You must all be wondering... did the Wolf go insane? Has he been howling at the moon too long? Has he become a Chareidi, Young-Earth Creationist who believes that lice grow from the ground and that the sun orbits the earth?
No, not quite.
I've posted once before on something that the Frumteens Moderator said regarding the conflict of science and statements of Chazal. However, after reading another post of his, I've decided to revisit the issue.
In short, I'm beginning to think that the FrumTeens Moderator agrees with us that Chazal weren't perfect in their knowledge of science. He just doesn't know the meaning of the word "science." Once he actually understands what it is, he might even agree with us.
For example, consider the following:
When a poster asked him about the famous Chazal statement of lice being spontaneously generated, he stated:
When Chazal discuss life, or what constitutes animal mineral or vegetable, they are using the Torah’s definitions, not the scientists’.
Now, this statement is actually fairly rational when you look at it in the proper light. For example, take the old objection by Biblical Critics that the Torah mentions the bat among the list of birds that are non-kosher. The bat, as we all know, is not a bird, but a mammal. Of course, this objection can be overturned by pointing out that the word of, which the Torah uses when mentioning these animals, does not mean what we, today, call a bird, but actually includes any and all flying creatures (except for insects which were called sheretz ha-of). By doing this, we can show that the Torah does not mistakenly call a bat a "bird."
It would seem that the FTM is actually doing the same thing here. He goes on to state:
And the Torah’s definitions of all of the above depend not on physical characteristics but spiritual ones. An inanimate object has a Nefesh Hadomem – the “spirit” (which is a better translation than “soul”) of an inanimate object; plant life has a Nefesh HaTzomeches; animal life, a Nefesh HaBehamis, and a human being, a Neshomah.
It would seem from this that the FTM would agree that, from a biological standpoint, lice do indeed come from eggs and are not spontaneously generated. That Chazal said that they were spontaneously generated is simply because they are not talking about the biological nature of the animal. (Of course, I'm being overly kind here and making the assumption that Chazal *really* knew that lice come from eggs in the biological sense.)
He reiterated this again with another post (later down in the same thread) where he brings down the Maharal (Ber Hagolah 6). He quotes the Maharal (I'm taking his word for it - I haven't looked at the original) as stating:
Some people say that Chazal were not experts in the sciences. They say this because they see things stated by Chazal regarding causes of natural phenomenon that seeem unlikely to be true. But the truth is not as these people claim, because when Chazal spoke about natural causes they did not mean superficial, physically scientific causes - that is fitting for scientists or doctors, not for our sages. Our sages, on the other hand, when they spoke about the causes of nature, were referring not to causes that are natural but to what causes nature to act the way it does.
Of course, the whole irony of the situation here is that the FTM does not know what "science" is! He's clearly taken a position that if you conduct an experiment, and find that the results of the experiment contradict statements of Chazal, it just means that the Chazal were misunderstood and were speaking spiritualy. They weren't speaking in a scientific sense; they were speaking in a spiritual sense. However, of course, that negates the very claim that Chazal knew all of science (unless, one subscribes to the dubious position that they knew lice come from eggs, but purposely made a statement that differs from their knowledge in order to make a spiritual point)! Otherwise, he wouldn't be claiming that Chazal weren't speaking from a biological standpoint - he'd be calling the scientists who maintain the existence of lice eggs liars.
So, I hereby invite the FTM to join with us. There's room under our tent for him as well. Consider the following examples:
- The universe is only a few thousand years old? Well, when Chazal said that, they meant it in a spiritual sense. On a physical level, however, it is billions of years old.
- The earth orbits the sun? Well, Chazal meant it in terms of importance, since the earth is where we are and where the Torah is kept and learned. Therefore, on a spiritual level, it's the center of the universe. However, on a purely physical level, the earth orbits the sun.
- Half earthen-half animal mice? Well, Chazal may have meant that on a spiritual level, this is to symbolize God's creation of man (or rebirth at T'chiyas HaMesim). However, on a purely physical level, such creatures don't exist.
And it goes on and on. So, how about it FTM? Care to join us rationalists? All you have to do is understand that what you are stating as "science" is exactly the opposite of it and admit that statements of Chazal are true on a *spiritual* level and not on a physical level. It's not that hard... you're already doing it on your site.
And then you can recommend Rabbi Slifkin's books. :)