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What is the Jewish view on science?

by Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro

  

Library » Philosophy » Torah vs. Science | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Judaism holds science in high esteem.

G-d created a world, and He created humans with the potential to explore it. And today’s science and scientists are maximizing that potential to explore the world in unprecedented ways.

Today’s science has tremendously enhanced the quality of life, as well as the quality of Jewish life.1

There is no question that science currently knows more than we ever knew. There is equally no question science will know even more in twenty years from now. This, in effect, means that much of what science thinks it knows, it really doesn’t know. And Judaism knows that about science too.

So as much as Judaism holds science in high esteem, it also approaches it with a sense of caution.

This doesn’t mean Judaism is dismissive of science. To the contrary, Judaism takes science literally. And since science defines itself as the most probable hypothesis, (which can remain for one hundred years, or be disproved tomorrow), Judaism adheres to that.

Whereas many people get swept away with science as if it were some sort of dogma, blindly believing that its every word and finding is an absolute fact, Judaism remembers that much (if not most) of science is merely theories.

Very intelligent, analytical, and result-producing theories; but theories nonetheless. 

Put in the words of the American Heritage Dictionary: "Science: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena."2

Judaism respects science for what it is: knowledge resulting from timely human achievements. And objective scientists respect Judaism for what it is: knowledge resulting from an eternal Divine mandate.

It is our Divine mandate to utilize our scientific achievements for the purpose of bringing ourselves and this world closer to G-d.

Footnotes

  • 1. Scientific findings and inventions have helped in the understanding of certain Torah topics, improved the ability to perform Mitzvot, and advanced the knowledge of and appreciation for G-d. For this very reason, (and perhaps for this reason only) numerous Jewish scholars throughout the ages studied and excelled in the sciences.
  • 2. Emphasis added by editor

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