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Beyond belief
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Beyond belief

Recently there were two letters to the editor regarding the conflict between science and the Torah. The first letter said the conflict is real and a scientist must be an atheist. The second letter
said there is no conflict and a scientist can be an Orthodox Jew. Both letters gave references to support their positions.

The truth is both are mistaken. Science consists of observations of nature, along with explanations. The explanations are called scientific theories. A theory is a mathematical system along with supporting observations. A mathematical system is a collection of arbitrary consistent statements and the logical conclusions. Scientific ideas must be things that one can possibly measure; if it cannot be measured it is not a scientific idea.

The Talmud clarifies that people cannot comprehend the concept of God. Therefore, God, neither measurable nor defined, is not part of science.

When Moses our Teacher approached the Burning Bush, he wanted to know why the bush was burning but not consumed. He was looking for a scientific explanation. A successful leader must ask questions and try to understand.

The focus of the Torah is actions. The medieval rabbi Nachmanides, disagreeing with Maimonides, said belief in God is not one of the 613 commandments, saying “one cannot command belief.”

Sanford Aranoff
Adjunct associate professor of mathematics and science
Rider University

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