Friday, November 18, 2011

Are the Fossils a Diabolical Trick?

[not really bones?]

Recently I took my family on a trip to the American Museum of Natural History. The dinosaur exhibits are amazing, however they do raise a question: from the point of view of Judaism, when did they live or did they indeed live at all?

The most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote that we can readily accept the possibility that God created 6,000 years ago fossils, bones or skeletons (for reasons best known to Him), and this explains the existence of fossils.  

In other words, the trilobite, dinosaur and mammoth fossils were never parts of actual animals but are rather natural formations created by God.

Some very conservative Christians have believed that the dinosaur bones were planted by God to test our faith.  

I personally have difficulty accepting this.  Isaiah 43:7 wrote "Every one that is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, I have formed him, yea, I have made him." I think that this implies that there is some positive purpose in everything God has created; it is all for His glory. It seems impossible to imagine a positive purpose in creating rocks which look like bones. Furthermore, the fossil strata, many of which include only extinct plants and animals and which therefore give an impression that other different ecological systems existed before the present one, have misled many people to believe that the Torah is false. It seems inconceivable that God would create anything solely for the negative purpose of testing and deceiving people.

It therefore seems to me more reasonable to suggest that the fossils are exactly what they appear to be - remnants of earlier worlds. These earlier worlds may well have existed to prepare the earth for our present existence.


Ironmistress said...

Let's say I have both bad and good news for the Young Earth Creationists.

The bad news is that Creationism is bullshit. Bravo Sierra. Hogwash. Narrischheit. Tomfoolery. The universe simply did not get its beginnings as described in the Genesis. The universe is over 15 billion years old, Earth is 4.5 billion years old and evolution is one of the strongest paradigms there are. Darwin's findings and postulates are basically valid.

The good news is that evolution does not exclude intelligent design or initiation and that the 6,000 years - the age of world according to Genesis - is quite exactly the age of human civilization. The first orderly societies were founded some 4,000 years ago.

World wasn't created 4004 BC (Solar calendar) nor 5,772 years ago (Lunar calendar). But human civilization and organized societies were. The earliest vestiges of human civilization are of those ages.

There is a possiblilty that The Flood is a historical occurrence. The Burckle Crater in the Indian ocean has been dated to 2807 BC and it is an asteroid impact crater. Such impact would create a megatsunami preceeded with immense rainfall from vaporized seawater, and the collective memory of all littoral nations tell about the gigantic flood.

If I am to be asked, this whole universe is like an immense ZIP packet designed to expand on itself and create intelligent life. The initial parameters, laws of nature and physical constants appear like have been adjusted and set to evolve into intelligent life.

Anonymous said...

Remnants of earlier worlds: check.
Noah's ark: check.
Talking, evil serpent: check.
Talking donkey: check.
Sun apparently stops: check.
Creation of the world in six days: check.
Satan, angels: check.
Messiah: check.

Life evolves: no way.
Multiverses: couldn't be.

Ironmistress said...

According to some Christian wisecrackers, the age of the world will be 7,000 years.

Why? Because world was created in six days plus one resting day, and one day is for God like thousand years and vice versa (Psalm 90). The first 2000 years were age of Chaos, the next 2000 years were age of Law and the past 2000 years have been age of Messiah. The Second Coming is near, and the Thousand Year Domain - the Sabbath of Humanity - will begin soon. [Year 2012 will denote the bar mitzva of Messiah.]

When? It is easy to answer. Lou Famoso got an answer on his near-death experience: Look at the constellation Orion. Betelgeuze, the main star of Orion, is about to go supernova. You do the math...

[Believe whoever will.]

jewish philosopher said...

I have my own interpretation of Genesis and the Deluge

And one cannot accept the Bible and evolution any more than can accept the Bible and Greek creation myths.

Ironmistress said...

JP, how about the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala?

Another myth of birth of the world: world has been created from seven waterfowl eggs - allusion of seven days of creation?

Alex said...

"It seems impossible to imagine a positive purpose in creating rocks which look like bones."

That, and mosquitos.

jewish philosopher said...

Well mosquitos keep inside at night where they can learn Torah.

Rabbi Seinfeld said...

