old, there is ABSOLUTELY no scientific evidence for this claim.


    My husband and I were guests in a yishuv for shabbos and our host said the following:

    Bereshis bara elokim es hashamayim v’es ha’aretz. V’ha’aretz hayta tohu va’vohu. Ha’aretz HAYTA, meaning it existed in some form (tohu va’vohu) before Hashem made it into its present state as we now know it. Tohu va’vohu has no precise English translation, but roughly speaking you could call it a big mess. And how did evolution happen? Talk to geologists and they will tell you that it started with a big mess. It is not necessary to choose between Torah and science. There is always a Torah explanation for anything that science discovers.


    Scientific discoveries are not at odds with Torah because the Torah is not a scientific textbook. It never was intended to be an authoritative source of history, cosmology, geology, etc.


    The Talmud seems to address the issue of the Old Earth — since Aristotle presented evidence for the eternal age of matter. Yerushalmi Hagigah 2.1 begins with a Misna mentioning a very strong prohibition against investigating the pre-Creation history.

    Yerushalmi Hagigah 2.1 XII — XV further states that “It is the glory of G-d to conceal a thing” — pre-Creation history.

    How could the rabbis know that the search for that history will give rise to Atheism in the 20th century CE?


    Torah is the eternal truth given to us by G-d.

    So how could it have stories like the creation account and

    the Flood if scientists claim it did not happen that way?

    There is a direct contradiction between the rabbis who

    tell us such things happened and that humans did not descend

    with animals from a common ancestor over hundreds of millions

    of years, and the scientists who tell us we did.

    Both groups can’t be right.


    TR: There are Rishonim who say that even the Mabul was a Mashal and that nothing in Chumash before the story of Avraham Avinu is meant to be taken literally.

    Sisrei Torah are Sisrei Torah for a reason. It is not for us to discuss or debate. Everyone talking here about this minute point of 6000 years vs 6000+ years is silly. It is like my 5-year-old cousins debating which of their Pokemon cards is better when neither can actually play the game (then again, neither can I.) It’s just silly. There is evidence that the world is 6000+ years old (current scientific evidence). There is evidence that it is less than 6000 years old (Pashut P’shat in Chumash). Why can’t everyone just agree that these bits of evidence exist and we have no idea what really happened. HKBH created the world. That’s all we need to know. Anything more detailed than that in far beyond our comprehension anyway.

    And by the way, I think the people stating that the world is x years old and then debating the potential scientific evidence are over on Mah Lifnim as well. G-d created the world. He did it however He did it. We are not meant to discover how that was.


    Torah is the eternal truth given to us by G-d. So how could it have stories like the creation account and the Flood if scientists claim it did not happen that way?

    Who says there is a contradiction?

    One thing doesn’t necessarily follow the other.

    Weren’t you ever taught, as I was, that “the Torah is not [just] a history book”?

    Is the phrase “the finger of God” a falsehood in the opinion of those who say Hashem doesn’t have a finger? Do you disagree with them? Are Chazal saying the Torah is telling a lie when it writes “an eye for an eye,” which in their opinion is not to be taken literally?

    Who says something has to be true in every sense for it to be called true?

    That sounds ridiculous to me.

    If something is true in at least one possible sense, it can reasonably be called true.


    Ben Levi,

    You said,

    “Much of the evidence simply state’s that if this Theory is true then xyz makes sense. a Talmudist would state simply “So what?” and if Theory abc that I dream up would work it could also make sense in fact all you have to say is G-d created things to look this way and you lose all proof.”

    The Point is the evolution makes clear predictions about how things will look. To falsify evolution all that would have to happen is for one of those predictions not to pan out.

    Lets take the fossil record as an example.

    If evolution (common descent) happened the fossil record should show species coming onto the scene after other species and it should reflect that there where times when certain species alive today had not yet appeared. This is what is found WITHOUT EXCEPTION. A mammal fossil has NEVER been found in Cambrian rock. Never. Not once. If one was found that would disprove evolution.

    Now it is possible Hashem made it that way but saying that Hashem created all animal life in two literal days does not make that prediction. It is the same with a nested hierarchy and genetics.

    Now of course you can answer “because Hashem made it look that way” to anything, if you want you can say the world was created yesterday and Hashem just planted memories and evreything else that indicates otherwise as well. No one can prove you wrong, right? The point is that any claim makes predictions and has to be falsifiable in order to have a discussion about it or for it to be a scientific belief.


    Sam2 OK but that is not how most people seem to look at it.

    They like to cliam that common descent is set in stone and proven and supposedly can’t be challenged.

