Monday, April 18, 2005

Do I Worship the God of Science ?

Some people have criticized me saying that I worship the 'God of Science'. Well Science is certainly amazing, so lets think about this question for a few minutes.

Nothing in the field of human endeavor has had the same impact as Science, and it seems likely that nothing ever will. If you really stop to think about it, the level of success in the Scientific endeavor has been absolutely amazing. No other human endeavor has been so phenomenally successful in achieving its goals. We take so much of it for granted that we don't even realize just how incredible it all is.

Some people like to quote the saying "hafoch boh dkuloh boh" (everything is in the Torah) to show how Science is in the Torah. However, this phenomenal Scientific success did not come from the Gedolim learning Torah. It came from Scientists following their (non Torahdick) process.

Clearly, when "Hafoch boh" was said, Science in its current form did not exist. Nor did anything like it. Should we really take this phrase literally ? Of course not. In ancient times, Tenach was quite a good repository of 'wisdom', as the ancients defined it. Of course, some truths are eternal, and so the Torah's views on life, religion, morality etc are as good today as they ever were. However, when it comes to Science, there's nothing in there. Nothing. Hafoch Boh cannot possibly apply.

We should be incredibly grateful to the Scientists, and we should show the appropriate hakoras hatov. With all due respect, the Gedolim didn't find out the cures for cancer, the Scientists did. Slandering Scientists when they find something which appears to contradict some fundamentalists viewpoint is the height of ingratitude and bad middos. Would we prefer to live without modern technology ? Without modern medicine ? Without modern travel ? (Actually yes to the last one but that's different !)

The incredible chochmah of Science is not really due to the Scientists though. They are simply reporting what they see, and trying to figure it out, slowly and painfully, one step at a time. But we realize that the true chochmah comes from somewhere else. This was stated 2500 years ago, in another well known phrase, which I do take literally. That phrase is "Moh Rabu Maasechoh Hashem, Kulom Bechochmoh Asisa."

Rav Herzog had this to say about Science:

It is unfortunate that while science is progressively conquering worlds and discovering all sorts of secrets, although it too errs at times, we like ostriches bury our heads in sand. It is imperative that we encourage the ablest students of the yeshivot also to be educated as men of science in each discipline, so that we should not need to turn to others in matters of physiology, chemistry, electricity, etc. concerning things that relate to our sacred Torah. ...

So do I worship the God of Science ?

Absolutely. Three times a day, four times on the weekend.

Don't you ?