In his editorial column “Mystery Science Theater 2011” in the Sept. 22 issue, Andrew Silow-Carroll declares, “I turn to science for the best explanation of what we are, where we live, how we got here, and, depending on our attitude toward the empirical evidence, where we are going.” In the Oct. 6 issue, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman’s op-ed “The surprising appeal of Kol Nidrei” echoes that sentiment, stating that Judaism’s “road toward greater secularity” is “not necessarily a bad thing, if by ‘secular’ we mean the discovery that the world is devoid of magical forces and that everything runs by an immutable set of scientific laws.”
I wonder if Moses, standing upon a shaking Mount Sinai amid the smoke and thunder of God’s presence, would have been so brash in his dismissal of God as a “magical force.” I wonder if the Israelites standing at the foot of that mountain would have shared Rabbi Hoffman’s estimation that this world is “devoid” of any force that cannot be explained by scientific laws.
And I wonder if Elijah, after witnessing the fire of God fall from heaven and consume everything within sight when he called on the name of God, would have turned to science for the “best explanation of what we are.”
How can it be that the editor-in-chief of a Jewish publication would be so proud to have divorced himself from his identity in the God of Israel? And how can it be that an ordained rabbi would brazenly flaunt an outright mockery of belief in God? Is that really the message of modern Judaism — that an intelligent Jew is one who considers a belief in God to be nothing more than an ancient and primitive superstition? Exactly what advantage is to be gained by such an outlook?
For the record, there is a logical flaw to such thinking, to say nothing of the devastating spiritual consequences. Science simply cannot offer any sort of hard explanations for anything that happened more than, say, ten billion years ago. We can dance around with clever philosophical answers all we like, but the fact is, ten billion years is nothing compared to “forever,” which is how much time we have to account for when explaining the origin of the universe. In other words, science still has no clue how it all began.
If science has done anything for us, it is to open our eyes to the beauty and wonder of creation, to leave us in rapt awe as we ponder how the universe could have gotten itself into such a state in the first place. Indeed, science’s greatest aspiration is to serve as the bright beacon which leads our hungry hearts to an admiration and love for God.
If a person is intent upon finding the love of God in the beauty of the universe, then God will certainly give that person the desire of his heart. But if a person wants to look at the beauty and wonder of the universe and convince himself that there is no God, then he too will be given the desire of his heart. It is much less a condition of the mind than a condition of the heart.