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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Science of God - Schroeder 1997 Part 1

Updated thru 3/23/2016

Prelude and some background. The Torah/Bible is often unclear. This has given rise to thousands of pages of commentaries often contradictory to each other. Then  there are thousands of Midrashim, stories, myths, legends and folklore to be found in Jewish holy texts which themselves are often unclear and contradictory. People can selectively quote, partially quote out of context or interpret holy texts to support virtually any hypothesis.

{Update 2/16/2014 To give the reader a sense of the importance,  consider this simple example which can be multiplied thousands of  times. Regarding the Genesis creation story - Beth (meaning the school of) Shammai says the Heaven was created before the Earth. Beth Hillel - the earth was created before the heavens, Rav Simeon says they were created simultaneously. (Midrash Rabbah Genesis 1:15) }

{Update 2/6/2014 Attempts  to "reconcile this 7 day creation story with evolution, geological and cosmological evidence  of the age of the universe are absurd, requiring a twisting of the words of the text in ways they never remotely meant". "Of course the Biblical picture is not a factual, literal account of the universe's  origin. The evidence to this effect is overwhelming". (Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation 2001 by Richard E, Friedman Page 14)}

{{ETA 3/23/2016 Understanding Genesis by Nahum Sarna 1966

He translates Gen 1:1 “ When God began to create the Heaven and Earth..”

Beginning Page 2 Regarding Genesis Creation stories:

“It is obvious” none of the stories are based on human memory, nor are they modern science accounts of the physical world’s origin or nature. The stories are Non Scientific. It is a naive and futile exercise to attempt to reconcile Bible creation stories and modern science.  Any “correspondences” discovered or ingeniously established are nothing more than coincidence.  

The book also provide many points of contact with ancient near east mythology with Genesis creation. stories. Beginning page 39 The  Flood story - The Torah used very ancient traditions adapted for it’s own purpose. }

To keep this post limited in scope and length it will only discuss a small portion of Schroeder’s  Chapter 9 The Origins of Humankind. It will only focus on Schroeder's use (or in my opinion misuse) of Rambam (Miamonidies born 1135) to support Schroeder’s  hypothesis that over 6000 years ago (roughly) there were creatures looking human but were not really human. According to Schroeder Adam was different than these creatures because Adam had a God given neshama (soul). For brevity call the creatures Soul-less Humans. (I hope to write future posts that will strongly suggest Schroeder has misused the Talmud and at least misleads intentionally or not with Rashi's and Ramban's commentary.)

{eta - I have subsequently written  Chapter 4Chapter 3 and Chapter 2 and Chapter 1 discussing those chapters of the Science of God book. }

Schroeder cites Rambam’s  Guide to the Perplexed Part one Chapter 7 to support his hypothesis. (My copy is  translated from the original arabic text M. Friedlander,second edition, revised throughout.)

Before providing Rambams complete Chapter 7 text, (that Schroeder very selectively quotes for his own purposes), recall a popular saying regarding evil misbehaving people: They are not human, or they are like animals. It appears to me this is what Rambam was referring to - evil misbehaving human beings, not the  pre Adam Soul-less Humans of  Schroeder.

Chapter 7 refers to Chapter 1 that discusses the word zelem in Genesis 1:27: In the zelem (image/form/shape..) of God he created him. Rambam holds God incorporeal and so is faced with the challenge of explaining the text. Rambam's solution is:

Page 13 "The term zelem, on the other hand, signifies the specific form, viz., that which constitutes the
essence of a thing, whereby the thing is what it is ; the reality of a thing in so far as it is that particular being. In man the " form " is that constituent which gives him human perception : and on account of this intellectual perception the term zelem is employed in the sentences"

Page 14 "As man's distinction consists in a property which no other creature on earth possesses, viz., intellectual perception, in the exercise of which he does not employ his senses, nor move his hand or his foot, this perception has been compared though only apparently, not in truth to the Divine perception, which requires no corporeal organ. On this account, i.e., on account of the
Divine intellect with which man has been endowed, he is said to have been made in the form and likeness of the Almighty, but far from it be the notion that the Supreme Being is corporeal, having a material form."

In short, intellectual perception is what distinguishes a human being from other creatures.

On page 56 Rambam says the noun nefesh (soul) has various meanings: Vitality common to all living beings, blood, reason, the part of man remaining after death, and will.
"Another signification of the term [nefesh] is "reason," that is, the distinguishing characteristic of man, as in " As the Lord liveth that made us this soul " (Jer. xxxviii. 16)."

