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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...


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