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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. At 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 an evolutionary process. The sheer complexity and intricacy of all parts of the universe, and how they interact, clearly 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 could 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 Creation is described in the Torah, as scientists have questioned the Creation, and they have offered alternative theories as to the origin of the universe.
Anyone who approaches the universe with an objective mind realizes that the scientists who question 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 a hundred years ago have been discarded for more advanced theories. And so the pattern continues, with no end in sight.
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 one iota since the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, over three thousand years ago. Even within the world of scientists, many have reached 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 an increasing numbers of scientists.
Two fundamental errors
Many scientists scoff at the fact that, according to the Torah, the world is less than six thousand years old. They put forward calculations that clearly show the universe to be millions of years old. However, they make two fundamental errors.
First of all, 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 (see Bereishis Rabba 14:7). Since they were not born, they did not experience the normal growth patterns from infancy to adulthood. Although they appeared as twenty years of age, the truth is that they were created as mature adults. Similarly, G'd created everything else with maturity. Geological formations appeared to be millions of years old at the time of creation. In the same way, the stars were created with their light immediately reaching earth, although they were millions of light-years away.
One of the more popular ways of determining the age of any physical substance is C-14 carbon dating. 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. Obviously, if objects were created with millions of years of maturity, carbon dating cannot measure their age.
Change in nature
Secondly, carbon dating is based on the assumption that the functioning of natural laws has always been the same way. The Torah teaches that this is not the case. In next week's parasha (Noah), we read about the change in nature after the Flood when G'd said: "All the days of the earth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease anymore" (Bereishis 8:21-22). This implies that there was a time with no regular seasons. Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno explains that prior to the Flood the orbit of the sun had been in a straight circle, and therefore there were no seasons. The weather was constant like in springtime, bringing about a perfect environment for both plants and living beings. This resulted in much longer life spans, as the Torah records at the end of this week's parasha.
The sawfly refutes Darwin
Many people still cling to Darwin's theory of evolution. However, this theory has been refuted over the years by many scientists. As a case in point, a number of years ago, there was an article in the German magazine Die Zeit a number of years ago that showed the impossibility of the sawfly developing through evolution. The larva of the sawfly grows on pine trees. 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 its 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, 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 chitinous 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. Obviously, the larva could not live on pine needles until a complete mechanism was developed in order to cope with the poisonous effects of the needles. However, this would have brought the sawfly's evolutionary progress to a standstill. This is just one example. We find similar problems with the electric eel and poisonous snakes. It is physically impossible for these 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 how it functions in an exact order to the minutest detail, any objective mind will 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. The distance between them is 149,500,000 km, 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 with ice. And had it been just a little closer, all fluids on Earth would evaporate and the ground would be completely dry. This is what King David so eloquently expresses (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 body. For example, 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
To suggest that all this came about by a Big Bang and further developed by chance occurrences and mutations 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 4:28): "Jealousy, lust, 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.
We have all experienced and seen people that 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 lust to the fullest, people will allow themselves to ignore the Creator. For once they acknowledge that Someone created the universe and put humans upon earth, any honest person would have to accept that the Creator must have had a purpose with the world. The obvious consequence of this is that one has to follow the rules and instructions of the Creator.
Law of the jungle
On the other hand, when one accepts the Theory of Evolution, followed by chance occurrences, there is no one to account to at the end of days. This means that one can do whatever one wants and 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 ideologies 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 followers] have corrupted and done abominable acts. (Ibid 10:3-4). For the wicked person praises himself in the achievement of his personal lust … in the pride of his countenance [he says, G'd] will not investigate … All his thoughts are 'There is no G'd.'"
There are people who elevate themselves to control their passions and desires, and humble themselves to their fellow human beings. These people clearly see the truth and acknowledged that 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."
However, we need to understand 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. The Torah relates that 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, in Pirkei Avos (5:5) it says that there were ten wonders at the splitting of the Sea, including the formation of twelve tunnels, one for each tribe. 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 Sefer HaChinuch explains that if it G'd made it crystal clear that He split the Sea, there would be no room for free choice. The whole purpose of the Creation is that we shall be able to exercise free will to choose 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. This is how it has been since Creation. Throughout history, G'd is guiding everything, but there will always be an opportunity to question the acts of G'd. However, the honest, objective mind that seeks the truth without being affected by any personal desires or interests will see and experience the affairs of the world as acts of G'd.
These words were based on notes of Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.
Shalom. Michael Deverett
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