Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Do Scientists Know?

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
There has been some dispute about whether the brilliant Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan actually believed in an ancient universe even as he made an argument in favor of it using science, and sources in Chazal, Kabbalah, Rishonim and Achronim. I believe that it is clear that he not only beleived it - but ridiculed those who dispute it. (He even made a veiled reference to the Theory of Evolution - ridiculing those who dismiss scientific evidence of that!)

Marty Bluke has taken the trouble to post in the comment section of the post dealing with this subject - excerpts of  
Rabbi Kaplan's address to the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists on February 18, 1979. This is an important excerpt because it shows a widely respected and much published Charedi Rabbi respecting the validity of scientific inquiry and the conclusions drawn therefrom.  I don't want this excerpt to be buried in what is to date 534 comments to the post. I am republishing it here for maximum exposure. His view on this subject echos mine. It follows.
Another approach is that which many Chassidim have. They say, “What do scientists know? Do they know what’s happening? Do they know what’s going on? They’re a bunch of phonies, a bunch of bluffers, a bunch of stupidniks! Do they really have a way of finding out the truth? They find a bone and they think it’s from a monkey.” But, I think to somebody who knows what science is, this is a very unsatisfactory approach. We have some idea of what is involved in paleontology. We have some idea what is involved in geology and in radioactive dating. We have some idea of what is involved in astronomy. We can casually speak about a star being a million light years away, and we do not stop to think, “Well, that’s a bit too much!” So I would say that if someone feels that science is ignorant and false, all well and good. Many people refer not to accept science as a worthy challenge. But I think that for many of us here, such an approach would be totally unsatisfying.