Monday, October 30, 2006

Guest post by ed

Note: I think this guest post is pretty silly. Also long. I am running it because Ed asked nicely, and also because I think the bad ideas need to be vanquished. So please, have at it.

Dearest Dovbear,

Pos'chin b'chvod achsanya, even though me and you stand somewhat apart on the Hashkofa scale, I would like to express my gratitude to you for being a patient, gracious, and accommodating host.

Formalities aside, I'll get right to the point. Dovbear expressed, that heat and pressure of the Mabul would not have affected the dating system that enables scientists to claim that our world is significantly older than 5767 years.

Rashi Breishis 6:14 says on the verse "Atzei Gofer" - That is its name. Why from this specie? Because of its name relating to Gufris - sulfur with which it was decreed that they be destroyed by.

We further find this method of punishment by Sodom and Amorah. Rashi 19:24 on the verse "Ad-noy caused to rain upon Sedom and Amorah--- sulfur and fire--- from Ad-noy, from heaven", Rashi quotes Mechilta - "It began as rain and turned into sulfur and fire".

Sulphur and water creates a chemical reaction. "The hydration reaction of sulfuric acid is highly exothermic. If water is added to concentrated sulfuric acid, it can boil and spit dangerously" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfuric_acid ). This fits scientifically very well with the commentaries that say that the water of the Mabul was hot. This also explains "Vayig'biru Hamayim", and the water strengthened.

Further, in wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfuric_acid, it states that "Note that directly dissolving SO3 (a form of sulfur) in water is impractical due to the highly exothermic nature of the reaction. Mists are formed instead of a liquid". This would scientifically correlate to what the Gemara says that the hot steam was what killed the inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel.

Can it be that the sulfuric content of the Mabul was what corrupted the dating system - making the world seem older than it is? It's clearly a powerful chemical, even more so when mixed with water. Hopefully, the scientists that frequent this blog can provide their input.

In regards to DB's question about the dating done on the moon rocks, wikipedia says "Sulfuric acid is produced in the upper atmosphere of Venus by the sun's photochemical action on carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and water vapor". Although wikipedia is discussing Venus, nevertheless, it shows that sulfuric acid exists in space too.

Dovbear asks: "The boat described in the bible isn't big enough to contain "...every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth."

When Dovbear discovered the "Rainbow Ramban", where the Ramban deviates from the literacy of the text to concur with science, DB jumps for joy and shouts "Isn't it grand?" But when the very same Ramban asks DB's question and this time he does not dismiss the literacy of the text, it's all quiet on the western front.

Here is Artscrolls translation of the Ramban 6:19 - "It is well known that there are very many species of animals, and some of them are very large, such as the elephants and re'eimim and other like them. It is also well known that the small crawling creatures that creep on the earth are exceedingly numerous. Likewise, the species of birds in the sky are many..... There are similarly countless species of clean birds. Now, Noach had to bring specimens of all of these so that they could reproduce more of their kind, and when you add up the food that would be eaten by all of these for a full year, this ark could never contain them all - nor even could ten arks like it! HOWEVER, IT WAS A MIRACLE, THAT A SMALL SPACE WAS ABLE TO CONTAIN SUCH A LARGE VOLUME". [Emphasis Ed's]

The Ramban then asks, if it indeed was a miracle, then Noach could have made a much smaller ark? To which he replies, that by making it so big, is what would make the people see it, marvel at it, and tell each other about it, in order that perhaps they would repent. Or, that it was made that big to lessen the magnitude of the miracle, as we find, that man has to do what he can, and the rest he leaves up to god.

The Ramban was obviously faced with Dovbears question, to which his response is, that if God commanded it, then so it was. If it took a miracle to make it happen, then so be it. Surely the Ramban could have entertained the option that it was only a regional flood. The Ibn Ezra 7:23 already mentions such a view (and calls those of that opinion - Cha'siray Daas). Yet, the Ramban held that it would be better to remain with the P'shuto Shel Mikra and assume that there were miracles, then to distort the literal meaning of the Torah.

