Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Exactly Whom Is Doing The Arguing?

DovBear had a guest post from a blogger named "Ed" dealing with age of the earth issues. In the comments for that post, a person named Yosef asked the following question...

Why does everyone get so worked up unnecessarily? There are plenty of sources that make it perfectly clear that Hashem created a mature world, just like Adam was created fully grown. We wouldn't expect the world to look literally 5,767 years old anyway. How much hevel havalim over nothing!!!

Well, to be honest, it's not the people who are willing to accept scientific evidence who are the ones getting worked up - it's those who stick to a straight Young Earth Creationist (YEC) model.

If Yosef is correct that it's all an argument over nothing at all, the following conversation would take place:

Scientist: The earth is about 4 billion years old
YEC: You're right, the world does appear that old. However, we believe that God created the world to look mature.
Scientist: But you can't prove that! It's not scientific.
YEC: You're right, it's not. But it's what we believe.

However, that's not what happens. What happens is this:

Scientist: The earth is about 4 billion years old.
YEC: No it's not. Your carbon-14 dating is all wrong, you don't have a complete fossil record, half-life decay rates could have changed, galaxies aren't receding, yadda yadda yadda...

In other words, the YEC could simply say, "yes, you're right, based on the physical evidence, it appears that the world is very old. Had we not had a tradition that God created the world 5767 years ago, we'd agree with you." But that's not what happens - instead YECs try to show the scientist that his science is wrong and that he doesn't know anything about science anyway.

It's not the scientists who are getting "all worked up" and doing all the arguing. It's the YEC who are making the most noise.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

Great point Wolf!

If you look at a recent JO issue about the subject, one of the writers bascially says "We have a tradition and the science does not matter". That is a more reasonable approach than trying to disprove the science which is impossible. The only other logical approach is to accept the scientific age and re-insterpret Breishis.

and so it shall be... said...

I've been sayg this for a while. It is shocking how insecure the hard-right orthodox are. They are terrified for reasons I cannot comprehend and crashing and burning (in terms of prestige and credibility, not numbers) in a pathetic spectacle of pointless dogma.

Ezzie said...

Solid post.

I'd add that part of the problem is that those debating the subject are often arguing with a number of people at once - and those people don't necessarily realize that they actually aren't saying the same thing. One person might accept that the world is 15 billion years old but say that Breishis is to be read another way, while the next might be more like this YEC. Meanwhile, they're both debating someone who is arguing that the Torah is wrong as a literal 5767 or whatnot... and it all gets confusing as they contradict each other while arguing with him.

PsychoToddler said...

That's a nice way to look at it. It's too bad people can't be more like the first (even though, frankly, that makes no sense. Having a world that is complete, like a complete human, makes sense. Having a world filled with the bones of extinct animals makes no sense).

Shouldn't it be "who is doing the arguing?"

Anonymous said...

Nice comment Flatbushtorahjew.

Can someone once and for all give us "THE" definition (according to halachah with sources) on who is a kofer and what kfira is? Lets just end this now.

Anonymous said...

What are you smoking? Wolf did NOT mention the name of the rav in question. He then removed the post based on feedback. Very honorable in my book, unlike you who illogically lambaste Wolf. Try using persuasive argument; it is more effective!

BrooklynWolf said...

Heck, I'll do one better. I don't even *know* the name of the rav in question, so I couldn't have posted it even if I wanted to.

(Which, BTW, had I known the name of the rav, I probably would have been more careful about posting it anyway).

And, of course, this is all off-topic to the post anyway...

The Wolf

Orthonomics said...

I must prefer conversation number one and I'm always surprised when those without a scientific background (I include myself since my highest level of science was AP Chemistry and College Physics) try to argue principles that are far beyond the basics.

The Rosh Kollel of the community kollel where I used to live used to tell some of the college students in his class: I can't discuss science with you because I don't have an education in science. I can teach Torah since that is where my education lies.

To this day, I have a great amount of admiration for this talmid chacham because he only spoke on subjects he knew about and never denigrated other subjects.

Anonymous said...


Your accusations are absolutely baseless. You are a Rosha for making up stories about Wolf and are even worse for black-mailing the blogger with them. Your behavior is not only unethical, but their baselessness would make them illegal.

I think Flatbushtorahjew is just out to make frum people look bad. He is potraying those "torah jews" from "flatbush" as zealots who would make up things to silence honest bloggers. If I am wrong, he/she needs some psychological help, and fast.

DYM said...

i just think the explanation that the Earth was created to look old is incredibly unsatisfying, and I personally feel cheated by the argument. Not to mention feel cheated by G-d if the argument is true. Why would G-d engage in such blatant deception of our senses? Is there any other time when G-d purposefully deceives us? The whole idea is a real stretch.

BrooklynWolf said...


I agree with you. I personally don't like the Gosse theory either. But my post wasn't about the viability of Gosse.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

I missed the post The (if I may be so bold as to refer to Mr. Wolf by his first name) took down. I think the notice that he was taking it down showed the menshlichkeit I've come to expect from him.

Anyhow, The Wolf did the best he could, as far as I know, to undo whatever damage he was afraid he might have done. I don't know if he made amends to whoever he might have needed to make amends to, and I don't know if he confessed to God. There's no reason for me to know. It's none of my business, but I assume he did. Maybe I don't need to assume anything, but it would sure be wrong to assume he didn't. In other words, I assume he did teshuvah.

The "torahjew" from Flatbush has no business assuming The Wolf didn't do teshuvah. And if he did teshuvah, bashing him about it is forbidden.

That's the pious stuff, inspired by TJ's inappropriate moniker. If I were to state it without pious terminology, I'd say that TJ's behavior is reprehensible, and he should be ashamed of himself. I don't blame him for being anonymous--I'd be embarrassed too.

The Wolf did teshuvah in the venue where he thought he did something teshuvahworthy. TJ, if you're such a torahjew, I call your bluff. Let's see you do some teshuvah right here, on this comment board.

And by the way, excellent post, The.