Friday, February 20, 2009

Why God Created Earlier Worlds

[What was the point?]

In the 18th century, scientists began studying fossils more intensively. In 1841 three primary layers were identified by geologist John Phillips. One layer, the Paleozoic, consists primarily of extinct shellfish such as trilobites and plants such as ferns. The Mesozoic includes huge extinct reptiles, the dinosaurs. The Cenozoic includes an abundance of mammals, many huge and now extinct such as the mammoths, and flowering plants. All paleontologists since 1841 have confirmed the existence of these primary layers. Rabbi Yisrael Lipschitz, the rabbi of Danzig, Germany gave a speech in April, 1842 (published as Derush Ohr HaChayyim, found in the back pages of the Tiferes Yisrael Mishnayot Nezikin volume 1) regarding the fossils. He explains these findings based on Midrash Rabbah Breishis 3:7 which states that many other worlds were created and destroyed previously to this one. Rabbi Lipschitz wrote that the fossils were remnants of those worlds.

One question, which may be asked, is, what was the purpose of these earlier worlds that have since become extinct? Why did God create them merely to later destroy them?

I would speculate that the answer might be as follows.

Scientists have today discovered that these earlier eras created treasures which we enjoy today.

About 60% of the minerals on earth were created by life. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere was created by living things. Most of our electricity is generated by coal, coal that was created by extinct plants. Our vehicles are powered by gasoline and our homes are heated by natural gas. These fuels were created by ancient marine life.

It would therefore seem to be clear that these earlier eras of life on earth were all part of God’s wonderful plan to prepare the earth for us. Thank God for the trilobites and dinosaurs!

41 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...

If God created earlier worlds with dinosaurs and the like, then what are the fossils doing here in this world?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

Nothing.

BrooklynWolf said...

Apparently I wasn't clear in my question. My apologies. Let me try again.

If, as the TY posited, the fossils are the remnants of creatures who lived on other worlds that HKBH created and destroyed prior to this world, then why weren't the fossils destroyed when the worlds were destroyed.

IOW, why was all phyiscal evidence of the previous worlds destroyed except for fossils which were dug into the ground of this world?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

The Messianic Age is sometimes called the Next World http://www.jewfaq.org/moshiach.htm#Age, even though it will be happening on this planet.

BrooklynWolf said...

But what does that mean? How does that answer my question?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

In other words, in rabbinical literature, "olam" can apparently mean "era" not "planet".

BrooklynWolf said...

Ah. So, is it your opinion then that the earth upon which we live is, in fact, older than 6000 years?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently.

BrooklynWolf said...

Okay, thanks. I appreciate your candor. You're aware, of course, that some people (certainly not I) would call you a kofer, a heretic, for espousing such a view.

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

Who? (Keep in mind that I do not believe we are descended from monkeys.)

BrooklynWolf said...

I understand your position and I made my statement independent of your views on evolution. There are, nonetheless, authorities who would view you as a heretic simply for believing that the world (and universe) has existed for more than 5769 years (and a few months, etc.)

I don't have a list handy, but I will attempt to provide some people who maintain that belief in the next few days.

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

OK.

jewish philosopher said...

Incidentally, the Jewish Observer, May 2006 page 18, mentions as a legitimate possibility that the world is much more than 6,000 years old, based upon this midrash.

DrJ said...

If you can believe a midrash that clearly goes against the plain meaning of the biblical creation text, why do you have such a big theological problem with evolution as a mechanism? If the rabbis didn't know about evolution, just as they didn't know about lots of things in science, so what? Call it intelligent design if you want.

Anonymous said...

According to this article:


http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/323/5915/732


There isn't a whole lot of evidence for adaptive radiation. It seems that the empirical evidence fits the midrashim nicely.

jewish philosopher said...

The problem with evolution is very simple. The Torah states that man was created from earth. Darwin said man was created from monkeys. They can't both be true.

Anonymous said...

Please pardon my going off topic, but this is interestng.

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S22/60/95O56/index.xml?section=topstories

Researches at Princetn have discovered that mitochondrial proteins have a mechanism that keeps them functioning at an optimal level. This mechanism cannot be the result of a random process.

DrJ said...

I don't get it.

The Torah says very clearly that God made the earth 6000 years ago, but you are able to overlook that using a rabbinic statement, allowing you to creatively reconcile with scientific evidence.

