Monday, July 20, 2009

EZ Reads 7/20/09: Science vs. Torah

  • R' Aviner on dinosaurs, the age of the world, etc. etc. Very interesting. Excerpt:
    The Torah does not mention dinosaurs. This question is interesting from a scientific perspective but not a Torah perspective. In the book "Netivot Olam" (Netiv Ha-Toraah, netiv 14), the Maharal says that the purpose of science is to describe reality, while the Torah describes what reality should be, i.e. what is good and what is bad. What exists is interesting, but it is not Torah, which discusses halachic questions.

    When people ask how old is the world, if we came from apes, what happened in the distance past, I generally answer: I don't know. I wasn't born and I didn't see. But in the case of dinosaurs, I saw the skeleton of the largest dinosaur in Europe – 20 meters, so you can't tell me stories.

    [...] Nonetheless, there is no difference whether there were dinosaurs or not. Maran Ha-Rav Kook said that our subject is not if man came from an animal, our subject is how not to be an animal. The Torah’s purpose is to teach us how to have a gentle soul, and to be a holy and righteous person.
  • An interesting guest post at BeyondBT: Lakewood vs. Lakewood. Using minor league baseball (!) as a guide, it makes an interesting argument for us all.
  • R' Fink blasts Gizmodo for their anti-religious headline (since changed) - “Orthodox Couple Imprisoned By Superstitious Blame Motion Sensing Light Instead”.
  • This is nice: Modesty codes adopted by members of a Charedi minister's staff out of sensitivity - not requirement. It speaks well of them and perhaps of him in not asking or ordering such actions.
  • A really interesting piece by Orthonomics on the Jewish community in general. Excerpt:
    Years ago, I think I viewed Orthodox Jews from left to right as part of a continuum, the speed of media and the images make it rather clear that much of the affinity is perceived. It might be a terrible thing to state during the three weeks, but I don't feel as there is much in common between my community, or most other American Orthodox communities for that matter, and the Mea Shearim community.

    But, saying that wouldn't be fair either. It is clear when you read comments on any VIN article (or YWN article, although that "new source" basically steers clear of most articles that put the Yeshivish/Chassidish community in a bad light) that the concept of dan l'chaf zechut, an important concept indeed, can be used to excuse nearly any behavior. And, not just excuse it, but even glorify it. Sometimes I think to myself, do you have to be accused of abuse to be labeled a selfless tzadekes or be accused of money laundering or fraud to be labeled a true tzadik, someone with a great helech in olam haba? And lest you think that it is only VIN or YWN commentators that can twist themselves into a pretzel, have a bochur over and you might be surprised just how a neighborhood boy can take a behavior that a simpleton like me views as unquestionable wrong and it becomes not only permissible, but even a kiddush Hashem.
More on that later.

1 comment:

  1. The Torah does not mention dinosaurs. This question is interesting from a scientific perspective but not a Torah perspective.

    Call me cynical, but I'd bet that he would find it "interesting" from a Torah perspective if scientists discovered hares or hyraxes that chewed their cud.

    Is there some sort of technique for determining which parts of the Torah are intended as describing reality and which are not? Because I'd also bet that he thinks the passages describing the Exodus and the Flood are at least based in reality.