    Another problem is that if you can in light of ‘modern science’ reinterpret Torah, then other aspects could be reinterpreted as well.

    Dennis Prager for example once wrote an article on how you could supposedly keep Shabbos by just keeping it in spirit such as not turning on the radio while driving on Shabbos so you have a Shabbos atmosphere in the car.

    And you have all those against metzitza b’peh and against using chickens for kapporos all because of ‘enlightened understanding’.


    Yitaywing are you really telling me you don’t understand the difference between the sages interpreting Torah and scientists claiming to have ‘debunked it’ with scientific evidence?

    I ask sam2 and you if there are valid and accepted Rishonim or other teachings (by the Tanaim and the Sages since then) that say everything before Avroham Avinu is not to be taken literally, then why has this not been taught in yeshivah, at least not to me and not as far as I remember hearing, from any of the many rabbis I have talked to about it who never brought it up even when

    I told them that the seemingly ‘overwhelming’ scientific consensus is that they (dawkins for example) talk about it as if it totally disproves the Torah claims as I remember being taught what they supposedly were.

    It would be very easy for me to reconcile Torah with Evolution (including HEA) if I had learned of these Rishonim in yeshivah and if I had further been taught that these Rishonim were acccepted as a perfectly valid way of understanding Torah and the physical world.

    But I wasn’t and it keeps bringing me back to my bottom line question…Why throughout history has it not (from what I can see) been taught that way, in all the great yeshivahs?


    TR: Look at the Chizkuni (I think by Migdal Bavel) who says they were all allegory. And R’ Bachya famously explains how the world is about 14 billion years old.

    There is a very, very big difference between just admitting that we don’t understand something (that we knew all along that we never understood) and between reinterpreting Halachah. And no one is against MBP or Kapparos because of “enlightened understanding”. The Kapparos issue is that nowadays it’s not feasible to transport that many chickens without unnecessary cruelty and therefore it shouldn’t be done (major Chareidi Poskim have said this). The MBP claim is that it never was integral to the Milah and now we should abolish it if it is in fact dangerous.


    Sam2 my question is not did any sages ever say that.

    My question was if they did, why did it not become common and accepted

    teaching in the big and prestigious yeshivas down through the centuries?

    There must have been some reason why this was not taught to the average student in the average or more prestigious yeshivahs.

    When a rabbi states unequivocally that the Earth is fewer then 6000 years old and that humans do not share common descent with any other life form and then scientists claim we did, to say Torah says it’s possible is a reinterpretation from what all those rabbis teach.

    And yes the whole “we don’t need to eat meat or wear fur beacuse it is (supposedly) cruel, is largly if not all, because of supposed modern enlightenment.

    Same for MBP which is championed by the Toveia marrige crowd.

    These things were not so cruel or dangerous 200 years ago that the rabbis forbade them, when

    We had no modern transportation for chickens or sterilizing sprays for surgical utensils.

    I was told that (I believe it was) the Rema said that the blood of Bris Mila was to be spit out on the floor, which obviously means it had to have been in the mohels mouth which back I was told by the (older and long married, ie: not a kid) son of my rav that is the basis today for MBP.


    TR: Never in our history has Kapparos necessitated moving hundreds of thousands of chickens in fetid, boiling hot storage crates. There is nothing cruel about the Kapparos itself. The current mode of transportation, on the other hand, is obscene.

    By MBP, the claim is that 200 years ago they thought it wasn’t dangerous. Now we think that maybe it is. Everyone agrees that MBP was done. The only question is if it is necessary or was just by way of convenience. And the Mohel still gets the blood in his mouth even if there is a sterile tube in between.

    Ben Levi

    I actually find the post from Sam2 regarding the G-d not intending for us to understand certain things to be the best one so far on this thread.

    As for the Rishonim that state certain things in Torah are Meshalim.

    Yes they state them, however most of them are either written as “pshat” meaning a way to understand simply not not “pure emes” ( a distinction made by all rishonim when explaining Psukim ) and others were made without knowledge of Zohar.

    The Ramban does come close to calling those approaches Kefira as do many others. The Vilna Gaon in particular is quite famous for his complete rejection of that mehlech was disproven when the zohar was accepted.

    Ben Levi



    Our understanding of Maseh Bereshis is based upon what is written in the Torah.

    We accept the Torah as True based upon Mamad Har Sinai which took place in front of 3 million people and while many people have tried disproving our Mesirah none have succeaded.

    Now the scientific understanding is based upon “indirect proofs” which is essentially what a prediction is. There are numerous questions based on it.

