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October 17, 2007



Two questions:
1) How did it ever come to be believed as history? Shouldn't people have asked why they'd never heard of it before? Can a large event really come to be fabricated in a people's memory?
2) Why was all of Jewry until 1850--Chazal included--wrong about it? All of Chazal completely wrong about what the Torah meant? Where was their divine ability to interpret the Torah? And what's the point of having every single Jew be wrong about it until the scientists came along?


Please make a clearer differentiation between the questioner, the question, and the answer.

Or even explain where this dialog came from..
I read (almost) every post you write and there is no continuity in this post, it came out of left field.. it looks like an email that was cut & pasted.

Davka either unifying or differentiating via fonts would help a lot, as it is the formatting is very inconsistant.

just so that we can better understand what you've written here.

(like for example where did the principle of accomodation come in, it's written as a heading as if you are quoting part of the original question, but it was unmentioned in the original question, which points to a general lack of the numbering meeting up.)

(are you trying to make some subtle comment on understanding biblical passages that don't clearly end or begin? ;) )


Something to think about: If the Torah had relied on correct modern science which contradicted the ancient scientific consensus, then the ancients would have rejected the Torah as "incorrect".



if you stop to really study it, i'm sure the Torah did disagree with ancient scientific consensus as well.


Sorry, for the problem with the 'Fonts' I still haven't mastered the intricacies of Typepad formatting and don't know how to keep it from changing fonts in the middle.

The question was referred to me as an "expert". I will make that clearer and separate the questions and response.

To "upset": You are correct that Emunah Peshutah is the best way, and I hope that this position was clear in my response. However, the issue of science and religion, was, is, and will be THE issue of emunah facing many people for the foreseeable future and it calls out for a response. This is but an attempt at a response.

As far as what Chazal knew of science, that is a topic that has recently been extensively discussed. All I would say is that, "if the Torah did not reveal it, neither would Chazal" (Shabbos 97a). i agree that this position requires some "dochak's, but I thing that it is the least dochak position avilable, it preserves the literal level so we don't have to reject all the commentaries and completely retain the theological message, and it allows accommodation to scientific reality until something better comes along.

There are people for whom it is better not to raise questions and there are others whose faith cannot be maintained without curiosity and inquiry. Let each man choose his way. You did not expect this material on this blog and are justifiably upset at encountering it. Perhaps, you are very selective about where you go on the Internet precisely to filter it such stuff. I truly regret
dissapointing you. True, this blog is devoted to inspiration and not modern questions but the boundaries of emunah and chakirah are fluid and no person draws them in the same place.


thanks for clarifying what the post was about!

I'm actually preparing a post comparing a little bit of the unknowns of modern science with a teaching of Rebbe Nachman.. (about how sight works)


Avakesh, can the philosophy of science be of any help here?


thanks for this post -- i am one of those people that really, terribly, struggle with what my rabbis tell me about the Mabul -- it happened just the way it is written -- and my own gut feeling that there is something terribly wrong with this understanding of it.

For a long time, even now, it makes me feel so bad, I actually wanted to look into getting "out" of Judaism. Was there some process to remove me from the Jewish people, or was I going to be stuck with the conflicts and lead a very difficult life as a Jew.

What I find most interesting about myself: for many years I was a secular Jew who believed in the almighty - something outside this world -- and that this almighty was in many ways how the Jews formulated him. I even enjoyed Hebrew School as a kid.

It was only once I, as an adult, entered yeshivah to learn more that I became at first "wowed" by the "proofs" etc, and then over time, more and more doubtful about the proofs and what I was being taught was "authentic" Judaism.

It got bad enough that I was truly not sure if there was a G-d -- and I was certain that I was going to be forever bothered by Judaism as my rabbis were (with a straight face) giving over to me.

Kiruv rabbis are in some ways the worst offenders -- there is such a big priority placed on getting young Jews to return to halachah that it is an "anything goes" environment. It is a terrible fall when you start to learn about Judaism without the guidance of your kiruv Rabbi and find yourself feeling honestly deceived.

Please continue to address these issues -- I am certain orthodox Judaism will survive science -- but I think many Jews who are actually interested in learning more Judaism will find themselves wildly doubtful about what they are learning, and will ultimately need to move away from it all in order to maintain some peace in their heart and sanity in their head.

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The Babylonian astronomers were very interested in studying the stars and sky, and most could already predict eclipses and solstices. People thought that everything had some purpose in astronomy. Most of these related to religion and omens. Mesopotamian astronomers worked out a 12 month calendar based on the cycles of the moon. They divided the year into two seasons: summer and winter. The origins of astronomy as well as astrology date from this time.
During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers developed a new approach to astronomy. They began studying philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the early universe and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems.

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