Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Miracle of the Sun


[our privileged planet]

Yesterday morning as I was walking to my synagogue, I felt the warmth of the sunlight falling on my face. It suddenly occurred to me how seldom I appreciate this miraculous gift from God.

Without the sun, obviously all life on earth would instantly die. The temperature of earth's surface would quickly go down to a few degrees above absolute zero, about 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

There is more to the story however. If the earth would be any closer to the sun or further from the sun, or if the sun were any hotter or colder, liquid water and therefore life would not exist on earth.

Furthermore, the earth's atmosphere contains a small amount of a gas called ozone. Ozone is vitally important to life because it absorbs biologically harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation coming from the sun. Without this God given shield, created by a process called the ozone-oxygen cycle, we would all be dead.

And there's more involved than that. The sun produces a solar wind, a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. The earth's magnetic field saves us from being killed by the solar wind. The magnetic field is caused by the special composition of earth's outer core. Mars, for example, does not presently have a global magnetic field. (The outer planets do have magnetic fields, however are lifeless for other reasons, such as low temperature.)

So when we enjoy the beautiful life giving light of the sun, we should be aware that this is the result of many fortunate factors: the existence of the sun, the size of the sun, the distance of the sun from the earth, the presence of the ozone layer and the magnetosphere. If anything was changed, we wouldn't be here to marvel at it.

We should remember all this every morning when we say the Yotzer ohr which states "the blessed God, great in understanding, prepared and brought about the rays of the sun". [emphasis mine]

38 comments:

Alex said...

Now THIS is the kind of post I think you should focus on, JP. This was great. I bet _you_ feel better about it, too.

I guess I could quibble about one thing -- I'm just trying to get you to be more precise about something. You wrote: "If the earth would be any closer to the sun or further from the sun, or if the sun were any hotter or colder, liquid water and therefore life would not exist on earth."

I assume you don't mean one micron or 0.2 degrees. However, you didn't say just _how_ much closer/farther or hotter/colder you mean. Perhaps the following link can quantify matters better: http://www.reasons.org/fine-tuning-life-universe-aug-2006
The link gives almost a hundred ways the universe is (or, at least, "appears") fine-tuned. It's sad that one can find lists like this a lot easier on Creationist websites than on Science websites.

Keep up the posts like this!

natschuster said...

If the number of electrons and protons wasn't the approximately the same, nuclear fusion wouldn't be possible. But electrons and protons are very different particles. There is no reason the numbers should be so close.

And the proton is about 10^37 times bigger than the electron, but it's electric charge is the same strength. That doesn't make any sense. But if the masses of eithere one were off by a little bit, or the charges were off by a little bit, then nuclear fusion, the sun and life couldn't happen.

jewish philosopher said...

Alex, I'm not giving up my Crusade and Inquisition so quickly! Life needs a little spice sometimes.

Alex said...

Poison can taste like spices sometimes.

jewish philosopher said...

I can only follow in the footsteps of the great King David:

Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee? And do not I strive with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with utmost hatred; I count them mine enemies.
Psalms 139:21-22

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt26d9.htm#21

Alex said...

You must explain why the Chazon Ish, who is from Lithuanian derech you claim to follow, said that you should try to draw them closer with _bonds of love_ and not to push them away. Did the Chazon Ish go off the derech?

jewish philosopher said...

The Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 2:16) said that today we should not kill heretics but rather we should attempt to persuade them in a friendly way to return to Judaism.

http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/04/27/who%E2%80%99s-not-a-heretic/

I'm not clear what exactly in practice the Chazon Ish meant by this.

Surely, the Chazon Ish did not intend to abolish completely the legal status of heretics in Talmudic law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy_in_Judaism#On_legal_status

Being an alumnus of the yeshiva which the Chazon Ish founded, Kollel Chazon Ish, I think I can safely say that an atheist Jew distributed atheistic literature there (which "Jewish skeptic" bloggers are doing on the Internet) would have been given a very hostile welcome. However, on the other hand, a member of the kollel might invite an atheist Jew to an inspirational Orthodox seminar such as Arachim

http://www.arachimusa.org/

and he might even teach such seminars. I think this is the Chazon Ish's intention.

In other words, rather than killing heretics, as the Talmud dictates, today the heretic should be given a second chance, he should be invited to inspiring lectures, however I have not seen proof that the Chazon Ish, or his followers, would go beyond that and they surely did not intend to confer any legitimacy on heretics.

Alex said...

"I think I can safely say that an atheist Jew distributed atheistic literature there (which "Jewish skeptic" bloggers are doing on the Internet) would have been given a very hostile welcome. However, on the other hand, a member of the kollel might invite an atheist Jew to an inspirational Orthodox seminar such as Arachim"

Of these two scenarios, the second one is the one that should be the model of your blog.

Abe said...

