Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…