How to be Jewish, Scientific, and Proud – Part 3

As we have seen in the previous blogs there is a serious amount of confusion concerning the actual facts of the issues that are under discussion and how we are supposed to address them. Indeed, what is, and what is not the actual data that confronts us in all of the issues is NOT the issue.  THE REAL ISSUE is the interpretation that I make based on the data. There is no actual observational data that points conclusively towards the “scientific” conclusions that are presented as being totally substantiated and truthful. The question, as always, is which of the interpretations makes more sense.

The same holds true of any discipline that is not observing the events but rather is trying to unravel them after the fact. As is true of the parable, so too is the reality. The more distant and complex the event, the more difficult and complex the attempt at unraveling the reality. That’s all it boils down to. So, the question that we have to ask is which of the interpretations makes more sense? Which has more going for it? Think on this very, very deeply. (Also, if you haven’t read the previous blogs – I would suggest doing so).

 

A prime example of when the Torah and science come to a head: the “evolution” of human languages. The following is an excerpt of an article that can be found at the following link. It states as follows:

Most linguistics scholars today agree that many of the world’s modern languages share a common forebear. Indeed, this notion lines up perfectly with the sudden appearance of behaviorally modern humans, as they are referred to by geneticists and archaeologists, some 50,000 years ago. Where experts disagree, however, is how language has developed since then.

This is not really a new perspective of the scientific community. It’s been around for a very long time. The first time that I heard this was when I was a much younger man, learning in a teacher’s certification program that had guidelines from the Ministry of Education here in Israel. The teacher was a very nice, very well-educated person with a kippah on his head. The topics that Dr. X (he had three degrees in linguistics, (does that make him a teacher to the third degree? A third-degree teacher?)) was teaching classes on general linguistics and grammar, known fondly to all Hebrew students as dikduk. “We now know conclusively,” Dr. X said, “based on all sorts of investigative techniques utilized by the university, that there once was a commonly known universal language spoken by all humans”. The room heard this quietly. I had what to say, but I didn’t feel it my place to make an issue of it if the people in the room who were older than me, and more learned, didn’t. After class, I went over to him and asked him the following question. “Dr. X,” I said “you clearly are a well-educated individual and well versed in both modern and Biblical Hebrew. So, I have a question to ask you concerning the “amazing” conclusions that were arrived at concerning the initial universal language.” “Please,” he said, “what is your question?” “Professor,” I said “as a religious man I would have assumed that you would have been highly astounded at the conclusion. After all,” I said, “wasting the universities monies on things that are well known, documented fact, should be scorned at all costs so that the monies could go towards more productive things.” “What are you talking about, young man?” he said to me. “Why, Professor X,” I said, “the Torah says this very thing EXPLICITLY in the book of Genesis, chapter 11 verse 1, where it says, concerning the generations of Noach (Noah) after the flood:

And the nation (that grew from the generations of Noah) were of one lip (safah (שפה) =language, in Hebrew) and were of one inclination (devarim achadim, (דברים אחדים), “of one thing/thinking”).

“Not only that,” I continued saying, “I can even tell you which language it was.” “Really?” he said. “Which one was it?” he asked. “It was Hebrew, of course!” I answered. “And where do you know this from?” he asked. “Our sages, ob”m, tell us this explicitly,” I said. “It’s in the Midrash Rabbah on that verse that says “שפה אחת, לשון הקודש” which means that when the Torah says they were “of one language” it refers to the Holy Tongue”. “Not only that,” I continued “the entire story of how humanity came to speak other languages is right there! In the same chapter!” (A really cheap copy of Genesis can probably be purchased for about 10 bucks too! Much cheaper than any university study…)

As a proof to this, it should be noted that there are vestiges of the Hebrew language that can be found in practically all languages. I have experienced this in English many times and have been told this by friends who speak other languages too. For example, the word “wine” in English takes its basic pronunciation from the Hebrew word ya’yin (יין). Or the word “fruit”, which comes from the French, who pronounce it frui or fruee which is phonetically like the Hebrew word peri or fri, spelled פרי. For an interesting article on the topic look here also here (which I found now while searching for “English words with Hebrew root” and says much of what I said here as well).

