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Torah Attitude: Parashas Bereishis: "An act of G'd"


The universe was created in seven days. Scientists are groping and searching to explain the wonders of the universe. The Torah's explanation of the Creation has not changed for over three thousand years. In the beginning of the Creation, G'd made mature creatures. Scientists make two fundamental errors in their assumptions. C-14 carbon dating is unreliable. There was a change in nature as a result of the Flood. The theory of evolution by Darwin has been refuted. It is physically impossible for some animals to have developed immunity to poisons, toxins and other deadly substances through the evolutionary process. The sheer complexity and intricacy of all parts of the universe and how they interact points to a Creator who designed it all with great precision. For example, the relationship between the Sun and Earth or the workings of the human eye did not develop by chance or mutation. "Jealousy, passions, and honour-seeking take a person out of this world". Any honest person would feel obligated to follow the instructions of the Creator. The Theory of Evolution led Nazi Germany to develop their horrendous atrocities. G'd made the wind blow at the Red Sea to allow for free will. The honest, objective mind seeks the truth and sees and experiences the Creation as an act of G'd.

Seven days of Creation

This week's parasha describes the creation of the universe in the course of seven days. Many people find it difficult to accept the way the Creation is described in the Torah, as scientific discoveries over the last centuries have called into question the Creation and have offered alternative theories as to the origin of the universe.

Scientists groping

Anyone who approaches the development of the universe with an objective perspective realizes that the scientists who question the Creation are themselves groping and searching to explain the wonders of the world, both the macrocosm of galaxies and the microcosm of our planet and everything on it. Scientific theories that were accepted one hundred years ago have been discarded for more advanced theories. And so the pattern continues, with no end in sight.

Unchanging Torah

On the other hand, the description of the creation of the universe set out in the Written Torah, and explained by our sages, has not changed since the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, over three thousand years ago. Even within the world of scientists, many have come to the conclusion that there is a higher power that created and controls the universe. At the same time, the scientific theories that seek to discredit the Creation are being questioned by increasing numbers of scientists.

Two fundamental errors

Many scientists scoff at the description of Creation in the Torah as being under six thousands years old. They put forward measurements that clearly show the universe to be millions of years old. However, they make two fundamental errors in their assumptions: (1) that nothing was created with maturity; and (2) that the laws of nature never changed.

Mature creatures

According to the Torah, G'd created mature beings. Our sages tell us that Adam and Eve were created as grown-ups, twenty years old (Bereishis Rabba 14:7). They were not born and did not experience the normal growth patterns from infancy to adulthood. Although they appeared to have grown into twenty year old adults, the truth is that they were created to enjoy their first moments of existence as mature adults. Similarly, G'd created everything else with maturity, such as geological formations, some of which appeared to be millions of years old. In the same way, the stars were created with their light immediately reaching earth although they were millions of light-years away.

Carbon dating

One of the more popular theories of determining the age of physical substances is C-14 carbon dating. However, this method is based on an assumption that atomic disintegration has been constant from the beginning of the substance's existence. However, this is totally unreliable, for if objects were created with millions of years of maturity, carbon dating cannot measure their age.

Change in nature

In addition, carbon dating assumes that the functioning of natural laws has always been constant. In next week's Torah portion (Noah), we read about the change in nature after the Flood when G'd said: "Continuously all the days of the earth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Bereishis 8:21-22). This implies that prior to the flood there were no regular seasons or times. Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno explains that prior to the Flood the orbit of the sun had been in a straight circle which caused there to be no seasons. The weather was constant like in springtime, bringing about a perfect environment for both plants and living beings resulting in much longer life spans.

The sawfly refutes Darwin

The very famous theory of evolution by Darwin has been refuted over the years by many scientists. A number of years ago, there was an article in the German magazine Die Zeit, showing the impossibility that the sawfly developed through evolution. Although the resins and oils of the pine tree are highly toxic to all other insects, the larva of the sawfly carves out an ecological niche on the fragrant needles. The larva is capable of eating these needles without being poisoned. It somehow separates the poisonous oils and resins from the digestible pulp in order to avoid them entering into its digestive tract and stores them in two goiter-like sacks located at the sides of its oral cavity. These sacks are covered with a shitinous membrane and are thus insensitive to the resin acids. According to the theory of evolution, some ancient variety of the sawfly larva must have switched from a normal leafy diet to one of the needles. This change could only have occurred through gradual mutations. In order to stimulate the larva to develop a mechanism for digestive separation and protection, its food must have already consisted of pine needles. On the other hand, the larva could not live on pine needles until a complete mechanism was developed in order to cope with the poisonous affects of the needles. This would have brought the sawfly's evolutionary progress to a standstill. We find similar problems with the electric eel and poisonous snakes. It is physically impossible for some animals to have developed immunity to poisons, toxins and other deadly substances through the evolutionary process.

