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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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Schroeder The Science of God Chapter 3 - section one

Updated Thru 1/14/2015

This post will begin discussing Chapter 3 of Gerald Schroeder’s book the Science of God ,1997 .{Schroeder has a newer edition - so the page numbers may not match up exactly. Most if not all of my post will probably still apply to his newer edition}

Related posts are The Science of God Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and the series of my posts began on Chapter 9.

Like those previous  posts I will mainly focus of Schroeder's  use or misuse of our holy texts. 

Page 43 footnote 4  Schroeder cites Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 1:3 to support the notion the 6 days of Genesis are the normal 24 hour days. Schroeder can find such support in Ramban. Of course, the Universe is billions of years old.  Schroeder will argue that from a certain vantage point the Universe is about 6,000 years old while from another its billions. After all, according to relativity  time is relative right ? The Torah just should have said the universe is billions of years old. Then it would not require the mental gymnastics of Schroeder’s  'creative insight' that part of Genesis is from one vantage point and the other part of Genesis is from a different vantage point. {ETA 12/20/2014 It is clear the Torah text is not teaching us Big Bang Theory.This why Schroeder needed to write his book, to explain to us what the Torah 'really' means.}

Page 43 footnote 5 Schroeder cites Ramban’s commentary on Exodus 21:2 and Leviticus 25:2 to  support the notion that the six 24 hour days of Genesis contain “all the secrets and ages of the Universe.” By secrets Schroeder is suggesting Ramban may have meant  the Big Bang billions of years ago or that the first 6 or 7 days of creation are calibrated differently in the Torah from the days thereafter. Schroeder is guilty of quote mining and it will be demonstrated he has distorted Ramban.

Lets begin with Ramban’s commentary on Levit 25:2:  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the LORD.

Ramban explains the “secrets” as follows. Ramban refers to his own commentary on Genesis 2:3 {And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.} In Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 2: 3 Ramban explains the world will exist for only 6,000 years. [This is not the current scientific view - I wonder how Schroeder could respond in an intellectually honest fashion. Would he invent yet more vantage points ? ] Ramban then cites Genesis  Rabbah 19:14  ‘A day of the holy one, blessed be he, is a thousand years’ and comes up with the following equation. The first two days of the world correspond to the first two thousand years of the world.  The third day of the world correspond to the third thousand year period which begins with Abraham at 48 years old. The fourth day of the world correspond to the fourth thousand year period which begins 72 years after the first Sanctuary was built. The fifth day of the world corresponds to the fifth thousand year period which begins 172 years after the Second Temple is destroyed. Ramban then explains the Messiah will come in the sixth period of the World, specifically 118 years after the completion of five thousand years. [OOPS, turns out Ramban was wrong since  the Messiah has not come.] The seventh day of the world Sabbath, alludes to the World to Come.

Ramban also explains the seven days of the week allude to that which was created in the process of creation,  and the seven years of the Sabbatical cycle refer to what  will occur during the creation of all ‘ the days’ of the world. Ramban then links denial of the law of the Sabbatical year with denial of the work of creation and the World to Come- ‘the land of eternal life’;  and Sabbatical year non observance is punishable by exile. Ramban is teaching theology - the importance of Sabbath and Sabbatical year, not scientific theories of relativity, different vantage points to measure time or cosmic clocks.

Also, regarding Ramban’s claims of hints of secrets,  Rabbi Chavel guides us to Exodus 21:2, which is now discussed.

Exodus 21:2   {If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. }

Ramban discusses seven as a chosen figure as in Sabbath cycles, Sabbatical year cycles and Jubilee cycles and writes they all point the subject the secret of the days of the world from Genesis. My discussion above on Genesis 2:3 discloses what secrets Ramban had in mind. Moreover, Rabbi Chavel cites Weinstock’s  discussion of Cabala that illuminates what other secrets Ramban is referring to -that the Universe has periodic cycles of  seven thousand years. Six thousand years of growth and activity and a seventh of rest - destruction. This process repeats seven times giving 49 thousand years, the 50th the Jubilee when all existence returns to it’s beginnings.  This process applies to planet earth and to the worlds above us. Not only is the Cabala scientifically incorrect, we find once again Schroeder misconstrues our holy texts.

{Side note: Ramban is correct on the importance of seven in the Torah. Seven is ubiquitous in the ancient near east and most likely related to moon cults or to the seven planets. For example from the Sabbatical Cycle or Seasonal Pattern ? Reflections on a New Book  (Kapelrud's Baal in the Ras Shamra 1952) by , C. Gordon in Orientalia Volume 22, 1953 From Ugaritic Literature: Mot's death at the hands of Baal (or Anath) lasted 7 years. "...Seven years may Baal fail, yea 8 the Rider of Clouds; let there be no dew, norain..."
Text 52 deals with the ushering in of a 7 year cycle of plenty.
"Moreover, other texts  such as  'seven years the god is ful' (75:II:45) tie in with this 'cyclicity', regardless who the god may be."
"Seven-year famines result from the  slaying of a hero such as Gilgamesh, Aqhat and probably Saul and Jonathan.
People feared unseasonable drought, locust plagues, blight, ....
When a succession of sterile years occurred life became unbearable. "Such catastrophes were coupled in the minds of the people of Mesopotamia, Ugarit,Israel, Egypt etc. with the seven-motif and therefore it occurs to us that while seasonal pattern is ruled out, Sabbatical Cycle fits the facts. The land is to lie fallow in the seventh year so that the next Sabbatical Cycle will be a fertile one. This suggests original fertility rites in conjunction with the  Sabbatical Cycle. That the institution goes back to pre-Israelite origins is evident from the extrabibilical texts we have cited, especially those from Ugarit."}


