How Not to Use Science to Bolster Faith

In his recent book The Cosmic Puzzle, published by a major Orthodox press, Harold Gans—an accomplished mathematician—seeks to use modern mathematical and scientific knowledge to demonstrate the existence of God. While finding this work “a fascinating science book,” Ben Rothke concludes that it fails at achieving what it sets out to do:

Gans writes of the unlikelihood that our universe could have been created by chance, without a prime mover. But how to connect the prime mover to the God of the Torah is left to the reader. . . . When reading of the spectacular nature of creation, a believer will consider what King David wrote in Psalms 104:24: “How many are the things You have made, O Lord; You have made them all with wisdom; the earth is full of Your creations.” The non-believer will take that same evidence and [draw different conclusions].

Gans is in fact opening something of a theological Pandora’s box. If science can be used to prove God, then it can be used to disprove God. Moreover, for those who use science as proof of God, that means they must be open to the possibility that it could also be used to disprove God, which leads to the question: would anyone want their belief in God to be based on something that could be scientifically disproven?

And more than that, even if one accepts the fact that God’s existence is necessary due to science and statistics, Gans does not indicate that there is anything to prove that God commanded us to keep the Torah’s commandments. While science might be able to bring one to deism, there is no way science can prove Judaism’s most sacred fundamentals, such as the revelation at Sinai and the observance of mitzvot. And the next logical step would be to conclude that if science can be used to prove God’s existence, it could also be used to poke holes in God’s law.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Judaism, Science and Religion, Theology


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount