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Thought for the Day: Every Change in Science Brings It Closer to Torah

I have always had a problem with Pluto.  First of all, he is about the same size as Mickey, doesn't talk, and runs around naked.  That's weird, but I guess I can buy that in his world dogs are normal, but mice and ducks can talk and (therefore?) wear clothes.  (Though the ducks seem to be relying a lot on feather cover; isn't that called fan dancing?)  That's all well and good... until you get to Goofy; who wears more clothes than any of them and talks better than Donald!  So what's with Pluto?

It turns out that science has a problem with Pluto also; it's not a planet any more.  Or maybe it is.  Maybe it's a dwarf planet, or maybe a moon.  I don't know, go ask the Library of Congress.  Nothing about Pluto changed.  All that changed was our definition of the word "planet" and our discovery of more stuff flying around the sun.

That's a very important lesson about all changes in science.  Nothing "under observation" is changed by how we choose to describe it; only our description changes.  That's what science is: our description of what we see.  Obvious, right?  It should be, but it also means that one should never say, "How can I believe the Torah when it contradicts science?"  That like being in kindergarten and crying to the teacher, "Bobby says I look like a zombie!  Waaahhh!"  The teacher/parent will predictably respond, "What do you care what Bobby says?  You know it's not true."  Science has a worse track record than Bobby, actually.  But that's ok, because the job of science is to keep observing reality and continually up the model we have.  Since we have less than complete data, we have less than perfect models.

What prompted this tirade was two new scientific discoveries that help to once again bring science more in line with reality; which is to say, our Torah.  First, a new human body part was discovered!  It's only 15 microns thick, but parts is parts.  Now you can stop trying to understand how the 248 eivarim (limbs/organs) map to the known body parts.  They don't.  Or maybe now they do.  Of course there is also the problem that maybe what we call an eiver is not what they call an organ.

The other discovery is more ethereal.  There is this old problem of how does free will go together with HaShem's prescience.  The Rambam gives some hints, but says the explanation is deep and complex.  A recent experiment involving quantum entanglement (isn't that a great term?  right up there with "space-time continuum") demonstrates a system that evolves and changes when viewed from the inside, but is static when viewed from outside.  Isn't that cool?  Now, you'll need a few years of graduate physics to understand the details, but isn't that what the Rambam said?

Science has made great strides in the last 100 years.  It's never going to be Truth, but it's a fun diversion.

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