• Rabbi Yisroel Zaltzman

Signs Within Science

AS THE THE MESSIANIC REDEMPTION unfolds, one of the social trends predicted by Torah sources is the revolution that is now underway in the world of science and technology. It is an intellectual revolution based on scientific discovery. The essential notion revolutionizing the academic world and society generally is that the basic principles of religion and the basic findings of natural science not only do not conflict, but also actually harmonize exquisitely.

For example:

  • Modern Physics acknowledges that the universe depends on a higher consciousness 1 that continuously creates, sustains 2 and co-ordinates all the material and energy in the universe. This is essentially the Chassidic view of continuous creation. 

  • Relativity theory 3 shows that the idea of an earth-centered planetary system is just as valid as a sun-centered solar system. 4 This is the Torah's view.

  • Quantum theory has given man the central role of being the pre-planned goal of the cosmos from it’s beginning, since for physical reality to emerge from a potential to actual state requires the participation of a conscious observer. 5, 6, 7 This is a modern paraphrase of the ancient Jewish teaching obliging belief that "For my sake was the world created."

  • Many quantum physicists 8 even maintain that for physi­cal reality to exist, the observer-participant must possess free will, since consciousness needs a physically unconstrained means to act on the quantum system. This negates the popular misconception that people's actions are merely a product of nature and nurture. Thus science supports free choice and hence moral accountability. 

  • Neurobiology has revealed a nonphysical mind that tran­scends the physical brain in man. 9 This negates the materialistic view of man and supports the traditional notion of the human soul. 

  • Molecular chemistry has revealed an atomic alphabet of some 100 elements, generating billions of compounds, parallel to the Divine Aleph-Bet generating everything. 10

  • Regarding the origin of species, leading scientists have demoted neo-Darwinian evolution from the rank of fact to the level of unrealistic speculation, 11 based on methodological, 12 mathematical, 13 genetic, 14 statistical, 15 system theoretic, 16 paleontogical, 17 and experimental concerns, in both field and laboratory studies. 18 This leaves individual creation of species a more viable alternative. 

  • Ecology and environmental activism are based on the conviction that one small deed (or even a thought) 19 can make a disproportionately huge impact in the world, like the Torah notion of personal repentance catalyzing global redemption.

  • Chaos theory shows that a few simple rules generate a hidden order that unifies apparently random events in a wide variety of contexts. 20 This is like random, natural events being guided by particular divine providence according to Torah prin­ciples.

  • The implications of Omega Point theory developed by renowned physicist Frank Tipler, are summed up in the title of his 1994 book published by Doubleday, "The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, G‑d, and the Resurrection of the Dead."

  • The discoveries of radio waves, the harnessing of electric energy, electronic media, and the internet have brought us to the era of all knowledge being everywhere at all times - a tangible analogue of omniscience and omnipresence. 

  • Since 1992, there has been a sustained 1000% leap followed by a steady increase in the number of science articles dealing with G‑d and transcendence. 21 This is concurrent with the Rebbe's proclamation that Moshiach has been revealed and that global redemption has begun. 

  • Over the past 15 years, there has been a radical and favor­able shift in the attitude of science journals towards transcendence as evidenced by the topics of spiritually-indexed articles surveyed from the standard database science citation abstracts 22. This is in harmony with Biblical and Talmudic prophecies that mankind will finally achieve consensus regard­ing the presence of the Creator both within and beyond nature. 

