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04:01 PM on 12/26/2010
I love the inclusion of Isaac Akko's calculations for the age of the universe. Goodness, Rabbi, the math isn't worth doing when you consider that for the calculations to make a lick of sense, one has to presuppose that Adam actually existed, which I most certainly do not. Not only that, but where did Akko come up with the 42,000 years as the age of the universe at the time of the supposed Adam's supposed creation?

And do you really think it was science, or some ancient religious text, that was the source of Nachmanides belief that the universe was at one time only the size of a mustard seed? Honestly, Rabbi, don't you think it's anything but an enormous coincidence that what Nachmanides believed so long ago about the size of the universe at its creation is the same as what has taken science hundreds of years to prove?
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05:28 PM on 12/26/2010
I do not disagree with you that much more coincidence than science is at play in the good rabbi's assertions. But as an atheist Jew, I do like the notion that "my religion" might not be quite as dopey or close minded as the other guy's. On the other hand (to coin a Talmudic phrase) there is probably some Christian scholar somewhere who postulated something similar to the mustard seed conjecture. That, in turn, could be used to consider that faith more reality-based than those who believe the Kentucky creation museum actually has Fred Flintstone's car. When your guide is a book that can mean any damn thing your arguments are baseless, no matter how scholarly they may seem.
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Ohalos
Advocate for the Concealed
05:47 PM on 12/26/2010
And what if it can't "mean any damn thing?" There are actually extremely strict rules of exegesis in (classical) Jewish thought.
12:26 AM on 12/27/2010
Then there is the bit about "...faith as small as a mustard seed..." The humble mustard seed gets a pretty good workout in religion.
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Ohalos
Advocate for the Concealed
05:51 PM on 12/26/2010
After enough of these coincidences (there are two mentioned in this post) one needs to start reconsidering his or her assumptions.
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kamachanda
Mr. President, Tear this Wall Street down!
03:55 PM on 12/26/2010
"This lack of knowledge tends to feed the stereotypes that the non-religious world perceives"
Perhaps it is the lack of knowledge on the part of the religious fundamentalist that is feeding and even justifying the stereotypes that the rest of the world perceives.
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GraphicMatt
Some people take the microbio way too seriously.
10:46 AM on 12/27/2010
He was sort of making his point to counter what you just said.....
03:03 PM on 12/26/2010
One can be an Orthodox Jew and an atheist. This is discussed in the new book, "Rational Thinking, Government Policies, Science, and Living".
02:20 PM on 12/26/2010
Regarding the Big Bang: "Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître ( lemaitre.ogg (help·info) July 17, 1894 – June 20, 1966) was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer at the Catholic University of Louvain. He sometimes used the title Abbé or Monseigneur. Lemaître was the first scientist to propose what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, which he called his 'hypothesis of the primeval atom'." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lemaître

Christianity is not an homogenous religion in all matters.
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Dan Jighter
02:28 PM on 12/26/2010
Well, at least the Big Bang is backed up by evidence. I can't say the same for God.

It is ridiculous to infer the merits of Christianity merely from Lemaitre's proposal of the Big Bang. You might as we defend alchemy as valid based on Newton's theories of gravity and mechanics and the fact that Newton also studied alchemy.

Who cares if "Christiani­ty is not an homogenous religion in all matters."?! I still don't believe a word of Christianity.
06:15 PM on 12/26/2010
I disagree, Dan. By no means am I a fundamentalist. I believe in Darwin's evidence of evolution but I take my proof of God's existence by way of analogy - I've never seen a painting that painted itself. I have no bone to pick with atheists and agnostics or any particular religion except fundamentalists. We live in an age of corrosive cynicism. As a feminist, the Bible gives me great trouble - written almost exclusively by men, internal contradictions, a pecking order that is a male supremacist's wet dream.

I don't think that God is some great grandfather in the sky who will grant your every wish. Various rule makers have set down their own takes on what the rules of the road are. But the Second Commandment ("love thy neighbor") is the most telling, most difficult to achieve and it is where progressivism and liberalism have let down the side. That Commandment led to India's independence, civil rights for African-Americans and women. To the extent that any demographic has yet to achieve full-scale first class status hints at areas that progressives and liberals need to pick up the burden that God has left to us to fulfill.

It is our challenge as progressives and liberals to actively engage so as to make life better for the poor, the working poor, anyone under anyone else's boot. The prime directive for me remains "love thy neighbor".