(Schroeder uses the term neshama, but Rambam is equating nefesh with the essence of man, not the neshama. There is also the issue of zelem versus nefesh. Without getting bogged down in theological discussions and Rambam’s meaning, Schroeder can reasonably interpret Rambam  that the "soul" is what distinguishes man from other creatures.)

Here between the dashed lines is the entire Chapter 7 in which  Rambam, explains the verb Yalad..
It is well known that the verb yalad means " to bear," "they have born (ve-yaledu) him children "
(Deut. xxi. 15). The word was next used in a figurative sense with reference to various objects in nature, meaning, "to create," e.g." before the mountains were created"  (yulladu) (Ps. xc. 2) ;
also,"to produce," in reference to that which the earth causes to come forth as if by birth, e.g.,
" He will cause her to bear (holidab) and bring forth " (Isa. Iv. 10). The verb further denotes, " to bring forth," said of changes in the process of time, as though they were things which were born, e.g., "for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (yeled) (Prov. xxvii. I). Another figurative use of the word is its application to the formation of thoughts and ideas, or of opinions resulting from them ; comp. " and brought forth (ve-yalad) falsehood " (Ps. vii. 14) ; also,
" and they please themselves in the children (yalde) of strangers" (Isa. ii. 6), i.e., "they delight in the opinions of strangers." Jonathan the son of Uzziel paraphrases this passage, "they walk in the customs of other nations."

A man who has instructed another in any subject, and has improved his knowledge, may in like manner be regarded as the parent of the person taught, because he is the author of that knowledge ; and thus the pupils of the prophets are called "sons of the prophets," as I shall explain when treating of the homonymity of ben (son). In this figurative sense, the verb yalad (to bear) is employed when it is said of Adam, " And Adam lived an hundred and
thirty years, and begat (va-yoled) a son in his own likeness, in his form " (Gen. v. 3). As regards the words," the form of Adam, and his likeness," we have already stated (ch. I.) their meaning. Those sons of Adam who were born before that time were not human in the true sense of the word, they had not "the form of man." With reference to Seth who had been instructed, enlightened and brought to human perfection, it could rightly be said, "he (Adam) begat a son in his likeness, in his form." It is acknowledged that a
man who does not possess this " form " (the nature of which has just been explained) is not human, but a mere animal in human shape and form. Yet such a creature has the power of causing harm and injury : a power which does not belong to other creatures. For those gifts of intelligence and judgment with which he has been endowed for the purpose of acquiring perfection, but which he has failed to apply to their proper aim, are used by him for wicked and mischievous ends ; he begets evil things, as though he merely
resembled man, or simulated his outward appearance. Such was the condition of those sons of Adam who preceded Seth. In reference to this subject the Midrash says :" During the 130 years when Adam was under rebuke he begat spirits, i.e., demons ; when, however, he was again restored to divine favour " he begat in his likeness, in his form." This is the sense of the passage, " Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and he begat in his likeness, in his form " (Gen. v. 3).


Pay particular attention beginning with Rambams words "A man who has instructed another in any subject...." is like the father of the taught man. Rambam then explains the meaning of Genesis "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son [Seth] in his own likeness, in his form ". Unlike Seth who was INSTRUCTED and brought to human perfection, Adams prior sons were not.

Rambam goes on to say - "For those gifts of intelligence and judgment with which he has been endowed for the purpose of acquiring perfection, but which he has failed to apply to their proper aim, are used by him for wicked and mischievous ends ; he begets evil things, as though he merely resembled man, or simulated his outward appearance."

Rambam has just said of Schroeder's alleged Soul-less humans that they have intelligence, except they use their intelligence for wicked ends. But if they have intelligence that must mean they have souls and can not be Schroeder's Soul-less human beings.

Schroeder seems  to have taken Rambam out of context. Rambam is not saying there where human beings prior to Adam. Nor is Rambam saying there was a change in humanity from say a pre Adam type of human being to a post Adam human being. Nor is Rambam saying Adams prior children are in a literal sense non human beings or Soul-less.

Rather, Rambam is teaching a moral lesson.

{ETA 1/18/2015 In Chapter L from the same text :
"It is one of the fundamental principles of the Law that the Universe has been created ex nihilo, and that of the human race, one individual being, Adam, was created. As the time which elapsed from Adam to Moses was not more than about two thousand five hundred years, people would have doubted the truth of that statement if no other information had been added, seeing that the human race was spread over all parts of the earth in different families and with different languages, very unlike the one to the other."

In other words, according to Rambam - 'Adam' was CREATED about 6000 years ago. Not that Adam evolved from prior hominids. Only by an enormous speculation can Schroeder claim Rambam means Adam's creation was an infusion of a soul into a Neanderthal.}

Continued here Part 2

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