  • Popular media attention is even more intensely focused on the new integration of religion and science. 23 This is in line with the prophetic assurance regarding the Messianic Era that "The world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the sea." 24

Simultaneous with this upwelling of secular wisdom, and even spiritual sensitivity of secular wisdom, there has been a parallel outpouring of novel concepts in G‑d consciousness in the form of Chassidic teachings generally, accelerating with Chabad Chassidism more specifically, and fairly exploding with the Chassidic teachings of the Rebbe. This synchronized and integrated blossoming of Divine and secular wisdom has been anticipated for thousands of years, in the mystical tradition of authentic Judaism. Thus the Zohar states that in the years circa S600 (1840 c.E.), the gates of wisdom on high and the fountains of wisdom below will be opened and the world will be brought to tikkun, a state of restoration to be ushered in to the seventh millennium, that is, the coming of Moshiach and a world of good. The Rebbe points out in one of his discoursesl80 that "wisdom on high" refers to Torah, especially seminal Chassidic texts that were published around that time, and that "wisdom below" refers to science. Scientific discoveries from the years around 1840 C.E. include, but are not limited to: The wave theory of light, thermodynamics, the absolute temperature scale, electromagnetic induction, the conservation of energy, Maxwell's electromagnetic equations, organic chemistry, and molecular structure. Just as we can now look back and see how the Rebbe's life and teachings are the culmination and fulfillment of the lives and teach­ings of the previous Chassidic masters, so too, analogously, looking back 150-odd years, we see the origins of today's new, unifying ideas and methods in modern science and technology. With all the spiritualization of the sciences, one may wonder, why aren't all the professors and textbooks calling out, "G‑d is One!" or at least humbly acknowledging the validity of faith? The problem is inertia. The outdated materialistic worldview of the previous age is firmly lodged in the heart of the ivory tower and it doesn't want to move! The average scientist is spiritually numbed by the gross miscon­ception that science provides reasonable explanations for natural events and processes, thereby removing the need for any supernat­ural being. The Rebbe addresses this misconception directly in his letter on the proof for the existence of the Creator, published in his Hebrew volume, faith and science (page 7); "Of course I am not unaware that all this is governed according to the "laws of nature" - but I think it is important to emphasize that such expressions provide no explanation, but rather give a convenient summary or description of the existing situation, that is, that natural phenomena are conducted according to specific patterns. "But to say that a "law of nature" is an independent being in and of itself, and that this being rules over all of creation, and that there are thousands of such beings, according to the number of natural laws, is absolutely absurd. Moreover there is not one scientist in the field who would say so. Rather such laws are merely convenient, summary expressions for describing a situation, so that one should not be forced to duplicate at every turn a lengthy description of the "simple" facts. Nonetheless it is clear and obvious that such an expression provides no explanation whatsoever." Why do we need to know this basic limitation of science? In order that believers in science may also come to know that there is a ruling being. If they keep thinking about it they will come up with the same conclusions that Abraham did. Which is that there is only one primary being and this being is beyond time and space. They will then determine that this transcendent being is invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, and without form or body. Finally science will perceive that this being wants to be known by us, i.e., by such beings that are not beyond time and space, not invisible, not omni anything, and definitely not without form and body. When it is finally clear to human logic that this supernatural being creates and runs the world right now, and every detail of it, and wants us to know about him, there will then be generated an intel­lectually inspired love and fear. This in turn leads to ready acceptance to do His will and thereby improve the world. After all the main point is, as the Rebbe concludes in the above-quoted letter, "Action is the main thing".