All the best seasonal wishes to you.
03:12 PM on 12/31/2010
That, of course, is your prerogative.
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05:50 PM on 12/26/2010
Very interesting. Thanks C.
02:11 PM on 12/26/2010
Science doesn't say humanity is 15 billion years old. Now we've gone from young earth, young humanity creationism to a creationism that says humanity is TOO old! Haha! Brilliant!
12:56 PM on 12/26/2010
Cosmology is a big topic, so how about cutting it down a bit. Your title includes the word "Creationism". In the Christian world, this word refers to the topic of creation of life in general, and humans in particular. Charles Darwin proposed life on earth is a branching tree of species splitting off from their parent species, including humans who not so long ago in creation time were descended from the same ancestors as chimps and other primates. Darwin didn't know anything about the mechanism of inheritance through DNA, but his works have been demonstrated to be true hundreds of times over. Does your religious view of Creationism accept that Darwin was right? Discussing Creationism without first stating what you believe about the Darwin issue would be a waste of time.
02:15 PM on 12/26/2010
Actually, focusing on Darwin and "Darwinism" plays into the Creationists' favor. In other science, we do still talk about "Newtonian Mechanics," granted, but we don't talk about Schroedingerism or Einsteinism--we talk about the theories. Descent with Modification due to Natural Selection and Genetic Drift...that's the theory. Everything ever written by Darwin could be erased from posterity and we'd still have all the data we need to demonstrate the validity of that theory. The theory does not live or die by his personality.
07:44 PM on 12/26/2010
Darwin said different species share common ancestors. Man and monkey came from the same set of ancestors back in time. If you want to discuss any of these cosmology issues with someone, a good approach is to first find out if they agree with Darwin, disagree with him, or if they don't want to take sides on that question. Then you will know how to continue the discussion with that person.
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rcnc1980
Citizen
12:42 PM on 12/26/2010
I usually tell people with stone cold ideas to read a book. Perhaps I need to change that to read a couple or a few books. While the Rabbi's math (not actually his) might be off; the point he is making is that some in history and some of religious thought do have moments of rational thought and reason. I know, I am surprised too. At least it is clear that some people are open to figuring this out. For those critics out there, look at the narrow view you are committed to, is it a closed circle also. The quote from Keynes says it best. We may find the theory of everything one day, but it will still not be the end all. Absolute is for vodka, rational thought and reason is for science. Happy New Year.
02:17 PM on 12/26/2010
Exactly...one cannot build a bridge or an engine starting from a Theory of Everything...that would be a lot of calculating to do.
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Dan Jighter
02:32 PM on 12/26/2010
Sorry, occasional moments of rational thought and reason do not account for an entire, deeply held belief defended using mere irrational faith or numerous logical fallacies.
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tonygumbrell
retired working stiff
11:53 AM on 12/26/2010
While we are all the beneficiaries of science (and could become the victims of it too), few of us (even among those who think they are pro science and consider themselves scientificly literate) really understand science very well, religions, because they are based on, and accutely oriented to, ordinary human psychology, explain the world in a maner that is simple, poetic, and meshed as it were to the minds of everyday people. Religion is in agreement with the prescientific mind, which is to say, 99.9 % of the human race.
11:57 AM on 12/26/2010
I am with you in tha 0.1% !!!
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Dave F
Former Republican. Liberal = liberty.
11:37 AM on 12/26/2010
Religious texts were never meant to be used as scientific texts. Conversely, scientific texts are not intended for religious teachings. Just as one does not consult a history textbook to solve a math problem, why people try to solve problems using the wrong source is beyond me. Yes, there is overlap in some of these, and in the Big Question of "Where Did We Come From?" I recognize that many people feel very strongly about certain things.

In my own life, I am both Christian and scientifically curious. So theistic evolution fits what I both can see / understand and also believe / have faith in. The author of this piece has arrived at a seemingly similar conclusion, and I applaud him for that. I simply sometimes wonder at those who don't arrive at similar conclusions, given the roles of science and religion.
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Dan Jighter
02:42 PM on 12/26/2010
I wonder, if tomorrow there was a scientific study that clearly established that prayer did work as a means of healing people or that there was clear scientific evidence that God indeed did exist, would you still insist that "scientific texts are not intended for religious teachings"? Or would you quickly quote scientific texts describing these discoveries as justification for your Christianity?

