Yesterday, one of those Internet Skeptics you hear so much about sent in the following query:
IS GOD A LIAR?
Evolution is true. Evolution never ceased. It continues till today. There was no period where certain animals evolved, stopped, and then another set of animals evolved. Man did not evolve after all the other animals stopped evolving. Evolution of many species overlap. None of this matches with Genesis. But even worse is if all this is true, then what is the justification for keeping Shabbat. God makes it quite clear that keeping Shabbat is to remember his 6 distinct days of creation and his cessation of creation on the seventh.
There never was a cessation of "creation." Evolution never ceased. So if one accepts TMS, doesn't this suggest you believe in a lying God?
Dear Skeptical Friend:
After pointing to a little contradiction between what the verse seems to say and what we know to be true, you asked "What is the justification for keeping Shabbat?" Your assumption, I gather, is that all of us keep Shabbos for One Reason and One Reason only, namly the reason given in Commandment Four (Exodus Version).
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Only this assumption is wrong.
Some of us keep Shabbos for the reason given in Commandment Four (Deuteronomy Version).
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Others of us may keep Shabbos for secular reasons, or historical reasons, or family reasons. Others of us may keep it from habit. Others may keep it from fear of parents, spouses or neighbors. Most of us probably keep it from some combination of all of these reasons. But the point is this: The justification for keeping shabbas is, and always was, Personal and Subjective. You haven't made shabbos irrelevant to those of us who grew up with it and recognize its value simply by taking a little chip out of one of the many legs upon which it rests.
Anyway, all the little numbers are not supposed to add up when the subject is something complicated like What People Do and Why They Do It.
Your other mistake is that you are a Biblical literalist. Look how confident you are declaring that Shabbos is dead because your understanding of a verse or two can't be made to shtim with the facts of science! Do you think this is a new problem? Well, it isn't. Jews with famous names and impressive credentials have been interpreting and reinterpreting problematic verses already for thousands of years.
About problems like the one you think you have discovered in Genesis, the Rambam said:
...we shall endeavor to integrate the Torah with rational thought, leading events according to the natural order wherever possible; only with something that is clarified to be a miracle and cannot be otherwise explained at all will we say that it is a miracle.
And about people like you the Zohar said:
...the tales related in the Torah are simply her outer garments, and woe to the man who regards that outer garb as the Torah itself, for such a man will be deprived of portion in the next world.
So, to sum up, I don't feel especially restricted by the plain meaning of a verse. Nor do I think Judaism obligates me to feel especially restricted by the plain meaning of a verse. Like any written text, the Torah has always meant what interpreters said it means. Reinterpreting verses to fit facts has always been a very Jewish thing to do. [Click here for a fun example] I see no reason to start taking the Torah literally now, when we never did before - especially when it presented problems such as the one you think you discovered.
Moreover, many of our laws are based on interpretations. The Sages called it "Midrash Halacha." Our acceptance of the authority of those interpretations is what makes us Rabbinic Jews rather than Karities.
Yours in faith,
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