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Thought for the Day: Using Science in Support of Avodas HaShem

I have talked and written a lot about bad science.  I want to be absolutely clear that I have nothing at all against science as a method of investigation.  I don't even have a problem with people who use scientific data and models to support their own agenda.  The entire Sha'ar B'china of Chovos HaL'vavos is precisely that; using a critical scientific investigation of the world around us to become more aware and more inspired by the wisdom of the Creator.

For example, consider the circulatory system of the developing embryo.  In a baby living out here in the world, blood flows from the body to the right upper chamber of the heart, from right upper chamber to right lower chamber, from right lower chamber to lungs, from lungs to left upper chamber of heart, from left upper chamber to left lower chamber, from left lower chamber to the body; round and round she goes.  This is, of course, the circulation that will continue throughout the person's life from new born infant to goseis; cradle to grave, as it were.

In an embryo, however, things are different; very, very different.  First of all, while the heart begins functioning at approximately four weeks into gestation, the lungs are not ready till near term.  Secondly, nutrients and oxygen come from the placenta, which is outside the embryo's body.  The heart cannot pump blood into the not yet existent lungs, so there is a hole between the right an left upper chambers to shunt blood straight across.  The blood flow must travel out of the body to the placenta (via the umbilical cord), which means the circulation in the embryo is opposite to the flow it will have in the baby.  How much time does it take to switch from embryonic flow to crying baby?  One breath.  Not billions of years and countless happy accidents.  One breath.

That's inspiring!

What I do have a problem with -- a big problem that may sometimes sound like a chip on my shoulder kind of problem -- is people who misappropriate scientific data and models to support their own hidden agenda.

The reason I get on my high horse about this issue is that my grandfather (my mother's father), may he rest in peace, taught me a deep respect (verging on reverence) for intellectual honesty in general, and the scientific process in particular.  My grandfather was not religious, but was completely open minded to any true evidence.  He told me once that he was not an atheist, because atheists believe that G-d does not exist; since it is impossible to prove the non-existence of G-d, he rejected their dogma as illogical.  Moreover, he told me, he couldn't even call himself agnostic; agnostics don't know if G-d exists, but further claim that that the can't know.  He didn't know if he could know or not, so he again rejected their dogma as illogical.

I took that lesson to heart and spent years looking for the proof or disproof of the existence of G-d.  Had my grandfather had access to the same data that I have, I believe he would have reached the same conclusion.


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