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Unread 07-12-2009, 06:24 PM   #1
mvakeshet
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Torah and Science

Does anyone know or have an opinion about how "kosher" or "okay" Dr. Gerald Schroeder's books are considered to be? I'm not looking for proofs or explanations, I simply enjoy the stimulation this type of reading provides. I've read The Hidden Face of G-d and was highly impressed. Does anyone know anything about the other ones (G-d According to G-d, The Science of G-d, Genesis and the Big Bang)?
As an aside, but also of interest, does anyone have recommendations for hashkofically correct, professionally researched and written books on Torah and Science, or science in general (other than Mind Over Matter-I've devoured that one several times already)?
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Unread 07-12-2009, 06:56 PM   #2
Torah613
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I have heard different reactions to his book, some praising it, some saying that either the science or the Torah (or both) are incorrect. I myself have no opinion, as I have never read his books. I am sure Google can help.
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Unread 07-12-2009, 09:59 PM   #3
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I read it. Parts of it are hokey. Parts of it are (IMHO) inappropriate. The problem with any book that tries to reconcile Torah with Science (a stupid goal, if you ask me) is that Science progresses, and your "proofs" look really stupid when scientists come out with the New New Thing.

So this book tries to normalize Torah with some modern and some outdated scientific modes of thought. If you are having sfekos in Emunah, and just want to be reassured, read the parts about the big bang, and skip the parts about evolution, and you'll be fine. If you're looking for something insightful or intellectual, just learn Chassidus (or watch Captain Planet reruns on Youtube) rather than read this book.
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Unread 07-12-2009, 10:19 PM   #4
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I thought I made it clear I was not having any "doubts". Just looking for a stimulating read.

Your suggestion to learn chassidus for stimulation or insight makes me feel a little uneasy. I never felt it right to study something of such holiness (not the right word, but can't think of anything better right now) simply for my own pleasure -intellectual or other.

Correct me if I'm wrong.
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Unread 07-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #5
noahidelaws
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The best book would be Mind Over Matter, by Reb Arnie Gotfryd.
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Unread 07-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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Schroeder's books are generally accepted as kosher as far as I know. He is often asked to speak at organizations such as Aish HaTorah and Ohr Sameach and is a credentialed scientist.

Two problems with the book are (a) his Torah views, while supported by credible sources, are not always in line with the Rebbe's views; and (b) the science is a bit watered down, so those who know a bit about astrophysics and the like tend to complain that he oversimplifies things.

[***]

Last edited by Smirnoff; 07-12-2009 at 10:47 PM. Reason: Rude/Inappropriate Comment
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Unread 07-12-2009, 10:28 PM   #7
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There is also a book I have somewhere of collected essays called "Challenge." Has a lot of Torah/science discussions dealing with the physics issues and also things like medical ethics (e.g. when is the "end of life"). I believe it was run by the Association for Orthodox Jewish Scientists or something similar sounding.
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Unread 07-12-2009, 11:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mvakeshet View Post
I thought I made it clear I was not having any "doubts". Just looking for a stimulating read.

Your suggestion to learn chassidus for stimulation or insight makes me feel a little uneasy. I never felt it right to study something of such holiness (not the right word, but can't think of anything better right now) simply for my own pleasure -intellectual or other.

Correct me if I'm wrong.
You're wrong. There, I just corrected you.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 05:30 AM   #9
existwhere?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mvakeshet View Post
I thought I made it clear I was not having any "doubts". Just looking for a stimulating read.

Your suggestion to learn chassidus for stimulation or insight makes me feel a little uneasy. I never felt it right to study something of such holiness (not the right word, but can't think of anything better right now) simply for my own pleasure -intellectual or other.

Correct me if I'm wrong.
You're definitely allowed to. "If a person learns not for the sake of Heaven, it will bring him to learn for the sake of Heaven." So it's always better to learn.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 08:25 AM   #10
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I would prefer to have the "aveira" of learning chassidus for stimulation purposes than reading these books
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Unread 07-13-2009, 01:16 PM   #11
mvakeshet
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Originally Posted by Meshulam View Post
I read it. Parts of it are hokey. Parts of it are (IMHO) inappropriate. The problem with any book that tries to reconcile Torah with Science (a stupid goal, if you ask me) is that Science progresses, and your "proofs" look really stupid when scientists come out with the New New Thing.
Why a stupid goal?