Some things never change ... like the sun rising tommorrow, almost 3000 years after your god was invented by superstitious folks like yourself, and about 4.5 billion years after our solar system was born.
And the sun will rise for the next few billion years, long after your simpleminded prattle is rendered as insentient as a moonrock.
Of course, god could reveal himself tommorrow and impeach atheism. But you know he won't ... which only proves he's as insentient as that moonrock and equaly as unremarkable and impotent.

Jeff said...

"however I have not seen proof that the Chazon Ish, or his followers, would go beyond that and they surely did not intend to confer any legitimacy on heretics."

This is a broad subject, relating to the halacha/hashkafa relating to secular Jews in general, which have various degrees of belief or lack thereof. Also, it relates to the Orthodox attitudes towards the non-orthodox movements such as Reform.

In the past, the orthodox establishment's reaction reflected a different reality than that which exists now. Sanctions and deligitimization don't work today. At the same time Orthodoxy is a confident minority that is not at risk of disappearing. (which was not the case during the enlightenment)

In my opinion the Talmudic/halachic statements on this subject reflect a world view withing a certain context (rather than an absolutist "commandment" from the Torah), which is subject to change, depending on the circumstances. We see this from the often contradictory statements about dealing with the problem in the Talmud itself as well as among the rishonim and achronim.

In short-- its complicated, JP, and I think that your last comment acknowledged that.

jewish philosopher said...

"the second one is the one that should be the model of your blog"

I provide links to many Jewish outreach organizations.

"almost 3000 years after your god was invented by superstitious folks like yourself"

Almost 6,000 years after idiots like you were born, who believed in nonsense likes idols or, more recently, evolution.

"god could reveal himself tommorrow and impeach atheism"

He someday will, in the Messianic era.

And many peoples shall go and say: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:3

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1002.htm#3

"which only proves he's as insentient as that moonrock"

Which proves that He is infinitely patient with fools.

"its complicated, JP, and I think that your last comment acknowledged that"

What's simple is that the commandment to love God

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0506.htm#5

implies a duty to hate those who hate Him. And atheists do hate God. The physicist Steven Weinberg said quite simply "I really don't like God."

http://www.scribd.com/doc/7800058/Atheism-Tapes-II

(see last page of transcript)

Then people naturally go on to deny an unpleasant (for them) reality.

natschuster said...

Abe:

Y'know, Newton said that G-d had to intervene every now and then to stabilize the solar system. Einstein showed that it wasn't necessary. The big problem now is explaining the origin of the solar system, ands its stability.

Alex said...

"I provide links to many Jewish outreach organizations."

In other words, you're saying, the exception proves the rule? While it's a good idea to provide these links, that _hardly_ counts as expressing bonds of love.

jewish philosopher said...

I think this is what the Chazon Ish had in mind. I personally knew the Steipler, who was the brother in law of the Chazon Ish. He refused to give blessings to secular Jews since he felt it was unethical to aide them to sin further. Bnei Brak people would hardly embrace the jewish drop out bloggers. If they want to attend an outreach seminar, fine, if not, get lost.

Alex said...

"He refused to give blessings to secular Jews since he felt it was unethical to aide them to sin further. "

Denying a positive is not the same as giving a negative. Sure, he refused to give blessings to some secular Jews. But did he speak about them in the way you do?

jewish philosopher said...

In this post

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/jewish-heretics.html

I quote from the bible, Talmud, prayerbook, etc. And I have explained the quote from the Chazon Ish. I don't see any problem with my blogging.

Larry Tanner said...

I love god, JP. I think he's a hoot! Best villain in fiction.

jewish philosopher said...

Larry, God loves you too. And He'll love roasting you in hell forever! Lol!

Alex said...

JP, do you ever feel like you're being taken advantage of? You realize that some people post here just to waste your time, to keep you from doing more good in the world. You shouldn't feel obliged to post everything people post.

jewish philosopher said...

That's why I moderate comments. You should see the nonsense I don't let through.

Mr. Cohen said...

Baruch Atah HASHEM, Yotzair HaMeorot.

See Tehillim chapter 136 verse 8 that G_d created the sun to rule by day, because His mercies are forever.

ספר תהילים פרק קלו
אֶת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת בַּיּוֹם כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

natschuster said...

Larry Tanner:

You blame G-d for the bad stuff. But I don't see you showing gratitude for all the good. For example, there is no reason why G-d created us so that we enjoy sunsets other than gratuitous goodness. I guess ingratitude is anothere atheist failing.

Jeff said...

Natschuster

OK, I am grateful that God gave us the Nazis.

Do you feel better?

Lets imagine you live in a poor Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, ruled by the Mafia. The Mafia routinely intimidates people, skims profits off of legitimate businesses, and operates illegal drug and prostitution rings. You are approached by one of the Mafia's foot soldiers, who kindly tells you that you live in a bad neighborhood, and it would be a shame if your house got burned down. He offers you protection from those scoundrels for a monthly "fee".

How much gratitude would you feel?

You are asking us to feel "gratitude" for god's protection from the evils which he himself created-- diseases, natural disasters and evil people. I can feel fortunate-- yes-- even grateful for the good people I have in my life. But grateful to a psychopathic god? Never.