    They include the problem of where are the Transitional fossils, the structures of certain organs and other more m athematical issues.

    Why do I have to provide a theory when I have one?

    Do I undestand every thing in it?

    Of course not!

    I am not a scientist, I have the capability of saying I do not know.

    And every case of me stating I do not know does not require me to make up an ansewer and then go around with a list of wonderful things that would be if my ansewer was correct.


    Sam2 all those kaporos are moved to different locations on modern smooth roads and can be done on airconditioned vehicles and the claim as far as I ever heard was the supposed cruelty of swinging it over the persons head, not about how many were transported.

    What changed that makes MBP so much more dangerous only now when those saying so are saying nothing about the fact that these days hospitals have an excessively high rate for causing new infections and no one is demanding hospitals be closed down.

    Also many of those who are against MBP are also against bris mila at all, and say that it is “barbaric” and “mutilation”

    I never heard tubes were used till modern times.

    I have heard from my ravs son that he had learned that tzaddikim he learned about have said that using a tube had a lowering effect on the spiritual level of the boy the bris was done, on.


    I heard a great vort from some Rav on Jrootradio he was saying how by the creation of the world everything is stated matter of fact with extreme brevity yet by the sin of Adam and kayin suddenly the Torah expands and goes into minute details. His point was that Hashem doesn’t want us to be busy with the maasei bereishis and all that. Its not for us if He wanted us to know more about it He would have revealed more. All we need to know is Bereishis bara Elokim es hashamayim vets haaretz. He also mentioned how the Ramban who was one of the greatest Risbonim said that he doesn’t know what tohu and vohu mean and what the rakia is. I just feel it’s vital to keep things in perspective and remember Hashem created the world however he created it and He doesn’t want us to be busy with this.



    The people who do the kaparos centers all almost all oiver on tzaar balei chayyim. This year on a very hot day a few 1000 chickens died due to heat and dehydration in Monsey. Its a business that I won’t no part of. The people running these places do not take proper care of the chickens they pack the crates too tightlyand do other cruel things.


    “It never was intended to be an authoritative source of history, cosmology, geology, etc.”

    That is what Rashi says to the very first pasuk in Chumash. Rambam explicitly states that parts of the Bereshit narrative is allegorical. Those of us who interpret Bereshit non-literally have some pretty big support.


    Ben Levi,

    You did provide a theory. You said that every form of life was created in the span of one week less then 6000 years ago. You also said that the sizes of animals changed about 4200 years ago (Mabul).

    Evolution is a theory that species descend from one another and all life on earth has descended from earlier life forms over billions of years going all the way back to a primitive common ancestor.

    The question is which theory is better supported by what we now know about the earth and life.

    The fossil record clearly supports the second theory. So does a nested hierarchy, so does genetics, so does the distribution of species etc etc.

    It’s that simple.

    Ben Levi


    Great post about Masei Bereishis, though I think the shiur was probably not speaking about Ramban since the Ramban actually explains Tohu and Bohu in depth if I recall corectly.


    Actually those who chose to rely on the Rambam for the proper approach to understanding Masei Bereishis are standing on pretty shaky ground.

    Chida was a pretty big follower of Rambam in Halacha yet in Shem HaGedolim the Chida records a tradition that Rambam had actually learnt Kabbala later in his life and was chozer from Moreh Nevuchim (the source of his approach to Chumash).

    It’s easy to find this just look up Rambam in Shem HaGedolim.

    Numerous Rishonim spoke out extremly vehmently against the Rambams approach including the Ramban who goes to great lengths to disprove much of it in his peirush to Chumash.

    Famously Rabbeinu Yonah regretted the manner in which he opposed the Rambam’s explanations but not the content.

    Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsh wrote a very sharp critique or MN in Nineteen Letters, so sharp that the Chazon Ish actually advised that it be left out of a Hebrew translation for fear people would misunderstand it.

    And the Vilna Gaon stated categorically that the Rambam’s approach was based on a lack of access to Zohar, when the Zohar was revealed and proven to be accurate it was accepted that the Rambam’s approach was not correct (The Gra’s words, I of course would not have the ability to say such things) and is not our Mesorah.

    In fact recently when a book was written about these matters and the Rambams position was used to justify certain views, Rav Chaim Kanievsky was asked about it. He ansewered the Gra already addressed the issue.

    Lastly there are Chassidic Authorities that actually state that Moreh Nevuchim is only to be understood Al Derech haKabballah and not simply, and the Rambam purposely wrote in riddles.

    So those who chose to interpet Maseh Bereishis non-literally in the manner you are referring to have are standing on some pretty shaky ground.