The goal of G-d fearing scientists who publish such material is to prove that science is actually coming closer to an objective truth about the nature of the universe as believing Jews have known it to be all along, rather than just groping in the dark for some self-serving truths like they used to, and sometimes by chance hitting upon a real truth.

If you think this is superfluous to those who already believe and don't need proofs ("why do we need to prove the Torah?...), isn't this an example of "yisron haor min hachoshech" when physical creation openly declares its G-dly nature? And isn't it also an indication of "umalah ha'aretz deah es Hashem" -the world/creation is full of knowledge of Hashem-points directly to knowledge of Hashem?

I was actually under the impression that this is also the opinion of Chabad thought on the matter.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 01:26 PM   #12
mvakeshet
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You're definitely allowed to. "If a person learns not for the sake of Heaven, it will bring him to learn for the sake of Heaven." So it's always better to learn.
Only if one is learning with the desire that it become for the sake of heaven. I don't know how much learning chassidus for stimulation of insight can count for that...

Actually, I always wonder about that. I once read a quote either from a Chabad Rebbe or from the Besh''t that nigleh can be learned with ulterior motives but nistar cannot.
I understand that its easy to learn nigleh for less-than-completely-altruistic motives (stimulation, one-upmanship), but why not the same for nistar. It's so easy to do it for "inspiration", "insight", "depth", "dveykus".

In a way, I think its easier to delude yourself that your doing l'shem shomayim when your learning chassidus.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 01:35 PM   #13
Torah613
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I would like a clear source that learning shelo lishmo does not apply to nistar/chassidus etc. Unless it meant that is is more difficult to be shelo lishmo because of the nature of the subject - I can hear the point somewhat, but I would like a source.

Also, learning shelo lishmo is permitted even if there is no "desire that it become for the sake of Heaven". I would think it obvious.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 03:35 PM   #14
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I would like a clear source that learning shelo lishmo does not apply to nistar/chassidus etc. Unless it meant that is is more difficult to be shelo lishmo because of the nature of the subject - I can hear the point somewhat, but I would like a source.

Also, learning shelo lishmo is permitted even if there is no "desire that it become for the sake of Heaven". I would think it obvious.
I can't find the source. I guess this part of the conversation's over, unless someone who knows what I'm talking about happens upon this.

As for the "obvious" comment, I don't know. It wasn't obvious to me at all...
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Unread 07-13-2009, 03:37 PM   #15
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You're wrong. There, I just corrected you.
Telling me I'm wrong is in no way a correction... you have to right the wrong! I'm listening...
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Unread 07-13-2009, 06:50 PM   #16
Meshulam
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It certainly is no aveira to learn Chassidus with less than pure intentions (as Torah613 has told you). It is a much better use of your time than learning about the alleged intersection of Torah and Science.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 06:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshulam View Post
I read it. Parts of it are hokey. Parts of it are (IMHO) inappropriate. The problem with any book that tries to reconcile Torah with Science (a stupid goal, if you ask me) is that Science progresses, and your "proofs" look really stupid when scientists come out with the New New Thing.
Why a stupid goal?

The goal of G-d fearing scientists who publish such material is to prove that science is actually coming closer to an objective truth about the nature of the universe as believing Jews have known it to be all along, rather than just groping in the dark for some self-serving truths like they used to, and sometimes by chance hitting upon a real truth.

If you think this is superfluous to those who already believe and don't need proofs ("why do we need to prove the Torah?...), isn't this an example of "yisron haor min hachoshech" when physical creation openly declares its G-dly nature? And isn't it also an indication of "umalah ha'aretz deah es Hashem" -the world/creation is full of knowledge of Hashem-points directly to knowledge of Hashem?

I was actually under the impression that this is also the opinion of Chabad thought on the matter.
And what is the source that there is any value in seeking out examples of where non-Jewish (and usually anti-Torah) sources agree with Torah? If the Big Bang reeks of Intelligent Design, why does that mean that there is automatically value in my learning about it?