The Sun and Earth

Just by looking at the universe, in all its magnificent glory, and by observing the exact order to the minutest detail, the objective mind must conclude that there must be a Master who created it all. The sheer complexity and intricacy of all the parts of the universe, and how they interact, clearly points to a Creator who designed it all with great precision. For example, there is an extraordinary relationship between the Sun and the Earth. There is a distance of 149,500,000 km between them, which is the exact distance necessary to make the conditions of life possible here on the Earth. If the Sun had been just a little further away, the whole Earth would be covered in ice. And had it been just a little closer, all fluids on Earth would evaporate and the ground would go completely dry. This is what King David so eloquently expressed, (Tehillim 19): "The Heavens declare the glory of G'd. And the firmament shows His handiwork…"

The human eye

Another proof of the hand of the Creator is the intricacy of the human body. Even a superficial study of the eye will reveal a sophisticated camera with photo systems, self-cleaning abilities, and transmission facilities to send information to the brain. It is totally beyond question that such a complex series of functions could have developed by chance and mutation. And this is just one example of what Job declared, (Job 19:26): "From my flesh I see G'd."

Jealousy, passions and honour-seeking

All this coming about by a Big Bang further developed by chance occurrences and mutations along the way is as likely as a printed book being produced by a big explosion in a printing press. So how can it be that millions of educated people allow themselves to believe in the Theory of Evolution? We may find the answer in the words of the Mishnah: (Pirkei Avos 4:21), "Jealousy, passions, and honour-seeking take a person out of this world". These three character traits cause people to lose their objective mind and turn a blind-eye to even the most obvious facts.

Honest obligation

We have all experienced and seen people act totally irrational because of their jealousy, strong passions, and pride. Rabbi Saadia Gaon explains in his introduction to Emunot Ve'deot (Beliefs and Character Traits) that in order to satisfy one's passions to the fullest, people will allow themselves to ignore the Creator. For once they acknowledge that there is Someone Who created the universe and put humans upon this earth, any honest person would have to accept that the Creator must have had a purpose with the world. An obvious consequence of this would be that one would have to follow the rules and instructions of the Creator.

Law of the jungle

But by following the Theory of Evolution and chance occurrences, there is no one to account to at the end of days. This means that one can follow the law of the jungle, where the survival of the fittest is the rule. It is no secret that this was one of the basic ideas that lead Nazi Germany to develop their horrendous atrocities. This is what King David refers to when he says: (Tehillim 14:1) "The vile person says in his heart, 'There is no G'd.' They [the vile person and his people] have corrupted and done abominable acts. (Ibid 10:3-4). For the wicked person praises himself in the achievement of his personal desire … in the pride of his countenance [he says, G'd] will not investigate … All his thoughts are 'There is no G'd.'"

The Truth

On the other hand, we find that people who were able to elevate themselves to control their passions and desires and humble themselves to their fellow human beings, clearly saw the truth and acknowledged: there is a Creator who runs the world. The very respected Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who grew up in a country full of idol-worship, wrote in his book, My Struggles with Truth: "Truth to me is the most fundamental of principles … Not only the relative truth that is within our comprehension, but the absolute and eternal truth - G'd … The innumerable manifestations of divinity strike me with amazement and awe … Day by day, my recognition grows that He alone is, and that all the rest is not real at all … The means of learning the Truth are so simple as they are difficult. Sometimes they are beyond the ability of a prideful person, but are within the reach of an innocent child. He who searches for the truth must humble himself until he is but dust … even lower than this. Then, and only then, will he be able to see even the merest glimpse of the Truth."

Free will

Why did G'd create a world where people can make mistakes and think that it came about by chance occurrences? Would it not make more sense that the Creator would show Himself clearly and show the world Who is in charge? We might be able to answer this by analyzing what happened at the splitting of the Sea. This event was preceded by a strong wind, as it says, (Shemos 14:21) "G'd moved the Sea with a strong east wind overnight … and the waters split." However, we are also told that there were ten wonders at the splitting of the Sea, including the creation of twelve tunnels, one for each tribe (see Pirkei Avos 5:4). These obviously were not the workings of the wind. So why did G'd make the wind blow at all? Did this not make it look like that the wind was responsible for the miracles at the sea? The answer is that if it was crystal clear that G'd split the Sea, there would be no room for free choice. The whole purpose of the Creation is that we should be able to exercise free will to decide between right and wrong, between good and evil, with reward and punishment as consequences. Even though that there is 99.9% proof that the Hand of G'd is behind all of Creation, G'd will always leave some opportunity for those who wish to choose wrong and pursue evil. Otherwise, there would be no choice, no reward, and no purpose to Creation. There will always be the opportunity, starting from the beginning of the Creation and continuing throughout history, to question the methods and motives of G'd. However, the honest, objective mind seeks the truth without being affected by any personal passions or interests and sees and experiences the Creation as an act of G'd.

These words were based on a talk given by Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.

Shalom. Michael Deverett

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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel