Monday, July 16, 2012

Can Judaism be Reconciled With Science? Part 3: Finishing Creation

                 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind, cattle and creeping things and the beasts of the earth according to their kind," and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kind and the cattle according to their kind, and all the creeping things of the ground according to their kind, and God saw that it was good. And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth." And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth." And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good, and it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day.

                So, on day number six, god creates living creatures, cattle, creeping things, and finally, man. Before we go on to man, I just noticed something, whoever wrote this book lists "creeping things" on day six and "every living creature that creepeth" back on day five. Well, so much for constancy. In addition the bible views all other living things as a precursor to man and gives man lordship over them. This begs the question, what about living things that are around today (or will be around in the future) that did not exist 5772 years ago? The other problem with this is the view that man is the final product, when in reality, we are but a link in a chain, and we will evolve into much greater things than we are today. We shall one day be a species so far removed from "modern" man, as modern man is from the simplest amoeba.
                Here is another fantastic gem, when it says "fill the earth and subdue it,” the word for subdue in Hebrew that is used, is וְכִבְשֻׁהָ however it is missing the letter vav. Rashi explains this:

                And subdue it: The“vav” in וְכִבְשֻׁהָ is missing, [allowing the word to be read וְכִבְשָׁה, the masculine singular imperative] to teach you that the male subdues the female that she should not be a gadabout (Gen. Rabbah 8:12),

                But I digress; let us return to reality, with the true history of our planet. The first animals to walk on the land lived at the latest 415 MYA; however, these are not our ancestors. Our ancestors were more like today’s amphibians, having evolved from fish, they had both gills and lungs, they also had four legs so they could walk around, they lived somewhere around 360-370 MYA. However, these tertapods (tetra means four pods means legs) still lived half their life in the water and lay their eggs in the water. Tetrapods only began living fully out of water once their eggs grew a hard enough shell so that it was waterproof and retained everything inside. The first of these were known as Amniotes, they first arose somewhere around 314-330 MYA. They split into two groups, one, the Sauropsids, would later contain all reptiles, dinosaurs and later, birds. The other Synapsids would eventually contain all mammals. The Permian-Triassic extinction wiped out most life on earth, and surviving ruling beast soon thereafter became the dinosaur. These beasts varied in size from as small as a chicken to larger than a house, they ruled the earth, some ate plants some ate other animals. They reigned supreme from 199 MYA until 65 MYA, far longer a period than humanity's collective lifespan. While the dinosaurs roamed the earth, our ancestors, the precursors to mammals, were hiding out, mostly nocturnal, and survived on insects. However, this may have helped us out as this may have accelerated our evolution, by forcing us to become warm blooded, and start growing fur. The Cretaceous–Paleocene extinction 65 MYA wiped out most of life on earth, including the dinosaurs, the early mammals however, survived.
                Following this age of the dinosaurs, we now face an earth empty of large terrestrial animals, thus setting the stage for the rise of the mammals. Most animals such as the Artiodactyla ("even-toed" taxa such as cows and pigs) and Perrisodactyla ("odd-toed" taxa, including the horses) first appeared between 55.5 and 37 MYA.
And Hashem god formed the man of soil from the earth, and blew in his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living soul.
Firstly, we are made mostly of water, not earth, why the author chose to describe our creation like this, is beyond me. Secondly, we see clearly that the author of the bible did not think that man came of other animals; man was created on its own. So without further ado, let us once again, check back with reality.
The earliest primate fossils are from 55 MYA; however, recent discoveries in genetics lead us to believe that primates might have been around as early as 85 MYA. Hominids (the great apes), first arose around 15 MYA, of these there are few remaining survivors, only orangutans, chimps, gorillas, and ourselves, survived. The first species that we have evidence that they used stone tools was Homo habilis they lived around 2.3 MYA. However, their brain was the same size as a chimpanzee’s, over the next million years approximately, their brain size had doubled and they had left Africa. Homo erectus had spread throughout Asia and Europe, they had begun to use complex tools, and had mastered the use of fire, these were not our ancestors though. Our ancestors evolved from Homo heidelbergensis, and we remained in Africa until around 50,000-100,000 years ago. Homo sapiens evolved around 200,000 years ago and were anatomically modern humans; however, it was not until 50,000 years ago that our behavior changed to modern human behavior.
In our growth from primitive animal to modern human, we have grown a lot, both physiologically and behaviorally, and each complemented the other. The one aspect I wish to focus on is our brain, what I believe sets us above all other animals. This process of encephalization is what I believe truly sets us apart as humans. Homo hablis had a brain only slightly larger than a chimpanzee at 600 cc. Homo erectus had an even larger brain at 800-1100 cc Neanderthals had the largest with an average of 1200-1900 cc. Modern humans have a brain that averages around 1330 cc. However, our brains do not do all their growing before birth, our brains continue to grow even after we are born, and this allows us to learn language, and social skills for an extended period. As important as size, if not more important, is the structure of our brain. We have grown disproportionately large temporal lobes, and prefrontal cortex, this allows for advanced language, complex decisions, social decisions, and pattern recognition.
These skills served us well, we could not only better track and hunt our prey, we could also outwit our predators, we could plan ahead by better recognizing patterns, and realizing what follows what. We begun to understand more about nature than any animal on earth ever had, we were truly “sapiens” (wise ones.) However, these skills could also betray us; we would sometimes infer patterns that were not there, leading to paranoia, superstition, and religion.
We began to see everything as a tool to be used; this gave us incredible power and advantage over other animals, and over our cousin species. We developed everything, from clothing, to agriculture, to television we learnt how to use stone and metal for any and all uses, from hammers to iphones. We developed language and even written language; we developed art, music, and culture, science and religion, history and myth. We developed methods of traveling, from horses to cars to rockets; we mastered the physical world.
We best did this by trial and error and looking to understand how things worked, we wondered about things no other animal ever thought about, and we wanted to know everything. However, everything, is not readily understood. Sometimes when we could not figure something out, we would give it our best guess, and just assume that that’s how it worked. This is ok, except that sometimes another group of people had guessed something else, and both sides could get passionate about their beliefs. The problem was that people could not discern between truth and assumption, they simply did not have the tools. People made some very wrong assumptions, they thought that the earth was flat, gods existed, and humans lived after death. They thought that everything was made of four elements, and that the planets and stars were suspended in the air on giant glasslike domes, some even thought that stars were the tips of cigars being smoked by dead heroes. In science, we find a revolutionary idea, a new way to deal with claims about reality. This new method tells us to check reality, and see which theory made the most sense. This kicked off a revolution, this lead to everything that defines us as modern humans today from modern medicine, to technology. We have since discovered that reality is a lot crazier than we could have ever imagined.
In closing, I would like to once again, pose to you the question I have posed to you originally. Do these two accounts even resemble each other? If god wrote the torah, wouldn’t he know what happened? How many “metaphors” and “epicycles” must you add to make this readable? Do you, as a sane human being accept this is literal truth? If you do, please comment and we will discuss it. If you do not view this as literal truth, why then do you think that the rest of it is literally true? Moreover, who decides what is literally true and what is metaphor? Is your literally true god hiding only in the corners where science has not arrived yet?
How much more fascinating is the truth, as opposed to superstition and myth? How much more have we gained by growing past it?

For part one of this series got to
Part 2

In an unrelated note, I will be offline for the next month or so and will not be posting. Until then, go research everything I say, never take my word for it, correct me if you can, and above all learn as much as you can.


  1. "How much more fascinating is the truth, as opposed to superstition and myth?"

    I agree completely.

    Evolution is the myth.

    The Torah is the truth.

    1. "evolution is a myth"

      how you can say so in the face of overwhelming evidence shocks me

      "the torah is the truth"

      i cant fathom why you keep posting this nonsense despite the fact that i have demonstrated how all your "proofs" are bunk

  2. >We shall one day be a species so far removed from "modern" man, as modern man is from the simplest amoeba.

    My understanding is that this is not the case, for the simple reason that Man is no longer living in the confines of nature. Death, being the ultimate arbitrator of evolution, is no longer a driving force since what death may have taken away, we now stop.

    1. first up i will confess that i do not know the future, and you may be correct. however, there is evidence that human evolution has been accelerating over the last 10,000 years

      in direct response to your argument, death is still an ongoing human condition, we all die. the question is when. if say, some people would be able to live until 200 years old and be sexually active, you can surely imagine that they would have an evolutionary advantage. in addition death does not guide evolution, genetic reshuffling, and mutation does, and that is inevitable. every time two people have sex and produce a child the child will have some genetic information that neither parent had.

      finally if you read any of ray kurzwiel' books, he believes that within the next 100 years or so humans will merge with machine (it sounds cheesy but read his stuff its worth it i promise, or at least check out his lectures.) even if you dont think that it will happen in the time frame he claims, how about in a thousand years, 100 thousand, 1 million?

      again i dont know the future and very little would surprise me in respect to how we would look, i am expecting the craziest. the only thing that would blow me away is if we didnt change at all.

    2. My point in death being the ultimate arbitrator is that even if you have genetic mutation, death will ultimately decide which species with a particular mutation will survive to the next generation and which will not. So today, you have genetic mutation which evolution would have probably naturally gotten rid (i.e., perhaps some specific disease that only targets a particular race of people). Man, purposly intervenes. Hypothetically, what if there is a genetic mutation that affects someone's seeing, how do we know that won't lead to further mutations down the line in which sight won't be as important as some other sense? Instead, we interfere and fix things to conform to very specific "normal"

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    4. insofar as we do limit evolution by our interference, we can however (in the future, not yet) rewrite the genome ourselves, eliminating disease and designing our bodies... x-ray vision will be one of the easy ones :-)

  3. >finally if you read any of ray kurzwiel' books, he believes that within the next 100 years or so humans will merge with machine

    Is that really evolution? Seems to go counter to "NATURAL selection"

    1. you are correct we can finally outgrow natural selection and we can have purposeful selection, and evolve in ways limited only by our imagination (and by whats feasible, of course)