Friday, October 28, 2011

Breishis - Creationism and Evolutionism

In fact, the arguments between the "Evolutionists" and the "Creationists" that have been occurring in the modern world (and especially in politics and the internet) imply that neither side understands what the issues involved might be. The "Evolutionists" assume that as long as the "science" seems to indicate that evolution is a valid process, then that disproves creation. One of the logical flaws that this leads to is the fact that no matter how far back one goes, the Evolutionist doctrine requires a prior source. The "Creationists" assume that there can be no physical evidence for the existence of the universe before whatever arbitrary time is assumed for the creation. Isaac Asimov once wrote an article discussing the "Big Bang". In it he came up with an explanation of the Big bang that involved the collision of two proto-universes. He then follows the analysis back to what "created" the proto-universes and what "created" whatever he called that previous "creation". He then waves his hand and says that "proves" that creation is not true.

One point that this ignores is that the definition of "creation" implies that the universe could have been created at any point in its development with all the evidence that the Evolutionists rely on. This is the main flaw in the Creationist argument as well. Just as the Torah states that the trees were created bearing ripe fruit, animals must have been created with appropriate age distribution in the herds, passenger pigeons require massive flocks to survive, mushrooms require dead trees on which to grow ... That is, the unstated assumption of the Evolutionist is that creation must occur with everything in a beginning state. An example of this is the assumption that Adam could not have seen the stars because the light would not have had the time to reach the Earth and be visible in the night sky. In fact, once one assumes creation, one cannot prove that the universe was not created with this post on your computer screen while you are in the middle of reading it. The universe could have been created 5 seconds, 5,732 years, or 15 billion years ago and we would be unable to tell the difference.

As can be seen this is the same logical flaw that disproves the pagan definition of "gods" (small g deliberate) as it leads to an infinitely recursive definition set. In the various myths of the various pagan religions, the "gods" are always defined as the "children" of a "father god" and a "mother" with handwaving taking the place of the original "father" and "mother". Consider the Asgardian myths, the Greek myths, the Babylonian myths. They all have the "original" deities being the children of a pre-existing being of some sort which is just assumed to have been there. For example, consider The Norse Creation Myth which begins


The first world to exist was Muspell, a place of light and heat whose flames are so hot that those who are not native to that land cannot endure it. Surt sits at Muspell's border, guarding the land with a flaming sword. At the end of the world he will vanquish all the gods and burn the whole world with fire.

Ginnungagap and Niflheim

Beyond Muspell lay the great and yawning void named Ginnungagap, and beyond Ginnungagap lay the dark, cold realm of Niflheim. Ice, frost, wind, rain and heavy cold emanated from Niflheim, meeting in Ginnungagap the soft air, heat, light, and soft air from Muspell.


Where heat and cold met appeared thawing drops, and this running fluid grew into a giant frost ogre named Ymir.
 Later, there is a "creation" of a  a man named Buri who had a son named "Bor" who had a son name "Odin". There is no explanation of who Buri married. However, in the summary above, we see no explanation where Muspellheim, Surt, Ginnungagap, and Niflheim actually came from.

In any case, the monotheistic religions take the pagan idea and state that no matter how far back one must go, there must eventually be a "Prime Cause" because of the Turtles All The Way Down paradox. In this case, the idea of the monotheistic religions is that since the "gods" each require a creator, they are not worth worshiping and only the Primal Cause can be omniscient, omnipotent , or "outside the Universe". Thus only this Primal Cause is worth worshiping no matter how many levels of intermediaries there might be. The main monotheistic religions state that as a result of this, there is no point in assuming the levels of intermediaries since there is no evidence that they exist. As a result, the Primal Cause must have created the physical universe directly. It is only at that point that the physical evidence that the Evolutionists rely could have begun.

The main flaw in the Creationist argument is the assumption that there must be a flaw in the physical evidence. That is, they refuse to accept that the process of Evolution can be true at all or that the physical evidence can exist. It is as if they assume that if creation occurred 5,772 years ago, there can be no fossil evidence in the layers of the Earth. It is as if they assume that G0d would be lying to them if the physical evidence of the evolution appeared. It would be like the question that Clarence Darrow asked Williams Jennings Bryan at the Scopes trial "Did Adam have a navel?". It would be like claiming that trees could not have tree rings showing the apparent age or that Adam could not have seen the stars because the light would not have had the time to reach the Earth.