    In summary,

    1)There is a view that the Rambam’ Moreh Nevuchim was not to be taken literaslly.

    2) Even if the Rambam meant it literally he retracted it later in his life.

    3) Even if he did not retract it the overwhelming majority of Rishonim argued vehemently on the Rambams approach to Chumash,

    4)Even if the Rambam meant it literally there is strong grounds to state that the Rhe basis of the Rambams approach was based on a lack of Exposure to Kabbolla.


    I know I can always count on Dr. Hall to corroborate the reasonable things I have to say here.


    TR: Okay. Yes, their are anti-Jewish people that want to ruin our system of life. That is true. But there are also good, Frum people trying to be Ovdei Hashem who have legitimate (I’m not saying definitively either way; I’m just saying they are legitimate) Ta’anos on Kapparos and MBP. The fact that anti-Jewish people make similar claims is irrelevant. Fundamentalist Christians are anti-gay marriage. Most Frum Jews agree with them. That doesn’t mean that most Frum Jews believe everything that these Christians do.

    Charliehall: Yes, but the current reactionary ultra-rationalists have quite a bit less support. (They have support, true, but they go far beyond what the Rambam held in much of their rationalism.)

    Ben Levi


    Just to clarify my position.

    I did not state a theory, in fact I think I stated that I am not qualified to explain Maseh Bereshis, in fact other posters have pointed out that we are not supposed to delve in to certain matters period.

    What I did state is that the Torah tells us certain generalities, I accept the Torah as categorically true. As such Maseh Bereshis is true.

    While there may some who state that Maseh bereshis is not to be taken literally, I have enumerated some of the problems with that approach above.

    Furthermore I stated that while I am not qualified to give complete ansewers, a superficial reading of the Torah indicates that there was some levelevolvement of species.

    What the full paremeters of this evolvement was I do not know, nor frankly do I think you or 99.9% of people alive know.

    However I do understand that there may be some things found (incidently nothing that has been found yet) that may give rise to questions on my understanding of the Torah.

    Truthfully, given the current methodology of logic used by scientists I do not see myself taking much Theories that they propose seriously since I have been trained in a completley different method of analysis and logic.

    However things can always change.

    But the bottom line is that since as I stated above I have found that it is illogical to state the Torah is false I am forced to admit that I do not know everything and there are things that I do not understand.


    Charliehall, is that joke or just a bad, failed, and yet often used excuse? Rashi is discussing the Pasuk of Bereishis and says that the term Bereishis can’t be coming to say that Shamayim and Aretz were first.

    This thing with non-literal is way off track. But that’s how things work. Gadola Machlokes Shemegia Ad Kisei Hakavod. First they start with sources to disregard Chazal; then comes Torah Shebichsav.

    The Rambam is far, far from what his words are being used to protect.


    HaLeiVi: I think he meant the Rashi about not starting from HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem.

    Ben Levi: You should just stick with the Ta’anah that the Rambam is a relatively minority opinion and that later authorities have mostly rejected his Derech. Saying that he did retract and/or would retract if he knew Kaballah is very Dachuk at best and borders on insulting to the Rambam’s position. I don’t know who (if anyone) says that the Moreh is meant to be learned Al Pi Sod but, to be frank, [I’m not going to finish this sentence, but insert harsh phrase here].

    Ben Levi


    The Rogachover maintained the Rambam only coached his words in terms of Arabic and Greek philosophy but really every idea originated from Torah, The Radziner in Sefer HaHakdamah U’Pesicha maintained it all corresponds with Sod.

    For more info see page 287 of Rabbi J. Elias’s peirush on The Nineteen Letters.

    Furthermore I merely quoted what is written in Shem HaGedolim from the Chida regarding the Rambam’s Moreh.

    Lastly I wrote a list of reasons to show that there are multiple reasons not to go with Moreh Nevuchim.

    Far from being solid it is as shaky an approach as it gets.

    Again let me stress I personally am not able to take a stand ch”v on the Rambam but am merely reporting the views of Gedolei Yisroel from the era of the Rambam till our times.


    Ben Levi: I didn’t say that it is reliable to hold like the Rambam in this, only that claiming that the Rambam didn’t say what he said is, well, ridiculous. The Rambam was never Chozer. It just didn’t happen. To think that the most important Chazarah in history could have happened and no one knew for 700 years is a joke. Someone tricked the Chidah. I do not know what the Radziner said, but once again, saying that the Rambam wrote Al Pi Sod is just wrong. Laughably so. To say that is an insult to the Rambam and what he held. Until you show me the Radziner inside, I won’t believe he said that. And if he did, well, then I’m sure the Rambam gave him a good correction in Yeshivah Shel Ma’alah.


