Monday, May 18, 2009

Does Evolution Prove Anything about G-d? Why the Creationists Do G-d a Disservice.

Math, Physics, G-d, and Evolution v. the Creationists.

Creationists would have you believe that the Rambam (Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or the acronym the Rambam, born Cordoba, Spain March 30, 1135 died Egypt December 13, 1204.), the greatest Jewish rationalist of his time, was an idiot, and that the Book of Power by the Maharal of Prague (Judah Loew ben Bezalel (c. 1520 – 17 September 1609), also known as Yehudah ben Bezalel Levai [or Loewe, Löwe],) one of many late midevil Kabbalists, had no effect. They want you to think that a Roman Catholic monk named Joseph Mendel and an Anglican Preacher named Charles Darwin were atheists. Creationists, in other words, are either idiots or liars... or both. It disturbs me when I hear or read about Jews who are rejecting science, an action anathema to solid Jewish thought. And I think I can prove it.

Let's start with something we are all familiar with. Lotteries. We know that the numbers are picked at random, and that the chances of any particular set of numbers coming up are very, very small. One in 18 million. One in 180 million. Does that mean that it is a very rare or even unheard of event for somebody to win a lottery? To the contrary, this is an event that happens every week somewhere. How is that possible? Well, the game is set up so that there are a limited number of outcomes, and there are enough tickets sold over time that, sooner or later, somebody wins. And there are hundreds of games.

Modern Physics tells us that the universe would be very different if any of the fundamental forces were even very slightly different. Matter would have flung apart so fast that galaxies, stars, and planets would never have formed... or it would have fallen back onto itself so that, likewise, we could not have happened. Or sub-atomic particles would be unstable. Or atoms would not have formed in exactly the ratio needed to form billions of galaxies, around which there were billions of very large stars which blew up and seeded the universe with the exact mixture of heavy elements needed for life as we know it... then a new generation of stars formed with these heavy elements forming planets with carbon, oxygen, nitrogen... OR these elements would not have formed. But in fact, all that happened. Billions of galaxies, each of which holds billions of stars, around which, it now appears, there could be an average of numerous planets. Maybe four. Maybe fourteen. Maybe it depends on how you define the word planet... just ask Pluto.

The odds that we would happen on any given planet, given the randomness proposed in evolution, is very remote. But the odds that we would have happened SOMEWHERE EVENTUALLY in the universe, given its size and the huge number of chances, would make it, like SOMEBODY eventually winning the lottery, almost inevitable.

The universe is formulated in a way that we pretty much had to happen. Some think there may even be an 'us' within most of the billions of galaxies. Now, there are problems with our current theory of physics. Either we have gravity wrong, which seems to be the most likely explanation, or there appears to be plenty of dark matter and dark energy about which we know little or nothing. Clarity on what it is that is wrong with our understanding of the universe might effect this. This formulation is called the anthropic principle. Some dislike it, and have formulated unprovable mathematical theories to make an infinite number of universes, so that our very special one's existence shows nothing philosophically. But these are mathematical or philosophical theories, not scientific ones. They are atheistic numerology. Not only are they unproven... they are unprovable. There is no result of any scientific test anyone could run which could prove or disprove these theories, so they cannot be proven wrong... or right.

So, does evolution bear on the existence or nonexistence of a divine being? I would suggest that it does not. If it does, however, one must take a step back, and view not just this tiny part of creation, but all of what we can see, tens of billions of light years in every direction, hundreds of billions of galaxies with quintillions of stars and sextillions of planets. Given the limitations of physics, the Theory of Evolution suggests that our occurrence somewhere in this Universe, was like somebody, somewhere eventually winning some lottery... almost a certainty.

The Rambam told us that where science and the Bible disagree, we have misunderstood the Bible. But here, I see no disagreement. The Maharal of Prague suggested that the Bible tells us that there were creatures that no longer existed in his day, which had once existed, and that there would be creatures that existed in the future that do not yet exist, and this would demonstrate the truth of the Torah and the presence of the living G-d. Living as a contemporary of Galileo, he concluded that the story of Joshua had to be understood to show that space and time were linked, and to speak of one without the other is nonsense. He pointed out that even before the Heliocentric System, we knew that other civilizations had not recorded the suns standing still, so that it was clearly a local event. Today, we know the Greenland Effect permits the air, at rare times under special circumstances, to act as a prism, and make the sun appear to sit above the horizon for hours after it has set, but only in one location. Mendel and Darwin, Maxwell and Einstein was not atheists. We should not permit the fact that atheism has become fashionable in the scientific community to confuse us about whether science dictates that view. It does not. Nor should we let our thinking be influenced by shallow religious thinkers who insist that, if they cannot conceive of a god so grand as to create a universe the size and age science speaks of, then there can be no such G-d.

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