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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 9, 2014

The Science of God - Schroeder Chapter 1

UPDATED THRU DEC 13,2014

My Part One began a discussion of Chapter 9 (origin of Humankind) from Gerald Schroeder's 1997 book the Science of God. After completing Part 5 it became clear Schroeder was not being intellectually honest nor logical and moreover was consistently misinterpreting our holy texts.

{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}

{ETA 1/10/2015 A fellow who has a PHD in Physics has written a sequence of posts on Gerald Schroeder's article on the reconciliation of the Torah and Genesis. Gerald Schroeder's article is found at AISH a Jewish outreach organization.  See http://www.reddit.com/r/Judaism/comments/1uuc81/how_gd_created_the_universe_in_6_days_when_we/cem9zcz  or http://jewishatheist.tumblr.com/post/80061321794/in-the-beginning.  I recommend reading at least one those links.}

It is important to check sources. I encourage any reader of my blog to see if I misstate or mislead regarding any of the sources I cite in any of my posts. 

Like my prior posts on Schroeder's Chapter 9, the focus will mainly be Schroeder's citations of Jewish holy texts. I  hope to cover Schroeder's Chapter Two thru Chapter Four in future posts. Schroeder often footnotes Ramban. And Ramban  in his introduction to his commentary on Genesis writes "I will begin to write novel interpretations On the explanation of the Torah."  The same can be said for Schroeder - he writes some novel interpretations on Jewish holy texts.

This post will cover Chapter One.

Page 5 note 3 Schroeder cites  Ramban on Exodus 25:24 to support the notion that consistency of nature is a tenet of  the Bible and that the laws of nature were adequate to channel our universe toward the development of life. 

I am not exactly sure what Schroeder means.  Ramban directly refers to Genesis 1:31 the sixth day after all the fashioning and creating was completed. Ramban is not saying that on day 1 or day 2 or day 3 or day 4 or day 5 or day 6  God's involvement was not necessary. 


Moreover, the Torah allows miracles which are the violation of natural laws according to many commentators. Ramban himself distinguishes between hidden miracles and open miracles. The former can be claimed by a skeptic as part of the natural order while the latter can not be denied as they are clearly an intervention of God. (Notes on Ramban Genesis 17:1)

{ETA 12/13/2014 Ramban on Deut 34:11 "All the prophets wrought miracles through prayer, such as the halting of the Sun for Joshua...";  "So too the halting of the Sun for Joshua was  certainly in view of all Israel, and all the kings of Canaan saw it - Those who fought against him [on that day] as well as the remaining ones. Our Rabbis also mention that people saw it from one end of Earth to the other [Abodah Zarah 25a]. Scripture also lauds it exceedingly, saying And There was no day like that before it or after it, that the Eternal hearkened to the voice of man.[Joshua 10:14]." }

I do agree that with time, the 'laws of nature', natural  environmental impacts such meteors and the changing environments of earth were adequate to channel our universe toward the development of life, without the need of supernatural beings. There is no reason why we should not believe so - see Proof of God from Origin of Life

Page 10 note 8 Schroeder cites Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 11b, 12a to support the notion that the Talmud claims the opening chapter of Genesis is presented in a manner that "conceals information".

The Talmud {more precisely the Mishna} narrates that certain topics require a Teacher and only with a precise  number of students present.  An exception is made for a knowing Sage. The Topics include Forbidden (sexual) relations, Creation, and the 'Chariot' of  Ezekial.

The Talmud 'deduces' the requirement by speculating on various verses in the Bible.

Also, according to the Talmud additional insights can be gleaned from every entry in the Torah, not just Genesis. So why was Genesis singled out by the Talmud ? The Talmud does not tell us. Nor have these Genesis additional insights been recorded. Is Schroeder claiming that he has discovered what these hidden additional insights might be ?

I heard one reason for this requirement was that studying creation may lead to heretical views. 

Schroeder seems to be implying the Genesis additional insights are referring to scientific theories.  Yet the Talmud has not mentioned that reason. 

But Ramban on Genesis 1:1 and Rambam in his introduction to the Guide for the Perplexed do relate the additional insights to science. 

Regarding alleged hidden scientific secrets hidden in the Torah - any of these alleged secrets may be found in other ancient cultures/ Greek/ Hindu philosophy/cosmology or are cases of modern knowledge retrofitted into the Torah or anybody's holy texts. (This has been documented in my prior posts regarding Chapter 9, and  will be documented in relation to other chapters in future posts.)

Jewish apologetics began thousands of years ago to defend the Torah and Judaism against whatever was the science/philosophy of the day. Philo attempts to reconcile Judaism with Greek Philosophy and Rambam with Plato-Aristotle. It continues to this day, witness Schroeder. (We now know the ancient Greek sciences are defective.) 

Page 10 - quoting Schroeder "Literalism is simply not an effective way to extract meaning from the Bible."  I will add nor is speculating or inventing interpretations which is so common in Jewish holy texts, among Rabbis and people like Schroeder. We can only understand the Bible by studying ancient comparative religions, languages and their related texts. This has shown how closely related the Tenach's 'science', laws, rituals, stories, and mythology  are to these other ancient near east cultures. It has also illuminated some of the distinctions.

Continued in Chapter 2

Sources

Ramban Genesis, Exodus Translated by Rabbi Chavel 1971, 1973 respectively.
Rambam - Guide for the Perplexed Translated by M. Friedlander, second edition 1904-1951

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