Somehow I suspect that you wouldn't hesitate to use scientific text for religious teachings, provided the science actually supported your religion, which it so happens it currently doesn't. This is a defensive measure - since science does not support your religion, you relegate religion as separate magesteria from science where scientific criticisms of religion can't touch it. This is absurd.

What is beyond me is why you would use religious texts as a source for solving ANY problem. The Bible, for instance, can't be taken 100% literally and thus is largely metaphorical, i.e. the Bible is fiction. The Bible contains numerous contradictions, say in the story of Jesus. How can you take something this unreliable as a source of any sort of knowledge?
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Dave F
Former Republican. Liberal = liberty.
03:11 PM on 12/26/2010
If there was a study establishing prayer healed peole, I WOULD in fact, still insist that scientific texts are not intended for religious teachings. Given that prayer is asking the supernatural to intervene in the natural, I'm not sure how this could ever possibly be explained by science (and that also answers why it would not be possible for science to prove God exists - I believe He is supernatural; science explains the natural, but definition).

Furthermore, science does support my religion, as many archeological finds in Israel/Palestine have confirmed numerous aspects of the Jewish and Christian faiths. Isn't archeology to a science? It's not a defensive measure; it's merely pointing out where science and religion coexist quite well together.

I'm not asking you to use any religious text to solve any problem. But it works for me, so what is is beyond ME is why you so forcefully evangelize for not using them. And those who have read the Bible are aware it is much more than metaphorical. It contains myths (many of which are true; myths aren't all fiction), historical information, genealogical information, information on morality, as well as basic information on survival for humans that lived many thousands of years ago with no access to flushing toilets, soap and cooking thermometers. Good try though.

You believe the Bible is fiction; fine, no problem for me. Why do you try so hard to convince me that it is? Why not let me believe what I want?
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Dave F
Former Republican. Liberal = liberty.
03:13 PM on 12/26/2010
And yes, the Bible does contain contradictions. Ask 4 eyewitnesses to the exact same event and you'll still get 4 different versions today. So what does that prove? That four people seeing the same events all see them differently. This is not a new idea. Heck, SCIENCE has even demonstrated that! So why would it surprise you that the Bible contains contradictions based on different writers' perspectives?
12:17 AM on 12/27/2010
"Conversely­, scientific texts are not intended for religious teachings."

Hmm, the ignostic in me asks what you mean by religious teachings. I'd interpret that as 'moral teachings' or what to do with humane issues (abortion, treatment of animals, how to raise your child, how to handle the elderly, the degree of painful honesty you should take in personal and public and government life).

If those fall into religious teachings, then I'd say you should absolutely use empirical data and substantiated scientific models to determine what you should teach. How old is too old to abort. How much strategy should the fed chair pre-reveal to the public. Should we 'turn the other cheek' to N. Korea? Both Religion and science have opinions on this stuff.

Further, I disagree that Religious texts weren't 'meant' for abc. They were specifically answers to human questions about the world around them. Where did we come from/what happens when we die/why do we suffer. Science answers most of this nicely, though perhaps not adequately for some.
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John Roman
Sitting on a cornflake..
10:46 AM on 12/26/2010
Vedic cosmology is very precise. Their cosmology describes and expanding and contracting universe. The age of this expanding universe is determined and date our present existence at 2 billion years. We have, accordingly, a little more than 2.5 billion to go before it contracts. This has happened 28 times.
There are stunning parallels in the Kabalistic and Vedic vision; together they comprise the oldest of mans intelligent discoveries into the nature of man and the universe. They do not refute science, they embrace it.
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UnderTheHedgeWeGo
Show me some evidence.
11:05 AM on 12/26/2010
Except that the descriptions do not conform to the scientific evidence.
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JShankel
I want my country forward
03:00 AM on 12/26/2010
On the topic of the fundamental conflict between science and religion, consider the case of Galileo.

Many think that Galileo was imprisoned for saying the earth goes around the sun.  This is not precisely correct.  What he was imprisoned for was saying that the earth REALLY goes around the sun.

The church was aware of heliocentrism, even endorsed its usage because, funny thing, sailors and merchants who kept trying to use those Aristotelian epicycles kept, you know, dying at sea.

So the church made a deal with astronomers: it was okay to use heliocentrism as a simplifying model, but no one was allowed to say that the earth ACTUALLY orbited the sun.  It was only permissible to say that God arranged the incredibly complex system of orbits and counter orbits of the geocentric solar system to make it LOOK LIKE the sun was at the center and everything just moved in a perfectly ordinary circle around it.