So the Torah says that all living beings were created from the earth. So what? From an etiological perspective, this isn't that far from reality-- all of life's building blocks came from the earth. So evolution explains how species differentiated. Thats intelligent design theory. I'm not a proponent of that, but I don't understand your inconsistency in being "literalist" in some issues, and creatively interpretive in others.

The rabbis in the midrashic period had no idea that there were fossils, but perhaps if they had, they would have written a midrash about species morphing into one another.

jewish philosopher said...

"The Torah says very clearly that God made the earth 6000 years ago"

The Torah says very clearly that God made our first original universal ancestor 6000 years ago. In the Jewish calendar, New Year year 0 was the date of Adam's creation. No evolutionist would agree with that.

"The rabbis in the midrashic period had no idea that there were fossils"

That's probably not true http://www.amazon.com/First-Fossil-Hunters-Paleontology-Times/dp/0691089779

DrJ said...

"The Torah says very clearly that God made our first original universal ancestor 6000 years ago. In the Jewish calendar, New Year year 0 was the date of Adam's creation"

Read the Bible. The Torah says very clearly that earth, sun, moon, and all life forms were created those first seven days, 6000 years ago. How could fossils "of previous worlds" predate that? So if you admit that the earth is millions of years old, despite biblical claims, there's no jump required to admit that life is older than 6000 years. You could write a midrash that there were previous "men" as well who were destroyed, and that's not that far from the truth either.

Regarding rabbinic awareness of fossils, thats entirely speculation- they certainly make no mention of it anywhere, in the volumes of talmudic aggadah. You could suggest that they also know about DNA, and they just didn't mention it...

jewish philosopher said...

The six thousand year thing is based on calculations beginning from Adam's creation - Adam lived so many years, his child lived so many years, etc. The first thirty four verses of the Torah are open to many interpretations, as I point out elsewhere. http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

I don't think that the rabbis considered the fossils to be of any practical relevance. Gentiles created all sorts of fantastic myths based upon them, a tradition which continues today with Darwinian evolution.

DrJ said...

I don't understand your inconsistency. Verses 24-31 speak of the creation of man and beasts on day 6. Is this 6 "cosmic" days (millions of years) or literally 6 days? Did he create mammoths when he created man?? If you are willing to be creative in the first creation story, why not the second? Why couldn't man have been created on "friday" millions of years ago?

I think that many peoples' problem with evolution is that they glibly oversimplify it by saying that it means "man came from monkeys", as though that is a somehow demeaning, more so than saying that man came from the dirt.

jewish philosopher said...

The main problem with evolution is not the time, it's the process. The Torah says very clearly that God made our first original universal ancestor 6000 years ago. Either the Torah is false or Darwin is false.

DrJ said...

I suspect that creationists have had to integrate the irrefutable evidence of fossils, by creatively reinterpreting these verses, and they can and will continue to do so as the irrefutable evidence for evolution continues to mount. They will always find a way to reconcile-- so that both the Bible will be true and so can Darwin.

Your "integrity" of insisting that the two are irreconcilable, is the same as what biblical literalists thought before fossils and archeology devoloped 200 years ago, then they had to find a way to make the bible/Torah consistent with it. Ditto for other areas of science, such as cell biology, genetics, cosmology, medicine, etc. We found a way to interpret the torah so it doesn't contradict heliocentrism, but that took a long time, until which nobody would consider the two compatible.

The same is happening with evolution.

Your are probably among the few remaining holdouts.

jewish philosopher said...

I think you're confusing Christianity with Judaism. I don't believe that Jews ever considered a young earth or a central earth to be religious dogma.

DrJ said...

Nor do most Jews consider non-evolution to be religious dogma.

alex said...

"Most of our electricity is generated by coal, coal that was created by extinct plants. Our vehicles are powered by gasoline and our homes are heated by natural gas. These fuels were created by ancient marine life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum#Formation"

It's *possible* that this is incorrect. Keeping in mind wiki's biases, you may wish to check out that very wiki site you linked to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum#Abiogenic_origin

alex said...

You may wish to not post this one, but there are indeed great Jews who held that believing in a millions-of-years-old earth would make one a heretic:
http://zootorah.com/controversy/RavSternbuchEnglish.pdf
And for the Hebrew:
http://zootorah.com/controversy/RavSternbuchHebrew.pdf

jewish philosopher said...

"Nor do most Jews consider non-evolution to be religious dogma."

Most observant Jews do.

