Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Simple Faith and Intense Investigation

I thought I was downloading a shiur entitled "Dah Mah Shetashiv LeApekoris" (know what to answer an apikorus) by R' Yisroel Belsky, shlita.  As it turned out, though, I was not downloading one shiur... I was downloading a zip file of 48 shiurim!  Taking about striking it rich!  It the first time I have heard shiurim from R' Belsky and I am amazed by the depth of knowledge he has in science.  Although he didn't actually present any equations, it was clear from his concise and penetrating analysis that he knew exactly how the calculations are performed.

Just to give you an example of his approach: R' Belsky needed a new water heater.  The plumber who installed it told him that it heats water so fast that he'll never run out of hot water.  R' Belsky asked him how much water it held, at what rate it heated water, and how much water was used when taking a shower.  The first two were answered by from the documentation, but he didn't know how to answer the third.  So R' Belsky took a gallon jug, put it under a running faucet, and measured the amount of time it took to fill the jug.  He then calculated the amount of hot water the newly installed device could deliver and it came up short.  "My family of five and the nineteen year old bochur who rents the attic apartment will easily be able to run this out of hot water!  How can that brochure say that you'll never run out of hot water?"  The reply: That brochure was not written for people like you.

R' Belsky's point was not to take the word of "experts" for granted.  Push back on them and ask them to justify their conclusions.  When he was 18 he went to a museum of natural history and saw the famous display of "horse evolution" -- six horses (reconstructed from fossils), from size of small dog to modern horse that span 55 million years.  R' Belsky told the curator that he found the display very informative.  The curator asked him what he liked in particular.  R' Belsky replied, "It's a very clear proof of how ridiculous the theory of evolution is."  What?!?  "You see," continued R' Belsky, "There are millions of changes from horse to horse.  If evolution were true, and change happens by small increments, then there would be horses of all sizes from the smallest to the largest.  They don't exist, so evolution is wrong."  But we'll find them... we just haven't yet.  "That argument may have been reasonable a hundred or more years ago, but you've explored all the fossil beds down to rock bottom... they don't exist."

In conclusion: we don't believe the theory of evolution.  Not because it goes against our faith... faith is irrelevant.  It doesn't stand up as a scientific theory.  End of discussion.

Belief in G-d, on the other hand, has to be a matter of faith.  The Kuzari, R' Belsky notes, which is a sefer that seems to be all about intense investigation, says that one can strengthen his faith with investigation, but it can't really give you a reason to believe in the first place.  Intelligent design can help you to see HaShem (so to speak), but only once you already know and believe that He exists.

I have only heard the first four so far...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

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: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…