But this is not the real crux of the issue.

Everything that I have said on this blog and in the previous two is “pooh-poohed” by the university establishment. Why? Because it doesn’t follow the scientific god… I mean “dogma”[1] based on the “scientific method”. I have already explained how this method, concerning the creation sciences, is ineffective and unproductive in blog 1 on this topic. But I don’t have a Ph.D., so I guess I can’t be right? Or is it BECAUSE I don’t have one that I can speak my mind?

Let’s talk about this issue for a while.

When it comes to the teachings and the goings-on in universities, and peer-reviewed publications today it is assumed that they are offering an unbiased, objective, “scientific” opinion on the topic. Whatever the topic may be. The question is: is that true? Are universities hot-beds of free-thinking, unbiased individuals, or is there a reason to hold suspect the conclusions at which they arrive? Let’s consider this for a moment.

 

  1. Make-up the game and make-up its rules, and you will always win!

In the first blog of this series I already spoke about the fact that the data will always be looked at with a priori thinking. It doesn’t matter which “team” you play for. “Yes” to G-d or “No” to G-d, either way, is a priori. If you REALLY want to be “objective” you have to ask yourself only “which explanation makes more sense in the interpretation of the observable data?”

I also discussed the absurdity of the “I can’t see G-d” claim and its selective usage in the sciences. All of this back in blog 1. Look here for more info. Or read my book for the entire argument.

However, to say that the only proper way of approaching the data is by using the scientific method, despite the fact that none of the interpretations of the data have any observable, measurable, repeatable (henceforth “OM”R”) phenomena to back them up (again, look in blogs 1 and 2), is to say the following. “Let’s play a game! In this game, there is a ‘winner’ and there is a ‘loser’. Here are the rules …” and you then proceed to define the terms of the “game” in the following manner. “There are only two rules. Rule number 1 – I am always the winner. If you think that this is not the case, then rule number two applies. Rule number 2: Rule number 1 is always correct!” How many times do you think that the person who made up the game and its rules will lose? (No answer necessary…)

This is one of the problems of applying the scientific method to the creation sciences. Since the basic rules of the “game” are #1 a “falsifiable hypothesis/theory” and #2 it must be testable, (the same as saying that the hypothesis should allow for making assumptions that are testable), then guess what? You’ve already won the game before you have even begun!

Since “G-d” is neither falsifiable or testable then you have already precluded Him from the study! Is there no wonder why most people who have been indoctrinated by these “rules” all come to similar conclusions? Of course, there isn’t! Of course, there is a very clear theological reason behind this, why G-d isn’t falsifiable or testable. (For more on this read my blogs on the meaning of life 1, 2, 3, and 4)

 

  1. Do I tote the line… or pay the price?

When it comes to the topic a really serious question is – how can you possibly assume that on certain issues the “learned opinions” are unbiased? Consider the following. If you have just spent many, many years of your life in first getting your Bachelors degree, added several more for your Masters and your Masters dissertation, and finally added the piece de resistance by adding even more years in gaining your Doctorate then, if your doctorate is not in the sciences, and in many cases even if it is, in all likelihood there is only one place that you plan on using it: in a university. Then guess what? You’ve got what to lose if you don’t tout the line!

This is kind of the same logic that goes into questioning whether or not the drug trials provided by the drug industry, or the studies in the benefits of cow’s milk in humans that are funded by the milk industry, are trustworthy.

The Torah (Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:19) tells us in no uncertain terms the following concerning judges:

…And do not take shochad (a bribe), for a shochad shall blind the eyes of the intelligent and will falsify the words of the righteous.

Our sages, ob”m, tell us in Tractate Ketubot that this is true even if the bribe that is accepted is accepted with the stipulation “find the truth”.