DrJ said...

I guess it depends on who you hang out with....

jewish philosopher said...

"there are indeed great Jews who held that believing in a millions-of-years-old earth would make one a heretic"

I think Rabbi Sternbuch was writing against Nosson Slifkin; I don't believe that he was referring in this document to someone like Rabbi Yisrael Lipschitz. In other words, he is adamantly opposed to Darwinian evolution, as I am as well.

alex said...

I was simply addressing your words to The Wolf. The conversation went like this:

The Wolf: So, is it your opinion then that the earth upon which we live is, in fact, older than 6000 years?

JP: Apparently.

The Wolf: You're aware, of course, that some people (certainly not I) would call you a kofer, a heretic, for espousing such a view.

JP: Who?

RaspK said...

So God created other life so it could die, with the sole purpose of humanity harvesting such goods.

As opposed, say, to God putting those goods on Earth in the first place... In other words, let us go about with mental gymnastics, and hereby present a deific figure that has no better business apparently than create life whose sole purpose is to die.

And you call that philosophy!?

jewish philosopher said...

Perhaps this helps us to have more appreciation for all these treasures.

alex said...

RaspK, do you mind if I change some words you wrote? I'm just changing them to reflect the idea that you yourself wrote.

"In other words, let us go about with mental gymnastics, and hereby present a deific figure that has no better business apparently than create life whose sole purpose is to *serve mankind*."

Anonymous said...

Now I know why most Jews never take orthodoxy seriously. Because of ignorant assholes like yourself.

jewish philosopher said...

I just wish I knew what someone who writes comments like that looks like. Why do I keep thinking obese, alcoholic, unkempt, pot head...

DrJ said...

Truth or no truth, you must admit that it is pretty weak philosophy, to resort to these convoluted explanations for physical evidence, rather than using the scientific process for understanding them.

For example, using your logic, when trying to understand the origin and nature of a flu virus, I can use scientific reasoning to analyse it from an evolutionary and biologic perspective, or, as you do, just say that God created it (which day??) here to torment us (or to keep us occupied in trying to defeat it). Which philosophy is more coherent?

BTW, this is a big weakness of your watchmaker argument, as your watchmaker apparently also made some really nasty things that apparently don't serve man so well, and no man has the possibility of knowing what possible benefit they have (except via scientific reasoning!!) The appeal of the watchmaker argument stems from our a priori recognition of a purposeful complex entity. Here the purposeful part is absent. The virus exists to exist, period. It may live in symbiosis or competition with other "organisms", but it serves no grand purpose.

jewish philosopher said...

"you must admit that it is pretty weak philosophy, to resort to these convoluted explanations for physical evidence"
I think the beliefs of Louis Agassiz best fit the evidence. http://www.counterbalance.net/history/agassiz-frame.html

"when trying to understand the origin and nature of a flu virus, I can use scientific reasoning to analyse it from an evolutionary and biologic perspective"
And you conclude "evolution created it". Why? On what day?

"your watchmaker apparently also made some really nasty things that apparently don't serve man so well"
A single watch proves that a watchmaker exists. Likewise, a single natural object demonstrating complexity and purposefulness (let's say my left eye) demonstrates that a God exists.

RaspK said...

Louis Agassiz's beliefs fit what evidence?

While not a fraud, some ideas of his were simply preposterous, and the gaps he proposed have long since been filled to the brim!

As for your petulant question: "On what day?" that's a fine display of bias... How about the billions of different microorganisms that exist, some of which can cause us truly horrible deaths, and which the human body cannot fight back?

As for your example regarding what appears to have a design: if a man rolls a die a million times, the exact sequence of his individual die rolls is not any less likely than rolling a billion aces... Yet you think that the latter is some event of purposefulness, obviously.

No, this is not philosophy you go about and spout, but puerile nonsense!

jewish philosopher said...

"Louis Agassiz's beliefs fit what evidence?"

Fossils.

"How about the billions of different microorganisms that exist, some of which can cause us truly horrible deaths, and which the human body cannot fight back?"

God created them.

"As for your example regarding what appears to have a design: if a man rolls a die a million times, the exact sequence of his individual die rolls is not any less likely than rolling a billion aces... Yet you think that the latter is some event of purposefulness, obviously."

If you won a lottery a few times in a row you would not be paid the winnings; you would be arrested. The results would clearly demonstrate purposefulness (meaning fraud) not chance.