The Big Bang and the Torah

While this isn’t about Orthodox Christianity, of course, it’s worth noting for the several potential parallels here, after you get over the fascinating discovery that Mayim Bialik of NBC’s “Blossom” is not only a highly observant Orthodox Jew but also has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. (She is apparently also now in some new television show… something about a large banging?)

The Orthodox Church has of course never put forward a conciliar decree on whether one ought to take what is written in the Genesis creation accounts literally (whether partially or completely), but there at least seems to be a permissible variety of views on whether one should do so. It’s also worth noting here that very briefly hinted at is the Jewish notion of the “oral Torah” given by God at Sinai which eventually gets codified as the Talmud and serves to interpret the written Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), which is like the Orthodox Christian function of Holy Tradition, which not only interprets the Scripture but includes it as part of its content.

The hat tip goes to my wife for pointing this out to me. Thanks!

12 comments:

  1. As a cognitive scientist and an Orthodox Christian, I really appreciated this post! I am a big fan of Mayim Bialik. To anyone else who is a fan and likes to follow her career, she was also the object of change in an edition of “What Not To Wear.”

  2. I posted too soon. I wanted to clarify that what I really liked about this blog entry is that is addresses the fact that believers in the God of Abraham do not have to be afraid of science. Personally, I am encouraged as a linguist (the particular area of cognitive science that I pursue) by the Biblical assertion: “In the beginning was the Word.” I understand that Jesus Christ is the Word of God. However, I study the word in humans. And what I continue to marvel at is the fact that no matter how good science has come at being able to fine tune the differences & similarities in cognition between humans and non-human primates or indeed between humans and birds (who have songs) and cetaceans such as dolphins and whales, the capacity for language is what sets humans apart. That is, human language has certain utterly unique characteristics. All of creation can communicate, but only humans have a creative capacity to combine symbols in an infinite number of possible patterns to express novel thoughts. Even bird and whale song lack this creative capacity we find in human language.

  3. “The Orthodox Church has of course never put forward a conciliar decree on whether one ought to take what is written in the Genesis creation accounts literally (whether partially or completely), but there at least seems to be a permissible variety of views on whether one should do so.”

    “And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).
    As Dr. Morris states at: http://www.icr.org/article/2107/
    “One may decide to believe the evolutionary geologists if he wishes, instead of God, but he should at least let God speak for Himself. God says the days of creation were literal days, not ages. “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth” (Exodus 31:17).”

    Maybe it is time that the Orthodox Church should put forward a conciliar decree that what is written in the Genesis creation accounts shall be taken literally.

    1. Forgive me, but the post you link to is based on rather misleading assertions and arguments. First, there is subterfuge with the credentials of the author: “Henry Morris, PhD”. He is a PhD, but not in theology or a related discipline or a discipline relevant to the subject matter such as biology. He had a PhD in engineering. Second, and far more important, for Orthodox, the light that came into the world on the first day is Christ. Not the sun. The sun was clearly created on the fourth day: Genesis 1:16. Moreover, time appears to be introduced on the fourth day: “And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, (Genesis 1:14)” Finally, if someone such as Morris is going to make an argument based on the meaning of words, they have to examine the actual meaning of words in an historical context. For example, the word we translate as “star,” for the ancient Greeks meant something different than it means to us. Ancient Greeks believed that stars were holes in the sky. The point here is that a word does not have a concept fixed for all time that we can identify simply by inspecting the word.

    2. Morris wrote in The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (1972) that the craters of the moon were caused by a cosmic battle between the forces of Satan and the armies of the archangel Michael.

      Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (San Diego, CA: Creation Life Publishers, 1972 and 1978), pp. 61-62.

  4. Be careful. When they say “Torah” they don’t necessarily speak of the OT, but of the Torah SheBeal Peh, which is the Mishna and Gemara. The ladies in the video don’t specify to which they refer.

  5. <>

    — That is about all that is similar. The Talmud arises out of the oral tradition of the elders (the Mishnah) that our Lord severely condemns (see: Mark 7:1-13). The Lord says of this tradition, which became the Talmud: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Therefore, the comparison is poor and misleading, at best. Even worse than this, after our Lord’s resurrection and ascension and the spread of the Apostolic Church, outright blasphemy and crude, barbaric slandering of Christ and His mother made its way into the Talmud. I will not repeat them.

    It behooves Orthodox Christians to know much more about Judaism and what such Jewish apologists are referring to before they begin to post their comments on Orthodox Christian sites.

    1. And one can just as easily find ridiculous anti-Semitic comments and thought coming from the Orthodox Church; but just as we ought to condemn what is wrong without rejecting the good and holy teachings in the Church, we should do the same with respect to the Jewish tradition.

  6. I’m always amused by the “Biblical account” having to fit into the “scientific framework” rather than the “scientific account” fitting into the “Biblical framework.”

    Other than that, she (as well as others) have suggested that “days” didn’t start until the 4th day when the sun was created…so just how long did the vegetation that was created on the the 3rd ‘day’ live and grow and flourish until the next ‘real’ day when the sun was created? Over many long, slow “years”?

    Nice try, but I think she’s being loose and sloppy with her science.

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