In halacha (the Torah’s law in application) a witness who has what to lose concerning a thing is not a “kosher” witness. He is called a nogeyah b’davar, which means we assume he is affected by self-interest. Why would this not be the case concerning any and every discipline that is affected by the theory of evolution and all of it’s “there is no G-d” ilk?

But not only IS THERE a price, there are many who have paid it (I put in the link for educational purposes only. It’s not an endorsement), knowingly and unknowingly. I am not going to say that this isn’t an issue that goes in both directions. There have been religious and secular universities that have done the same thing. However, there is a rather large basic distinction between the two places. If you are a religious institution teaching the sciences then it is more understandable that you would want a religious interpretation given to the information or, at the very least, no mention of the secular view (which doesn’t add or subtract from the science of the phenomena that actually IS OM”R). After all, they are espousing that in not teaching the secular view they are avoiding giving you a “go to hell, free” card.

However, if you are a university that promotes “free speech” and “free thinking” and YOU don’t teach the religious view, only the secular one, then you are kind of … what’s the word? Hypocritical? If you don’t teach it because it isn’t “scientific” or “falsifiable”, then just call it like it is! It’s not your religion! (See point 1 here for clarification) Ok! Now I understand you more!

 

  1. Just how “peer-reviewed” is it?

Peer-reviewed articles are a great thing. Let’s start with that. When we are dealing with the sciences of OM”R phenomena, which anyone can actually test and either find true or false – nothing better! But, as I have already shown in blog 1, and a little more in blog 2 on the topic, this is NOT TRUE concerning the creation sciences. However, its truth concerning OM”R phenomena is the basis upon which it is assumed to be true for creation sciences as well. Which, of course, brings us back to the dictum of our sages, ob”m, that “a lie without any truth will not stand”.

Having said that, there are a few points that need to be made about peer-reviewed articles on creation sciences:

  • How good are the peers at reviewing? Our sage, ob”m, tell us that “a man cannot see his own blemishes” (אין אדם רואה נגעי עצמו) in this regard peer-review seems like a good thing. But it doesn’t mean that anyone that ISN’T YOU actually can see them either. One of the problems with the texts of the scientific articles is that they bore you to tears even if you do understand them. I find that most people just skim them and move on. More on this in a moment in point 4.
  • However, there is another statement of our sages “a man cannot free himself from prison” (אין אדם מתיר עצמו מבית האסורים) which is true not only of himself but of others as well. This is even truer if we would consider that there are two types of people in prison: those who were “thrown in” and those that were “born” there. A person who was thrown in has what to compare to, he knows there is a whole other world “outside”. For a person who was “born there”, however, his whole world is in the prison! The reason for this is that a person has been indoctrinated from a very early age he may not be able to recognize that he is in a prison, called “his very own mind”!
  • One could counter that the same holds true of a person born into a religious family. He also cannot see outside of his own “world”, as he was born to it. While this is true of much of the world – it is not true of the Torah. Even though there is a commandment תמים תהיה עם ה’ א-לקיך, (Be wholehearted with HaShem, your G-d) this does NOT mean “be naive”. The Torah itself says to check out the basic fundaments of Emmuna (read Core Emmuna 1 and, with HaShem’s help, in the near future Core Emmuna 2) and many of our holy Rishonim, (Sages from the middle-ages period), the Rambam, Ramban, and many of the Rishonim of Sephardic origin and the Geonim say this includes the sciences as well. Even the Rabbi’s of Ashkenazic origin who said to avoid them did so because of the fear of being led astray by charlatans and liars (which happened then and still continues to happen until this day). During the Pesach festival, the central theme of the Seder, outside of the Exodus story, is “ask a question”. But we don’t ask questions for the sake of questioning. We ask in order to deepen our depth of understanding about the reality of life, of which the Holy Torah is a very deep, very real part. We ask because we are intrigued. There is nothing in the sciences that contradict the Torah. There may be some things that I don’t understand. There may be things that don’t jive with my world-view. But there is no threat to the Torah’s truth from the data that has been revealed. Just the opposite! In most instances, it is my knowledge of the Torah that deepens my understanding of the data and the picture that emerges from it!
  • Is the experiment eminently “reviewable”? In many instances, the “peers” who review the information have neither the time, the equipment, the funding, or the desire to actually do anything more than read the article. If that is true then the dictum written by the Rambam in his famous letter (either iggeret hashemad or iggeret Teyman, I forget which) that “it is man’s nature to believe anything that is in written form” holds true. “If he can print it – it must be right” is what most people will think for a very long time. Who knows when, or even if, it will actually be reviewed?
  • The truth is that “print or perish” is a truism. There is a significant amount of pressure to publish in order to substantiate the need for the continued existence of your division/faculty/department – you name it!

