[b-hebrew] Academic Debate: bibliography

belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr
Sat Nov 3 06:08:25 EDT 2007

Dear Yigal, Dave and Shoshanna,

It is probably helpful to review the problem in the light of the  
historically shifting understanding of the Biblical texts we read.

(1) Dave Washburn writes to Yigal Levin

... How many hurricanes have been observed in "controlled conditions"?  
  Or glacier formation?  Or the Big Bang?...

There is today a widespread and respected opinion that the Big Bang is  
just a physically observed event which is a part of what the Book of  
Genesis describes as "the Creation of nothing". Interestingly enough,  
Ramban (or Nahmanides, 1194?c. 1270, Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, Catalan  
rabbi, philosopher, physician, Kabbalist and biblical commentator) has  
correctly described in his Biblical exegesis the most astonishing  
scientific aspects of what we call today the Big Bang: that it was the  
"moment" when were created (replace by "have emerged" if you have a  
difficulty with "creation" - BARA) time and space. For modern science,  
it took centuries to come to this conclusion, with the "rational  
reasoning", from Hobbs to Laplace to modern philosophers of  
materialist leaning, mocking the plain meaning of exactly this part of  
the Book of Genesis as an obvious nonsense. It shows that what we call  
"rational" changes with time, and today it is quite a scientifically  
respected rational enterprise to imagine the first few seconds after  

A good book on the evolution of the scientific thought is "Theology  
and the scientific imagination from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth  
century", by Amos Funkenstein.

(2) On the other hand, Rivka Feldhay, an Israeli professor, has  
written a very good book on a particular case of the conflict between  
science and theology, "Galileo and the Church: Political Inquisition  
or Critical Dialogue?".

My point is that two extreme positions, exemplified in our debate by,  
say, Yigal and Shoshanna, are just two reasonable points on the  
many-dimensional and fascinating for me picture of the return of  
modern science to a more respectful  attitude toward the plain and  
hidden meaning of the, in this case Hebrew, Bible.

Edward G. Belaga

> At 6:34 AM +0000 11/1/07, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
>> but the above does illustrate the
>> background from which we come -- one where rationalistic thought is
>> more powerful than supernatural phenomena.
>> Yitzhak Sapir
> That's because there IS NO SUCH thing as "supernatural phenomena"
> 1.  Everything works according to the laws that G-d set into motion,
> and G-d does not break (He could, but doesn't need to - everything
> has been all taken into consideration in advance) His own laws,
> therefore nothing takes place outside the realm of "nature".
> 2.  So-called "miracles" do not take place outside the laws that G-d
> put into motion, either; they are only events that occur very
> infrequently, and the miracle is the TIMING of when they took place,
> ie; parting of Yam Suf - there were "natural" reasons for it, even
> though the conditions which all had to be in place in order for it to
> occur were very rare, the miracle is that all the conditions occurred
> simultaneously when they did.
> 3.  Besides this physical realm, which is all that we can perceive
> with our 5 senses, there are more highly refined, "spiritual" realms
> of Existence populated by all kinds of beings, which our 5 senses
> cannot perceive, and that doesn't mean that they don't exist.
> 4.  The laws of cause and effect that G-d created, exist and operate
> not only in this physical realm, but also in all the spiritual
> realms, and they are interdependent and affect each other, ie;
> physical actions also have reactions in the spiritual realms, which
> go on to cause reactions in the physical realm.
> 5.  What we call "supernatural phenomena" are events that take place
> or maybe began in the layers of Existence which our 5 senses don't
> perceive, and then when we see the results here in this physical
> world without seeing all the cause and effects in the spiritual
> worlds, it only SEEMS to us that they are "outside" of "nature".
> 6.  The reason that the Torah and rabbis stressed proper action in
> this physical world is because of the reactions that our actions have
> in the spiritual realms which then come back, either positively or
> negatively, to us.  And that is why "rationalist thought" based on
> the Torah, of what is recommended behavior in new and unfolding
> situations through time, is more powerful than "supernatural"
> phenomena - because our actions ARE THE CAUSE of reactions in the
> spiritual realms, which is where our sustenance comes from - all
> according to the Laws that G-d set into place - and actually - are -
> most powerful.
> Shoshanna Walker

Edward G. Belaga
Institut de Recherche en Mathématique Avancée
Universite Louis Pasteur
7, rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE
tel.: 333 90 24 02 35, FAX: 333 90 24 03 28
e-mail : edward.belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr

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