In regards to how Noach gathered all the animals, says the Ramban 7:9 - The meaning of the words "They (the animals)came to Noach, to the ark" is to inform us that they did not assemble near Noach at all and did not come to him until that very day when the rain began. FOR GOD GAVE THEM THE COMMAND TO ASSEMBLE, AND IT WAS HIS SPIRIT THAT GATHERED THEM TOGETHER NEAR THE ARK IN ONE MOMENT [Again, emphasis Eds]

Remember friends, that these words were written by the very same person who conceded to the scientific explanation of the rainbow.

Another big question which is asked, is where did so much water come from to cover the whole world. In reality, the bigger question is, where did water originate to begin with? Scientists heavily grapple with that question, and the answers aren't clear.

I would like to propose, why Ultra Orthodoxy is opposed to evolution. In this context, "evolution" refers to the generally scientific accepted theory, that the universe, earth, mankind etc all evolved from a single cell over the course of some 14 billion years.

The problem therein, is that if everything in the universe is scientifically explainable, that leaves very little room for God. God is limited to perhaps the creator of the single cell, and perhaps some "guidance".

The basic text in Genesis depicts a very different God. It depicts an almighty superpowerful God, who "said there shall be light", and instantly, "there was light". Even if you take the beginning of Genesis non-literal, and somehow attempt to squeeze evolution into the text, the P'shuto Shel Mikra remains unchanged. Vayomer Elokim Yehi Ohr" and "Vayehi Ohr". God said, and it happened.

Similarly, we find the term "B'yad Chazaka" used when God took us out of Egypt. No one thinks that God has a literal hand. But the Torah attempts to depict to us the concept of an almighty superpowerful deity, in a language understandable to mankind.

This God that is described, is a "there shall be light", and "there was light" God. In the same vein, "there shall be water", and "there was water". Ask any UO Jew - where did water come from? Without batting an eyelash, he'll fire back - whaddaya mean? Of Course! From God!

When one's perception of God is such, then there's no further difficulty in understanding the Mabul. The same God which originated water on this world to begin with, could just as well flood the entire world 15 Amos over the tallest mountaintops. Hashem Nossan, Hashem Lokach. The same God that flooded the world has the means to remove all that excess water. That same God can instantly bring all the animals and birds from the entire world and have them all fit in the ark.

And this I believe, is the intention of the Ramban's words, "FOR GOD GAVE THEM THE COMMAND TO ASSEMBLE, AND IT WAS HIS SPIRIT THAT GATHERED THEM TOGETHER NEAR THE ARK IN ONE MOMENT". [Once again, Ed's shouting not the Ramban.]

The same Ramban, that translated the rainbow pesukim to match the view of science, understood here that the Mabul cannot be reconciled, and it was the Yad Hashem which prevailed.

Belief in evolution makes this viewpoint very difficult to accept. When one is bent on understanding everything in the universe in naturalistic terms, then indeed, the questions are difficult. Naturally, there isn't enough water to flood the world. Naturally, there wasn't enough room in the ark for all the world's animals. To say that God arranged these things via miracle flies in the face of everything evolution purports to accomplish.

I believe the above serves as an example as to why the Ultra Orthodox refuse to accept evolution.

a) It distorts the image of God depicted in the Torah. From an almighty superpowerful one, to a fill-in-the-gap one (if even that much).

b) It creates terrible confusion in understanding the Torah, as evidenced by the multitude of questions asked by the evolution supporters, who would rather attempt to distort the P'shuto Shel Mikra (which implies a worldwide flood, as evidenced by every major Torah scholar up to 150 years ago), than to accept the un-naturalistic premise, that "God says, and so it happens".

The remaining question, is why is there a lack of evidence (or evidence against) of a worldwide flood. In the above UO viewpoint, the question doesn't exist. A god which unnaturally floods the world, which unnaturally in one moment gather 2 pairs of all animals in the world, is a God which constantly acts above and beyond the laws of nature. If such a God chose to hide the evidence (or fabricate contrary evidence) such actions are as irrational as God flooding a world in a non-natural way. Neither conform with the laws of nature. If we accept the latter, then we accept the former. Why? Not because it's OK if God is fooling us. Rather, because if God did so, then it was done with a reasoning which we have not yet merited to comprehend.

Shalom and Kol Tuv.
Ed

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