JRKmommy said...

Thanks for the link to the cross-currents article. It's the most useful thing that you've posted.

Surely, winning back a heretic with the "bonds of love" involves more merely extending an invitation for a lecture? I'd would also agree with the Chazon Ish that displays of hatred today would only make things worse.

Since you have dedicated time to this cause, and since you must have contacts from your kollel in Bnei Brak, have you discussed your methods with anyone from there, or sought daas Torah from the Rosh Yeshiva?

jewish philosopher said...

"Surely, winning back a heretic with the "bonds of love" involves more merely extending an invitation for a lecture?"

Or delivering a lecture. I think that's probably about it.

"I'd would also agree with the Chazon Ish that displays of hatred today would only make things worse."

I think he was just opposed to assassination.

"Since you have dedicated time to this cause, and since you must have contacts from your kollel in Bnei Brak, have you discussed your methods with anyone from there, or sought daas Torah from the Rosh Yeshiva?"

They encouraged independent thinking.

Larry Tanner said...

natschuster,

I just want to correct one thing. I don't blame god for anything, actually, because the god you are referring to is a fictional character in a book.

I don't know that you've ever visited my blog, and I'm not looking for traffic, but I think I routinely display gratitude for the life I have and the people in it.

Be well.

Alex said...

Larry, how do you display gratitude for the life you have? (Your answer can't involve showing gratitude towards people, since you already put people in a second category.)

Alex said...

"They encouraged independent thinking."

Sure, but not at the expense of seeking daas Torah. I maintain that you _know_ that, and you are obfuscating.

jewish philosopher said...

"Sure, but not at the expense of seeking daas Torah. I maintain that you _know_ that, and you are obfuscating."

I'm not saying that this applies to every ignoramus, however a mature scholar should have the self confidence to make most decisions independently. This was how I was taught.

Jeff said...

I'm glad you consider yourself a "mature scholar".

I consider a scholar somebody who produces new knowledge through creative discovery and original research. Somebody who is an expert at quoting other people's opinions is not a scholar.

While it is true that a halachically knowledgeable person does not have to ask a rabbi about every little question, it would still be interesting to know if any mainstream ultraorthodox rabbis approve of your particular methods of spreading the Lord's word.

jewish philosopher said...

The main issue I believe any ultra orthodox rabbi would have with my blog is probably the fact that I allow non-orthodox people to comment. This is really controversial, however I have decided to allow this in the interest of demonstrating that I am not afraid of any questions and I'm not hiding anything. I have agonized and carefully weighed this decision, although I believe many rabbis would not be lenient about this. I may be the only ultra orthodox blog (and I am thinking of cross currents, ash.com, places like that) to allow these types of comments. 

My attacks on anti-orthodox bloggers I don't see as an issue at all. "Loving all Jews" certainly does not apply to such scoundrels. Obviously all patriotic Americans would condemn in the most extreme way an American who would convert to Islam and join a terrorist organization dedicated to attacking the United States. What idiot would argue that "he's still an American, he's a brother, he's one of us, we must love him"? Even the nuttiest liberal won't say that. Just the opposite; if a Saudi let's say wants to blow up New York, that's understandable, he was raised that way, it's his culture. But if John Doe, average American teenager, joins the Islamic jihad, that's far more despicable. Waving his American passport doesn't make it ok, it makes it worse.

Larry Tanner said...

Alex,

I display gratitude for the life I have by acknowledging that I feel grateful. I reflect on what in my life makes me feel this way and why. I try to show that I am indeed enjoying being a live and being with my family in the here and now.

Does this answer your question?

If you have more questions, please don't post them here. Some time ago I realized that this blog offered little of value. I returned to find it's still the same. I have no interest in participating here.

natschuster said...

Larry:

To whom do yuo display gratitude? Anyway, why di humans enjoy sunsets? Did wew evolve tht way. What purpose does it serve? IMHO, it is an example of G-ds goodness.
What's your explanation.

natschuster said...

Larry Tanner:

You seem to besaying that you are showing gratitude to yourself. That seems like the height of narcissim to me.

Jeff said...

Natschuster

What does it matter? Why is it important to understand the psychological roots of Larry's gratitude? It's truly an irrelevant and dumb argument.

Alex said...

I think in fact he acknowledges that he feels happy. Not grateful.

David said...

Ironic, that the title "Miracle of the Sun" instantly made me think you were talking about this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_sun

Which, of course, is either a proof that Christianity is true (I think not), or another example of how many many people can be under a mistaken impression of having witnessed a miracle.

jewish philosopher said...

My take on that is that probably people make all sorts of crazy predictions all the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_end_times_prediction

In this particular case, three shepherds predicted that the Blessed Virgin Mary would appear in the Cova da Iria fields at noon 13 October 1917. In fact, by coincidence, in this instance the sun did appear to have careened towards the earth in a zigzag pattern at that time and place, perhaps due to some unusual atmospheric activity. No conspiracy needed. No Blessed Virgin Mary appearing either by the way.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun