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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.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part Two

Updated thru 11/22/2016

Please at least skim The Challenge of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin Part One.

Part Two - Cosmology 

Page 176  RS- The Lubabvitch Rebbe claims that Rabbi Lipschitz wrote certain apologetics to enhance Judaism in the eyes of the secular world, but that Rabbi Lipschitz himself  did not believe that apologetics himself. Rabbi Kanievsky claims Rabbi Lipschitz wrote it for the sake of people distanced from Judaism.  

When reading some Kiruv (outreach) material or having discussions with some Kiruv workers or some Orthodox  Jews I have been perplexed if the authors or those individuals believe what they pontificate.  If  Orthodox Judaism is true why would any Orthodox Jew have to engage in deceptions ?  

See the The Tenacity Of Unreasonable Beliefs 

Page 188 RS discredits the reconciliation of science and Genesis found in Schroeder’s book The Science of God and corrects a few of Schroeder misinterpretations, translations of the Torah and some holy commentators. 

RS was not writing a review of Schroeder's book so RS’s critique is very limited. For a more thorough  review of most of the Schroeder book see the sequence begun here The Science of God -Schroeder - Chapter 9  and here The Science of God - Schroeder which reviews Chapter 1 thru 4

Page 191 Here we come to one of RS's resolutions. The order in creation is not physical reality, but a conceptual order.

But the Torah could have informed this thus not misleading us in so many ways.  

Page 198 RS explains why the Torah does not give accurate information for the development of the Universe. It was meant to have layers of meaning. It was written for men, women and children of all ages in different time periods and cultures. Also, each generation provides new insights and new meanings.

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that with out providing misleading and false information.  Information we find out is false millennium after the Torah was written.

The apologetic that  each generation  provides new insights and new meanings seems to be a religious way of writing that past generations understood the Torah incorrectly.  Now we know better. It is also a way the ‘committed’ believers can bury themselves in an impenetrable coffin of non falsifiability. 

Orthodox  Jews claim they have special insight to understand the Torah thru an alleged Oral Tradition back to Mount Sinai.  If the old meanings were wrong, then exactly what are the special insights going back to Mount Sinai ? And how can these new insights and new meanings be valid as Oral Tradition ? They are new, and thus not part of oral tradition. Religious may then begin a debate on what ‘oral tradition’ consists of picking and choosing what to include. They may claim XYZ is part of Oral Tradition, but not ABC. This becomes another way to make the Torah and Oral Tradition non falsifiable and or undefinable. 

Page 200 Rs - The account has to be presented so as to be grasped by young and simple minds thru the generations.. 

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that without providing misleading and false information.  Information we find out is false millennium after the Torah was written.

Page 200 RS- Also there are hidden secrets in the Torah.

What sort of secrets ? Scientific secrets ? Mystical secrets ? Are these secrets really just imaginative speculations ?  Retroactive  readings ? 

I don’t find RS's apologetics compelling.

See Proof of God From Secrets in Holy Texts

Page 200 - RS - Torah had to be suitable for the generation leaving Egypt.

The Torah still could have presented true facts, even in a simplified form.

Page 207 RS - If the Torah told people the truth about the development of the Universe [that people occupy an infinitesimal portion of the Universe and we only came around about 14 billion years after the Big Bang]  people would have difficulty retaining the concept of the pre-eminence of man. 

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that without providing misleading and false information.

Also per Rambam the world was not created for man - see Proof of God From Fine Tuning.

The development of the Universe is quite suggestive to the insignificance of man.

Page 209 RS - The small times scale of Genesis (6 days) provides the message the universe  was created for man. 

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that without providing misleading and false information.

Also per Rambam the world not created for man, not withstanding the short time scale of Genesis !  Also see Proof of God From Fine Tuning.

Page 209 RS - Why did not G-d create the Universe in 6 actual days ? RS answers because G-d wants to work thru natural processes and this takes billions of years.

Yet if it was all via natural process - then there is no need for an active G-d in the creation. G-d would have only made the natural laws !

RS may respond G-d has to tweak natural laws now and then. That would imply  G-d is not really working thru natural laws. 

Also, an omnipotent G-d could have designed different laws of physics that gave rise to man in 6 actual days.

Page 209 RS - G-d created an immense Universe to humble man.

But what if people never discovered this immensity ? It is certain many people in ancient times would thus not be humbled. 

How did the Torah know people would ever discover the true immensity of the Universe and thus humble man ? I guess the religious would respond an omniscient G-d would know the future. It is very difficult for ‘committed believers’ to remain ‘rational’. Even the ‘rational’ believers will resort to the ‘get out of jail free’ card: G-d is a mystery, works in hidden ways, can do miracles, is omniscient, all powerful, knows the future... making all problems disappear. 

Page 211 RS implies the scientific findings are a revelation to man.

Does RS mean a divine revelation ? Does RS have any evidence for such an audacious claim ? 

Page 225 RS - “Again, one must remember that Genesis is visibly not science at all. It speaks of six days rather than billions of years. There is no pretense of it being a scientific account.”

Today we know Genesis is not accurate science. But when it was authored it may well have been understood as ‘science’ or the history of the Universe. Just because Genesis got the science wrong does not at all imply it was not understood a true history.  

Devout Orthodox Jews can not admit the Torah is false. Anything in the Torah that appears false has to be reinterpreted, rationalized, excused so that they can still claim the Torah is true. This is the non falsifiability game. The Torah is never false. Either we have been misunderstanding the Torah all along or every single academic finding that may contradict the Torah is wrong. 

Page 225 RS - notes the second Genesis creation story sequence contradicts the first creation story and this is evidence Genesis first account is not science.

Actually the most likely reason is the Torah redactors were retaining disparate written and or oral traditions regarding the creation story. Out of respect or perhaps other reasons both stories get recorded. There is ancient  precedent for such a practice. 


{ETA 11/22/2016 Regarding Genesis 1-11 myths: Creation Traditions, Flood, Babel. There are two different compositions. Duplications are not a surprise in light of near east evidence - with native variations of the basic myths of creation, flood,cosmic conflict. It is unsurprising the final edition of the Pentateuch juxtaposes these two accounts since near east scribes often combined 'contradictory' myths and traditions. For example Horus myths from Edfu. See page 339 Ancient Texts For The Study of The Hebrew Bible - Kenton Sparks 2005 }

Page 226 RS - The Torah falsely reports the order of creation putting plants before the sun to teach the power of G-d and to down play sun worship.

Surely a knowledgeable person let alone an omnipotent G-d could accomplish those goals without resorting to falsehoods. Moreover, the goals will fail when ancient people discovered by accident or otherwise that plants need the sun and so the sun most likely came first.  The Torah would be at risk of ridicule by those ancient people. 

Implicit in RS's explanation is that ancient people would know plants need the Sun to grow. I am not sure we can make such an assumption. It is possible the people who were involved with the development of  Genesis One were not aware of the importance of the Sun for plant growth.  In addition, although we know the Sun makes the heavens light, we can not assume this was ancient man's conception. See Genesis and the Big Bang 

Page 243 RS - “The account of creation is a Divine adaptation of the historical occurrences, presented in a form most suited to teaching fundamental theological truths of creation.”

In other words, the Genesis creation story is not true, it is not accurate history.  It is like a parable/allegory/metaphor to teach theology. 

There is no evidence whatsoever that Genesis is divine. Besides, if Genesis  was authored by a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d he could have accomplished those theological goals even while writing true history.

Continued The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part Three

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