Askmoses-A Jews Resource
Why aren’t men and women obligated to do the same Mitzvahs?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.


Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Click the button below to either CHAT LIVE with an AskMoses Scholar now - or - leave a message if no Scholar is currently online.

CHAT or LEAVE A MESSAGE

Are science and religion a contradiction?

by Rabbi Dovid Dubov

  

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


PRINT EMAIL COMMENT

[Ed. note: this is not an attempt to convince the skeptic of the validity of religion, or persuade the religious fanatic to accept the value in science. We address those who strongly believe in their faith, and also admire science, yet wonder if this is not some sort of contradiction].

The Short Answer:

Torah and science can never contradict each other, because two truths cannot be contradictory.

The Askmoses Answer:

The Definition of Science and Religion:

Science, broadly defined, means knowledge. Specifically we refer to science as knowledge ascertained by observation and experiment, critically tested, systemized and brought under general principles. Being even more specific one must distinguish between empirical or experimental science dealing with, and confined to describing and classifying, observable phenomena, and speculative science dealing with unknown phenomena, sometimes phenomena that cannot be duplicated in the laboratory.1

Religion means a belief in something. In terms of the Jewish religion this is belief in the Divine nature of the Torah – Torah min Hashamayim; that the Torah received by Moses and given to the Jewish people is Divine in source and is the word of G–d. Being so, Torah is Divine wisdom, and since G–d is true so is his Torah. Torah is often referred to as Torat Emet meaning the True Torah. Torah reveals the truth.

The Zohar predicts that beginning in the Hebrew year 5600, which corresponds to the year 1840 CE, there will be major developments both in the wisdom from above and the wisdom from below.
From these two definitions we see that science and Torah operate within mutually exclusive standards, and each is true in what it does. Science formulates and deals with theories and hypotheses based on observable phenomena. Torah deals with Divine insight and instruction based on eternal truths. These are two different disciplines and “reconciliation” is entirely out of place.

The Science of Yesterday & the Science of Tomorrow:

In the 19th Century it was the prevailing view of scientists and modernists that human reason was infallible in “scientific” deductions and that sciences such as physics, chemistry, mathematics etc., were absolute truth, that is to say, not merely accepted truths but absolute. 

In the face of dogmatic and deterministic views of science prevailing at that time, a whole apologetic literature was created by well-meaning religious advocates and certain rabbis who saw no other way of preserving Torah heritage in their “enlightened” communities except through tenuous and spurious reinterpretations of certain passages in the Torah in order to accommodate them to the prevailing world outlook. No doubt they knew inwardly that they were suggesting interpretations in Torah which were at variance with Torat Emet, but at least they felt they had no alternative.

In the 20th Century, however, and especially in recent decades, science has finally come out of its medieval wrappings and the whole complexion of science has changed. The assumed immutability of the so-called scientific laws and the concept of absolutism in science in general have been abrogated and the contrary view is now held, known as the “Principle of Indeterminism”. Nothing any more is certain in science but only relative or probable, and scientific findings are now presented with considerable reservation and with limited and temporary validity, likely to be replaced at any time by a more advanced theory.

Converging not Diverging:

As time proceeds science will actually discover the divine truths of the Torah, and Torah will be better understood to the mortal mind through the human findings of science. Rather than being seen as diverging, science and religion are converging.

Footnotes

  • 1. The term “scientific speculation” is actually a terminological incongruity since no speculation can be called knowledge in the strict sense of the word. At best, scientific speculation can only describe theories inferred from certain known facts and applied in the realm of the unknown.

ADD A COMMENT

Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Kabbalistic
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
Noah
Tenth generation from Adam. Of all humankind, only he and his family survived the Flood which destroyed all civilization in the year 2106 BCE.
Isaiah
1. One of the greatest prophets, lived in the 7th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Isaiah. The book is filled with prophecies concerning the Messianic redemption.