 Page 45 Footnote 7, 8, 9 - Schroeder cites Leviticus Rabba 29:1, Jerusalem Talmud Avodah Zarah 1:2, Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 13B, 14A to support the notion the Bible Calendar starts with Genesis 1:27 {And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them }, and not Genesis 1:1 {In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.}

Even if the Bible Calendar starts (whatever that means) with Genesis 1:27 it does not imply that the earlier days are meant to be read from a different vantage point i.e cosmic time. The Bible calendar may have started (whatever that means) with mankind’s creation for theological reasons.

Lets see what the sources say.

Leviticus Rabba 29:1 First it mentions that according to some Rabbis the world was created on the 25th of Elul. The commentators thus conclude that Adam was created on New Years day , the first of Tishri which is the sixth day from the 25th of Elul. 

Jerusalem Talmud Avodah Zarah 1:2 says  according to one the world was created in Nissan.  According to another the world was created in Tishre. The Talmud provides another opinion and explains the world was created on New Years day [ Neusner adds of Tishre]. Jacob Neusner  1992 translation.   

Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 13B, 14A  - I could find nothing related to the matter. Is this another Schroeder phantom citation ?

So we have conflicting dates of when day one occurs and when Adam is created and what actually occurs on New Years Day. It also gives pause to Orthodox Judaism obsession with festival observance at particular times of the year. For example the Sabbath day observed today may not relate sequentially  to the original day seven Sabbath. None of the sources imply the first six days of Genesis differ from any other day. One source starts New Years day on the day Adam is created and this could be why Schroeder claims the Biblical Calendar starts with the creation of Adam. But another source has the creation on New Years day.

Page 46 Quoting Schroeder “The six days are not included in the calendar because within those (six twenty-four hour ) days are all the secrets and ages of the Universe.”   The secrets Schroeder shoehorns into the Torah do not correspond to the secrets in the very sources he cites ! Nor has Schroeder provided any source that the reason the Bible Calendar does not start on Day one is because of secrets. {ETA 12/24/2014 Schroeder has not justified his assertion that the Genesis's first six days are seen from a different vantage point or a different clock than after day six.}

{ETA 1/14/2105 And there is a discussion in Talmud Avodah Zara 9b that also strongly suggests that the first six days are nothing but an Earth reference frame. 

 It is taught: "From the year four thousand two hundred and thirty-one of the Creation of the World onward, if one says unto you. ‘Buy thee a field that is worth a thousand  denar for one denar,’ do not buy it." 

This sentence speaks of 4231 years since the creation, not billions. If there were two different reference frames (one for the first  six days of creation and another reference frame thereafter) the Talmud should have not lumped them together as 4231 years since creation.  It is also an example of the Talmud counting days from the first day of creation and not Adams' creation. And it is a real world application of treating the first six days from an ordinary Human Earth day frame of reference.}


{ETA 12/18/2014 Page 51 Schroeder claims that ‘time’ for the  first 2 days of creation can not be Earth based, because there was no Earth till the third day. Not so Schroeder. First many Bible Scholars including some of our great Jewish commentators including Rashi (see his commentary on Genesis), explain the Earth may have been around on day one - See Kalam Repudiated Based on Theology. Second, assuming God was the author of Genesis he would know how long a day could take from an earth based perspective.}

{ETA 1/10/2015 Anchor Bible Genesis E.A. Speiser 1964 
Page 9 Regarding Gen 1 - The Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elis - is in striking correspondences in both details and order of the events with Genesis 1.  It is clear the Bible approach is closely related to traditional Mesopotamian beliefs. The similarities include and are in the same order and type of creation: A primeval chaos, Light emanation from gods , firmament creation, dry land creation, luminaries creation, man creation, god resting.
Speiser explains Gen 1 has God creating light.  He goes on to write the Babylonians did not copy the Hebrews since cuneiform accounts such as the Enuma antedate in substance the Bible statements on the subject. There is no basis in fact for assuming an unidentified ultimate source for both Hebrew and Babylonian accounts.

JPS Torah Commentary Genesis by Nahum Sarna
Page 7  Verse 4-Light -  The first creation by God's utterance. The notion of light independent of the sun most likely derives from the observation that the sky is illuminated even on cloudy days and that brightness precedes the rising sun. In both situation no sun is visible. Verse 5 God called - According to the conception in  the ancient near east possessing no name was equivalent to non existence. "Name calling was thus associated with creation and by extension, with domination, for the one who gives a name has power over the object."}

{ETA 12/29/2014 And Genesis most likely means day and night can exist independent of the Sun and Moon. Day one - Genesis 1:3 - God creates light and then in Genesis 1:4 God divides light from dark. That is how you have a day independently of Sun and Moon. Then on Day four -  Genesis1:14 The Sun and Moon are created to provide a way to provide signs to measure days, years and seasons.}

This is a good stopping point, and hope to write future posts that  will continue with the rest of Chapter three , and Chapter four.

{Chapter 3 is continued in Schroeder The Science of God Chapter 3  - section two

Ramban - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus -  Translated by Rabbi Chavel 

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