 

  1. “I’m trustworthy! Why? Because I just told you!”

Lastly is the issue of “I’m a doctor, so trust me”. While this is true in any endeavor, all human interaction requires that there should be trust between those who are interacting, this is as true in the sciences as it is in the business world, it should not be true when it comes to the creation sciences for all of the above reasons and those of the previous two blogs.

In the realm of creation sciences, it is substantiated guesswork. A guess, even if it is educated, is still only that – a guess!

In addition, if you learn to read the articles, blogs, papers, books, and whatnot critically you will always note the following: in REALLY BIG PRINT is the title of the article which makes a very clear, very one-sided, conclusive statement. It also always contains amazing artwork and graphics. Afterward, within the body of the article, that’s when the doubts all come out.

The reason for this? Because it is the nature of man to remember the sensational (i.e. the headline and graphics), not the words. But invariably in the article itself, the entire statement is almost always marginalized. “It’s not really all that clear, but…” “according to one formulation of the formula/theory/equation, this could be the result”.

Keep your eyes AND YOUR “EARS” OPEN when reading any sensationalism.

 

Having said all of the above, it should become clear that there is a reason to suspect the “scientific” interpretation of data. This does not mean that the religious interpretation is not also, similarly, suspect. But it also doesn’t take into account the entire program of Jewish religious education, which, as we mentioned previously, promotes questioning, promotes analytical thinking, and promotes trying to see things with fresh eyes, untainted by previous interpretations are given in the matter. But only if you can substantiate it! You have to bring solid proof. Anyone that has ever learned the Jewish Talmud can see this. Anyone who has participated in an iyun (deep thought) shiur (lesson) of Gemara can attest that that is the way that we are educated to be. There is a reason why the world says concerning us “Two Jews – three opinions!”

This is what it all boils down to: of the observable data, according to which interpretation does it make the most sense? Hands down, it’s the G-d one.

“Well, Rabbi” someone is surely thinking, “most of the world disagrees with you on this, and THEY SAY that the interpretation of the data is NOT like you!”

To that I only have one thing to say: I’m a son of Abraham the Ivri. This name “ha’Ivri”, meaning “from the other side” was given to Abraham and worn with pride. It signifies the fact that the entire world “stood against” Abraham theologically and ideologically, and yet he didn’t care about that. Life’s not about being in the majority. Life is about following the truth even if it puts you in the minority. Even if the entire “minority” is just you.

Therefore, as the data concerning the creation sciences is never definitive and it is open to interpretation which is in-sync with the classic understanding of the Torah and our sages ob”m, then why should I choose to follow the more popular opinion? What do I gain from it? Especially in light of the fact that the Torah’s explanation allows me more clarity concerning the observable phenomena? Why would I want to choose falsehood over truth? Why would I want to live a real life in a virtual reality lie? I would rather live a real life in the real world with real meaning!

As one of the attributes of HaShem is Emmet, truth, why would I want to be anywhere else?

[1] Are you familiar with the joke that goes “What is a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac? A guy who stays up all night wondering about the existence of DOG”

אמנם זה באנגלית, אבל יתורגם, בע”ה, לעברית בקרוב

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