FOOTNOTES

1 . Kafatos, Menas and R. Nadeau. 1990. The Conscious Universe: Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory. Springer-Verlag. New York. 2 . Davies, Paul. 1983. G‑d and the New Physics~ New Scientist vo1.98:1363 p.872-874. 3 . Einstein, Albert. 1950. The Meaning of Relativity. Princeton University Press, 3rd edition. 4 . Reichenbach, Hans. 1958. The Philosophy of Space and Time. Dover. 5 . Von Neumann. 1955. Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. Princeton University Press (translation) 6 . Wheeler, John A. 1992. Recent Thinking About the Nature of the Physical World: It From Bit. Ann. N. Y Acad. Sci. 655:349-363. 7 . Wigner, E. 1962. Remarks on the Mind-Body Question. in Science Speculates. I.J. Good, ed., Basic Books, NY. 8 . Most notably, eminent Nobel laureate, Eugene Wigner. See A. Rabinowitz, 1987, Free Will, in B'Or HaTorah 1987:141-157; and A. Rabinowitz and H. Branover, The Role of the Observer in Halakhah and Quantum Physics, Ch. 7 in Science in the Light of Torah, 1994, Aronson, NY. 9 . W. Penfield, 1975, The Mystery of the Mind. Princeton University Press, NJ; K.R. Popper and]. C. Eccles, 1977. The Self and Its Brain. Springer-Verlag, NY, pp.355-362; and R. Collinridge, 1994. Opening a Window on the Soul. New Scientist. Dec.l0/94:45 10 . In Sefer Yetsirah we find "Seven stones build 5040 houses" meaning that with seven letters one can form 7! = 7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = 5040 7-letter words. This is parallel to the same finite number of atomic elements generating countless types of molecules by combining in different ways. 11 . Proc. Chicago Symp. Macroevolution. 1980. Science 210883-887. Theor Bioi 7:412ff, and Spetner. 1968. Information Transmission in Evolution. IEEE Trans on Info Theory IT14(l):1-6, and Spetner. 1996. Not By Chance! Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution. Judaica Press. 272pp., and Tax, S. 1960. Evolution After Darwin, VI. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. For an overview and various angles on the issues see Carmell, Aryeh, and C. Domb, editors. 1976. Torah Views on Science and Its Problems. Feldheim. Spring Valley, NY. especially Part II. Creation and Evolution, which has over 160 pages of information in 11 chapters by various scientists with secular credentials, including the Lubavitcher Rebbe. 12 . See Karl Popper's books, Conjectures and Refutattons. 1963. Basic Books, NY, and The Logic of Scientific Discovery. 1968. Harper and Row, NY. His issue is basically that Darwin's theory is non-scientific because it cannot be critically evaluated experimentally using falsifiable hypotheses. 13 . F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe. 1982. Why Neo-Datwintsm Does Not Work. Cardiff Press. 34pp. 14 . L. Spetner. 1970. Natural Selection vs. Gene Uniqueness. Nature 226:948-949 15 . A. M. Hasofer. 1966. A Simplified Treatment of Spetner's Natural Selection Model. J Theor Bioi 11:338-342 16 . Goodwin, B. 1994. How the Leopard Changed Its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity. Scribner, NY. 17 . The fossil record is characterized by sudden appearance of types, minimal change through the rock strata, sudden disappearances, and lack of missing links. Darwin writes in the Origin, that the validity of his evolutionary theory would be seriously challenged by such fmdings. 18 . There are no confIrmed empirical reports of one species evolving from another through evolutionary processes. 19 . Eichoefer, Jerry. 1996. personal communication regarding his research published in Princeton Technical Reports entitled Mind Over Matter: Margins ofReaitty. 20 .Gleick, J. 1987. Chaos: The Making of a New Science. Viking, London. 21 . Kim, David and Arnie Gotfryd, 1997. Spiritually Indexed Articles Found in General Science Abstracts. Unpublished ms. 22 . K. Glanville and C. Heumann. 1998. Are Science and Religion Really Merging? Unpublished manuscript. 23 . To cite but a few recent articles: US News, June 16/97, The Geophysics of G‑d in which one of the world's foremost geologists empirically substantiates his belief in Creation and a young earth; New York Times, July 12/98, True Believers - Science and Religion Cross Their Line in the Sand, and June 30/98, Science and Religion - Bridging the Great Divide, which highlights Sir John Templeton'S megarnillion investments in religion/science dialogue; Newsweek July 20/98, Science Finds G‑d cover story; and dozens of dailies which picked up on Skorecki et al.'s 1997 article, Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests. Published in Nature Vol. 385, p.32, which substantiates Jewish Priestly claims to patrilineal descent from Moses' brother Aaron. 24Isaiah 11:9.

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