The result of this is that both the Evolutionists and the Creationists are arguing about different matters and from totally different assumptions. Thus, the argument in the modern world is actually meaningless.

Another interesting point is actually the quote from the Bible regarding the days of creation. Each day is given as a separate and unique creation.

One day.
A second day.
A third day.

It is only the final day that it says "the sixth day". That is only at the final end of creation does the "program" actually start running. Every other day is just an explicit building of another segment.

Why was Noach "forced" into the teivah?

I have always wondered why Noach being forced in to the teivah by the flood water should be counted a flaw. Why couldn't it be that he waited until the very last moment for the people to do teshuvah? Couldn't it be that he was like Avrohom praying for S'dom up until the final decree? This seems to be the reason why we say "forced by the flood waters". When Hashem told Avrohom "there are not 10 tzadikim", Avrohom stopped. He saw that S'dom had passed the point of no return and the judgement was final. Noach saw that the rain had already come, the "light rain" (from the medrash of hashem giving the last chance to people) had passed, the heavy rain had come, the flood waters had started rising, the last opportunity had passed. Yet he still waited until the flood waters had "forced" him into the taivah. This showed that he was not waiting because he wanted to hope that people would do teshuvah at the last minute.

The medrash states that the word for everything perishing (vayigva) implies being "put to sleep" rather than being left to drown as the flood waters rose. By the time Noach had been forced into the teivah, he would have seen his and known that there was no point in waiting.

Noach, "tmimus" and his worlds

I saw an interesting dvar Torah on Noach about "tamim haya bedorosav". The word "bdorosav" is plural meaning that he was "tamim" in all three of the types of situation that he lived in; before, during, and after the flood. That is, he reacted to each circumstance by trying to follow hashem. Before the flood, he reacted to the circumstance of having to live among reshaim and attempting to remain holy. During the flood, as the medrashim state, he was constantly busy maintaining and supporting the animals in the taivah and attempting to keep the remnants of the world alive through the transition. During the aftermath, he became an " ish sadeh", attempting to regenerate the world and restore civilization.

One of the points seems to be that he was unable to maintain the level of "tzidkus" without the full infrastructure that allowed him to be isolated from the rest of the world. In order to succeed at each of the tasks that faced him, he had to throw himself into the role required by that task, and be "tamim" in that role.

To survive in the world before the flood, he had to isolate himself and become a tzadik. This explains the argument as to whether he would have been greater in the time of Avraham or not. Was it a matter of his needing to be isolated in order to survive and reach the level that he did, and he would have been greater in the time of Avraham? Was it a matter of this was the best that he could do and he could not have reached a higher level, so that he would not have been able to reach a higher level in the time of Avraham.

The medrash that he did not sleep for the entire year of the flood, but was constantly busy feeding the animals, cleaning the teivah, etc also hints at this. The appropriate role for that time was one of constant effort. He threw himself into that effort. However, he could not be a "tzadik" in the same sense as he had been before because there was no one to interact with and no opportunity to do anything else.

After the flood, he became an "ish sadeh". Here too in this role he was "tamim". Unfortunately, this was actually a flaw. He was completely a "man of the field". He became so completely a part of this role that when the pressure eased up a little (after the harvest) he became drunk. Here, "tmimus" was actually a flaw. He should have been able to transcend his current role and been a "tzadik" even in that case.

This can also be a different explanation of the phrase "tamim haya bedorosav". He was only able to maintain himself as tamim during the generations (he was 600 at the time of the flood) that he lived among a society that could be considered a surrounding fence. Once the "pressure was off" he could not maintain the same level of behavior. This is similar to the way that many historians (such as Rabbi Berel Wein and Rabbi Dovid Katz) explain what happened after the ghettos were abolished or what happened in the United States.  Rabbi Wein has used the phrase "a mile wide and an inch thick". This could be another difference between Avrohom's generation and that of Noach. Avrohom had to fight the society around him and constantly reject the pressure around him to conform. Noach had no pressure whatsoever. He was alone in the world and whatever he did, he would still be the "best". It is like the story of the man who arranged for his daughter to marry the "best boy in the Yeshivah". They married and moved to the town  where the father-in-law supported them. After a while, the father-in-law noticed a slackening of the young man's efforts. When he spoke to the boy, he responded that he was learning more and with more intensity than anone in the town. The father-in-law answered that this was not what he had in mind when he said "best". Similaraly, the lack of the pressure that noach had used to keep himself a tzadik contributed to his downfall.