Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So You "Learn" Because the Talmud is the "Mind of God...?"

How many of you have heard from overeager BT's or even Rabbis that they knew all this rabbinic judaism was "true" because learning gemara revealed the "Mind of God?"

You won't hear that phrase in the litvish circles, but they would no doubt say something along those lines about the gemara- that studying it gives one insight into what God "thinks" or perhaps strengthens their emunah because everything "fits together so well."

Strange, the gemara doesn't really fit together so well, now does it? And as for this mind of god business, well, just read and random page and I dare you to believe god had anything to do with it.

If Orthodox Jews are so convinced there must be a creator because of the complexity of the world, and how well the world "fits together," I have a suggestion: instead of wasting all day reading the gemara, learn "Molecular Biology of the Cell" by Alberts, et al., or a similar text, to study the majesty of "god's work."

The more you learn, the more you will be duly impressed, but your emunah, where will it go? I'd bet my bottom shekel that, once you'd studied, with a chavrusa even better, you'd come to the same conclusion as 99.9% of biologists- that all this amazingly intricate function of the cell and its organelles, DNA, RNA, etc., all came about through a long, progressive course through minute changes over the eons. You'd have a very difficult time with Noah's Ark, or any of Genesis.

But that's OK! Just because orthodox judaism isn't so accurate, and Molecular Biology of the Cell is a far better representation of the true "mind of God"- unfeeling, uncaring, unthinking evolutionary progress over millions of years resulting in fantastic complexity- none of this means you can't glean some of the wisdom of the religion and toss out the rest that is pure nonsense.

PS- I am aware of the frum doctors who know these subjects well yet still believe, but I think that is more a function of their willingness to completely partition their rational professional pursuits from their religious ones. Ironically, the folks that trot out "Intelligent Design" are almost never people that have studied biology to any great extent. The great exception is Collins, but he's no creationist, and rather claims that God 'designed' evolution. A sorry copout indeed.