That is the essence of the argument from authority.  It is essential to any dogmatic religious system and it is utterly incompatible with the scientific method even if it comes up with the right answers from  time to time.
10:47 PM on 12/25/2010
Nice try fantasy-lover.
11:44 AM on 12/26/2010
Yeah, I was in jail then and all anybody cared about was the rat population.
08:47 PM on 12/25/2010
Rabbi, it just doesn't work. The age of the universe and the age of the earth are two different things.

15 billion years versus 4-5 billion years.

There is a reason why they call it faith. Don't try to justify it by reason. It's like dividing by 0.
10:29 PM on 12/25/2010
time is a relative concept of man
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bbriani3842
400+ yrs of science & STILL no evidence for a god
10:53 AM on 12/26/2010
Wrong. . .time has been syncronized with nature.

Cesium resonance is defined by international agreement as 9,192,631,770 Hz so that when divided by this number the output is exactly 1 Hz, or 1 cycle per second.
The long-term accuracy achievable by modern cesium atomic clocks (the most common type) is better than one second per one million years.

From http://science.howstuffworks.com/atomic-clock5.htm
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JShankel
I want my country forward
02:52 AM on 12/26/2010
Ah, but you forget that for ten billion years, God was messing around in "divine time."  Regular old normal time started about 10,000 years ago.  Just having the darndest time finding that in the geological record, that "divine time/normal time transition."
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Dave F
Former Republican. Liberal = liberty.
11:41 AM on 12/26/2010
If you were to take a spaceship that could travel at nearly the speed of light and travel to our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, it would take you 4.3 years on Earth, and 8.6 years to make a round trip. But your body would only age about 15 minutes each way.

Time is relative, and what "God" sees as time (you on the spaceship) doesn't necessarily translate exactly to time on Earth (what humans on Earth experienced while you were traveling). Hence the author's excellent concluding thoughts.
06:49 PM on 12/25/2010
its all amusing not unlike Nostrodamus....however the 1,000 years in his eyes comes from Methusala...as a Metaphor for his life of 1000 years...

The entire Univers is thought to be 13.75 Billion Years old...and the earth is around 4.5 Billion...

Kinda screws up the debate...but its amusing just the same..
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NoMercy
Member Since October 2005
06:15 PM on 12/25/2010
"In his work "the Trove of Life," he explains that the Earth was actually 42,000 years old when Adam was created and that these years are "divine" years and should not be thought of as 365 regular days. Rather, a divine year is 1,000 times longer or 365,250 years. He based this on a verse in Psalm 90 that says "1,000 years in your eyes is like a day gone by." Do the math. According to Rabbi Isaac, the universe is 42,000 x 365,250, or 15,340,500,000 years old. This figure is squarely within the ballpark of where modern cosmology places the age of the universe."

But you're conflating "Earth" with "Universe", which actually IS ancient, and erroneous, cosmology.
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Cory111
Life is truly good...
06:35 PM on 12/25/2010
" "1,000 years in your eyes is like a day gone by."
That sounds about right with my ex-wife... (I'm joking ladies, joking."
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NoMercy
Member Since October 2005
06:50 PM on 12/25/2010
Mine was amicable. Or, at least, it wasn't done in anger.
11:48 AM on 12/26/2010
funny mofo man F & F . U2 is the greatest r & r band history of recorded sound.
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Cinnamonape
03:05 PM on 12/26/2010
So when did the Divine years shift over to "normal years"? When the earth was created to rotate around the sun? When man began to comprehend sidereal cycles?

Was the Day of rest - one day, or 1000 years? And where did Nachainides get the 42,000 years that preceded Adam? Those were also supposedly "days" - and even if divine days that are 1000 times longer than a "normal day" one would only obtain about 3 human years for each "Creation Week Day". It seems that the "as a thousand days" rule was used twice...to derive the 42,000 years and once again to extrapolate the age of the Universe.

Dear Rabbi needs to discuss the logic of Nachmanides. What was his Qabalistic mumbo-gumbo used to derive these numbers...and is he actually suggesting that this should be the basis for deriving knowledge in Science? And why Maimonides and all other ancient Jewish scholars disagreed with him? But with enough sectarian prophets giving their guesses one might eventually hit one that is in a general ballpark...or some modern "interpreter" of that might interpret the claims as being close, through some manipulation of their own.