    It is not worth trying to prove or disprove Torah, God, etc. There will be evidence for both ways and people will side with what they want to side with.

    So why do we believe?

    1) We believe because our souls want us and inspire us to.

    If your soul does not do so, then you either don’t believe or are struggling with it.

    2) We believe because those who love us train us and nurture our souls to believe. A good person must have a first allegiance to the training of those who love him.

    Is this not true for every religion?

    Yes it is. And so what. If you were raised Jewish, your first allegiance is to be Jewish. That is the team you were put on.

    Do people sometimes change teams? Yes, but you need a very good reason to do it. Converts find these compelling reasons. If a person is compelled in a certain direction, then they must carefully explore it. If not, just stay on your team.


    No reason to get bent out of shape over evolution. If it is true then it is true. If not not.

    The Torah does not say every exact detail. Moreover, it is commonly accepted that maasei bereishis represents the sefiros much more than it represents pshut pshat. The pshut pshat is still generally well regarded, but it doesn’t have to be exactly literal. It might be, but it doesn’t have to be. The Torah’s surface pshat is not giving a physics lesson. It is telling us how to generally relate to what took place.

    Aside from all that, 99% of questions have answers. Often, the true answer is only revealed after the easier or more comfortable answers are proven false.

    Ben Levi


    No one tricked the Chida and it wasn’t “not known” for 700 years as the Chida cites a tradition he heard from another senior Godol you can look it up.

    I would be hesitant to say anything th Chida felt worthy of inclusion in his seforim is “ridiculous”.

    As for the Radziner, I gave you a source you can look it up.


    Ben Levi: The “Chazarah” never happened. The Rambam (who wrote until the end of his life) and none of his correspondents nor his son mention it anywhere. So either the Chida was wrong or was mislead. I chose to go with the latter. If you want to claim the former, that’s on you.


    Ben Levi,

    Despite what you keep saying about having “no understanding of what happened during Maaseh Bereishis” you are insisting that the beginning of Bereishis be read literally and that you know for a fact that all life was created in the same literal week less then 6000 years ago. The problem is that this Hypothesis has been proven wrong. Things do not look as they should if this is what happened, and they look as they should if common descent is true.

    If there is a minority opinion that Bereishis be read not literally that minority opinion has been proven right by the Metzius. It doesn’t matter how much of a minority he may be or who may have said that he didn’t really mean what he wrote, because he has been proven right practically. The Metzius is that he was right.


    YIW That story about those chickens dying in the heat is terrible and certainly things like that must stop.

    I do not think that means that all places where kaporos are done are automatically guilty of such cruelty.

    Similar charges have been made against meat processing plants

    and yet within the frum community, we don’t have large numbers (if any at all) saying we should all stop eating meat.

    Remember how easy it is to smear all Jews as “dishonest” because of Bernie Madhoff and a few smaller crooks who happened to be Jews, did such things.

    So I would not be so quick to believe everyone running a kaporos place is necesssrily wrong, or that those who do, mean the whole concept must be wrong.


    Sam2 I can believe that sincere people trying as you say to be Ovdey

    H-sh-m, can have questions about MBP and about Kaporos.

    But usually (I’m not saying necessarily everyone, but probably most)

    of those who have their minds totally made up that such practices are wrong and should be forbidden, also have other serious problems in other areas of Yiddishkeit that show (Or would if their neighbors and others in the community knew about all their private thoughts about such things) they really are not so frum or really have all the sincere emmunah and bitachon they seem to the outside world like to have in such abundance.

    I knew for example someone who was the epitome of this

    type of person.

    She was well liked by her bais yaakov students and a perfect mother and friend and hostess etc…

    But she hated kaporos and later told me she thought that the rabbis

    had just made up the halachas to benefit men and that women had been

    cheated by the male dominated system.

    And yet anyone who knew her would have been totally certain she

    was the ultimate frum wife, mother, teacher and friend.

    Only G-d can look into someones heart and know for sure if they

    are as sincere an Ovdey H-sh-m as they appear to be.

    Many have talked to me about the issues about these practices and in many cases I have also learned some intimate details about their private

    lives and about their sincerity, and every one of them who

    thought kaporos and/or MBP were totally wrong, also had serious issues with belief in Torah in other areas, as well.

    But their friends and neighbors and even their own families (some have confided in me and I have kept their confidences) in some cases, simply did not know, and thought they had as much emmunah and bitachon as anyone could hope to have.

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