The Rebbe's position on these subjects is clear: Evolution is 100% false. The the first six days were 24 of our hours long, etc. Now if aren't interested in an accurate and complete understanding of science, and are similarly uninterested in an accurate portrayal of Torah, there are plenty of similarities between Torah and Science. But at the end of the day, the reason that we believe in Breishis the way the Torah describes it is because the Torah thusly describes it. The fact that some modern scientists do not think that it totally is contradicted by "empirical data" is not going to make me a better Jew, or more of a Maamin.

What did you believe was Chabad's position on this? And on what basis do you believe that?
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Unread 07-13-2009, 07:24 PM   #18
MahTovChelkeinu
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the alleged intersection of Torah and Science
I think this one speaks for itself as far as the credibility of the author.

If bringing proofs for the existence of Hashem is not appropriate or helpful, then why does the Chovos Halevovos bring such a proof in Shaar HaYichud? Why does the Kuzari?

If learning about the world is a problem, why does Iyov learn about the greatness of Hashem from the workings of his own body? Why does Dovid Hamelech bring so many mosholim from nature in Tehillim?

If scientists are so horrible for changing their position in the face of new evidence and research, should we similarly reject the Alter Rebbe for changing his position in the second printing of his Shulchan Aruch?

I find the criticisms of science on this site both naive and hypocritical. Naive because it is obvious the posters have very little understanding about the things they mock. Hypocritical because what little knowledge they do have obviously came from reading the very books they condemn. I doubt the posters on this site are as careful about what they read as they preach others should be.

And for the record, I rather enjoyed Captain Planet.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 10:22 PM   #19
mvakeshet
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What did you believe was Chabad's position on this? And on what basis do you believe that?
What I wrote about the value of seeing Torah within science. Because I read Mind Over Matter.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 10:32 PM   #20
Meshulam
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Mind Over Matter expresses a very different philosophy from Schroeder's book. But I'm happy you read it.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 10:49 PM   #21
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MTC-

For the record, I never said that there was anything unkosher about Schroeder's comments on the Big Bang. I do think its rather silly to try to normalize Science with Torah, because Science changes rather rapidly.

His writings on evolution are not a flat-out denial of evolution, and anything short of a flat out denial of evolution is a flat out denial of Torah - for what that's worth.

I don't see how anything in this thread has to do with proofs of Hashem. The Kuzari's proof of Torah is logical. It is not based upon empirical data. I don't think his proof is necessary to be learned in this generation (unless someone is on the fence, and is open to being convinced of the truth of Torah) because it is philosophy, and we would be smarter to spend our time on subjects other than philosophy. But, of course, learning Kuzari is learning Torah in a way, and there certainly is no aveira in doing that.

Some of the connections you're making aren't very clear. I made the comment the science changes, and you say that the Alter Rebbe changed his mind. I don't see the connection, really. The nature of science is that it changes. The reason that it changes is that, up to and including today, it has never correctly solved the question about where we come from (inasmuch as it has never empirically determined that we're all descended from Adam and Eve, and that the world is 5769 years old) - that is, on those fundamental questions, Science is just wrong. That's quite different from the Alter Rebbe.

Your proof about the value of appreciating G-d through observable phenomena is cute - but appreciating nature doesn't necessitate learning Gerald Schroeder.

Finally, I object to your calling me a hypocrite. I was answering a question posed by a poster here. I'm not forcing my views on anyone. I don't just up and start preaching. This poster wants to know what the best use of her time is. I told her that the best use of her time is to learn Chassidus (or, admittedly, to watch Captain Planet... which I'm happy to learn you enjoy). I stand by that assessment, and I can't imagine why anyone would disagree with me.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 08:49 PM   #22
mvakeshet
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Mind Over Matter expresses a very different philosophy from Schroeder's book. But I'm happy you read it.
So am I! It's just that I didn't find the views expressed by Schroeder to be all that contradictory to the views expressed here. As a matter of fact, the book was not reconciliatory in the least!

I am asking about the other books though, and I know he tries to reconcile...
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Unread 09-30-2009, 04:03 PM   #23
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are his books consistent with what the Rebbe would consider "apologetics"?
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Unread 09-30-2009, 04:37 PM   #24
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He says the six days of creation aren't literal, no? The Rebbe rejects that theory.
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Unread 09-30-2009, 07:12 PM   #25
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He explicitly says they are literal... just from a different relativistic perspective...
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