They're not rocks, they are real bones. And they can be both 5770 years old AND millions of years old.


If one posits that the world was created by a willful Creator for the teleological purpose of humankind's emergence and eventual enlightenment;

And if one posits that the Creator desired for whatever reason to have the world operate according to specific physics (laws of nature);

It is not a far stretch to imagine the Creator could have (and would have) skipped the preliminaries prior to humanity's self-consciousness and did the actual creation at the point of that emergence; however, the world that was created was as it would appear had the Creator gone through the motions of the Big Bang and evolution etc.

Consider an artist's painting. Consider the Mona Lisa. How old is the subject? Let's say 19. Did she have a childhood? Where is it in the painting? The fact that she is 19 implies a past. We could even examine her features and reconstruct her past. We could look at the angle of the lighting in the scenery and determine the geographic location and time of day. But isn't it all fiction? The axiom of a Creator means that the entire world is a fiction, a work of art. The Artist painted it as a very old world, but the painting itself was done in our timeframe 5772 years ago.

Hence both are true in their own ways, the laws of physics are true, and Torah can be true without being mutually exclusive.

Joseph said...

According to the SF novel Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon, the Creator made a series of universes before the Ultimate Cosmos. Also, according to Star Maker, this universe is not the ultimate cosmos.

אלי said...

Hey JP, I recently stumbled upon your blog when, seeing all the bullshit circulating (such as atheism), I decided to search for "Jewish philosophy" on Google. And man, am I glad I found this one very interesting blog of yours.

However, I wanted to ask a question about this topic. From the information that you've presented regarding this Issue, are you saying the Humans were definitely created 6,000 years ago but things such as grass could have (and probably were) present before then?

Also, another unrelated question regarding another post of yours I read. Are you saying that "Modern Orthodox" Jews believe in evolution?! and that the "Modern Orthodox" movement is a step to atheism?! this is all very strange to me, since, being around many "Modern Orthodox" Jews, who pray 3 times a day, and try to observe both the Scriptural and Rabbinical law as much as possible, I have never seen anyone of them EVER even remotely consider that evolution might actually be valid.

I would just like to thank you for the great information,time, and effort you put into this blog, and I would very much appreciate it if you would continue blogging :) (not like you were going to stop or something LOL)

Also, sorry if my English is a bit weak or awkward, because me originally being from Israel, Hebrew is my first Language and not English.

jewish philosopher said...

"From the information that you've presented regarding this Issue, are you saying the Humans were definitely created 6,000 years ago but things such as grass could have (and probably were) present before then?"

Basically, yes. I've written about that here.

"Are you saying that "Modern Orthodox" Jews believe in evolution?!"

I think so, yes.

אלי said...

To me, it seems like that link just means that Evolution, simply in its nature, does not contradict Judaism, not that most Modern Orthodox Jews believe in Evolution. Why would you say Evolution contradicts Judaism, JP?

jewish philosopher said...

Basically, for the same reason that Greek creation mythes contradict the Torah

It's a completely different concept. They can't be both true.

Yirmiahu said...

The fact that there is not an easy way to explain the purpose of, say, a fossil doesn't mean that their isn't a reason.

The entire material world is designed for two very different purposes, to conceal God and to reveal Him. We cannot "observe" God, which allows for free will, but we can see the marvel of His world and know that the world has a Manhig (see Breishis Rabba 39:1).

God has revealed in His Torah that He created the world from nothing. Inherent in a "fully formed" creation out of nothing is apparent prior age.

I see no real difficulty in suggesting that insofar as God runs the world through natural laws that He coordinated such apparent age with those natural laws. Those laws of nature reflect God's will of how the world operates in its normal course, but also afford the individual the "free will" to convince him/herself that all there is is the material world to be concerned with.

We do not need to try to manipulate or contort the material/scientific data to conform to our beliefs. The laws of Nature have their place and we need to understand them on their own terms. Meanwhile we are expected to believe that their is a Creator who is above creation and He has given His testimony on how He preformed Creation. While there is precedent for allegorical interpretation, this is universally frowned upon/restricted by the authorities who allow it and should not be done unless there isn't another option. In this case there is.