KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies
Adult Genesis, Scientific Torah, not for Kids (of any age)
by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
Is the creation story in Genesis religious legend, or science fact? You might be surprised to know that it is both at the same time.
So, how can a story which is clearly
unscientific, and clearly not literal, be at the same time, scientific fact?
Granted, we can twist and turn the meaning of every word in Genesis, stand it on its head, and proclaim whatever it is that we want to be its correct interpretation. Religious commentary has been doing this since its inception. Indeed, religious commentary is an amusing genre of literature. Religious commentary should go down in history as the most imaginative genre of literature, alongside science fiction.
Let us put religious commentary, and fantasy aside. Let us ask the real difficult question, taking for granted that Moses wrote the Torah as dictated by God, what on Earth was in God's mind, and Moses' mind when the Torah was written? Now, this is a question!
Needless to say, no one ever will be able to answer this question. After all, who can read the minds of God and Moses. So, putting aside speculation, instead let us remain simple and suggest, maybe the text means just what it says?
Aside from millennia of commentary, and thousands of interpretations, maybe the text means just what the text says. But then this leads us to a serious dilemma. If we believe that God created the universe, and we now know, through God given wisdom, the science of how the universe was created, we have a contradiction between what the Word of God says, and what the acts of God reveal!
We cannot deny natural law and the discoveries of science. They have once and for all proven that a literal reading of Genesis is unscientific. Being that God is the author of all science and natural law, a literal understanding of Genesis contradicts God's revealed works. How is it possible for God to contradict God? Sounds confusing? But is really isn't! Not if we stay simple, truthful, and honest.
Let's go back to the beginning. By this I mean to the time that Moses received the Torah. Let us remember to whom the Torah was given. Torah was received by a nation of recently freed slaves. The chances are that, for the most part, they were an illiterate, uneducated people whose ideas and beliefs of spirituality were infantile to say the least. They were spiritual infants, steeped in infantile mistaken beliefs, which is the Torah definition of idolatry. Sinai was this nation's birthday. Sinai was when Israel was born.
No infant child is born with adult wisdom and intelligence. Israel, the nation, just like any individual infant needs to grow and mature, both physically and intellectually. An individual can mature over the period of a single human lifetime. A nation, however, and more so the entire human race, matures at a much slower pace. It takes thousands of years for humanity to spiritually evolve to an intellectual level of understanding the realities of the world around us.
If modern understandings of science were explained to the infant nation of Israel at its birth at Sinai, every individual would have gazed with glazed eyes, and totally confused minds, understanding absolutely nothing! The Torah would then have not been received simply because the people would not have understood anything about it.
The nation had to be nurtured like an infant. The Torah the nation received was, therefore, written for the spiritual infants that the people were. This concept was well known by our ancient Sages, who stated that the Torah speaks in the language of man. The Torah was originally given to Moses in a form that the infant nation, at that time, could and would understand. It addressed their limited understandings of the cosmos and spirituality.
What Moses told ancient Israel at the time of their birth was the relative truth that they could understand at that time. It was a simple explanation, similar to the explanations that we ourselves give to our children when we need to explain something complex to simple-minded children.
Let me provide an example. When I was a child my father told me is strong, stern words, not to touch the electric socket. I complied. Yet, as I grew older and became more aware of electricity, and its dangers, I could approach that electric socket in safety, and without angering my father, who, after all, only feared for my safety before I was old enough to understand for myself. As an adult, I understand the need to instruct children in short, straight, and stern words to keep them safe. As an adult, I understand that I no longer need the same safeguards that I did when I was a child.
Torah speaks the language of man, just as are the warnings of a caring father. What the father tells the child in his youth remains true forever, but, it must be reinterpreted, and understood anew once the child him/herself becomes the adult. Many teachings of the Torah need to be understood in this proper light.
Genesis was spoken in a way that made sense to the people of ancient times. Genesis today makes equal sense when we view it now as spiritual adults who are looking back to the instructions that we received as children. It makes perfect sense, it is literally true, but all within the context of spiritual infancy. Now, as spiritual adults, educated in the science behind the acts of God, we can now look back upon Genesis, and value it in a completely new light.
When we apply our modern knowledge of science to understanding Genesis, recognizing the text for what it is as symbolic metaphors, and exploring now the depths and meanings of these metaphors, we find that we discover layers and layers of new depths in the Torah, that was invisible to us when we gazed into the Torah with only children's eyes. This is the way God has meant it to be.
God handed to Moses a Torah that was compact and concentrated. Once we added the “water” of wisdom, and scientific discovery, we discover so much more in Torah that we never dreamed could possibly have been there. Yet, all of this is only possible to the one who gazes in Torah with the eyes of the spiritual adult, with scientific knowledge, and rational insight.
Only the one who can recognize metaphor for what it is, and not succumb to the fears of childhood, only such a one can see clearly and precisely how God's words in Genesis, and God's actions in creation compliment one another in full accord. There is not now, nor has there ever been any contradiction. Science, the revealed Hand of God is true, and these truths have unlocked for us the true understandings of Genesis.
For the record, the insights that I have shared here are not my own. These truths were recognized long ago, and recorded in print by none less than Moses Maimonides, in his authoritative, Guide to the Perplexed.
In conclusion, there is not, and can never be any conflict or disagreement between the Word of God, and the Acts of God. Torah and science are one and the same. Each teaches us about the other. Included in science is the study of natural law (physics), biology, chemistry, and mathematics of all kinds. Learn these and apply their lessons to Genesis, and the Word of God becomes alive to us! This is the true way to be religious.
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The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright (C) 1997 - 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.