“Monkeying” Around with Evolution & Thoughts on Global Warming

Debating Evolution in Israel

The United States is not the only place where creationists attempt to redesign the science curriculum in textbooks. Israel’s chief scientist in Israel’s ministry of education, Gavriel Avital, “sparked a furor” by questioning the reliability of evolution and global warming, leading to calls for his dismissal, according to Haaretz (Feb. 21, 2010).

Avital asserts, “If textbooks state explicitly that human beings’ origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don’t believe the evolutionary account is correct,” he was quoted as saying. “There are those for whom evolution is a religion and are unwilling to hear about anything else. Part of my responsibility, in light of my position with the Education Ministry, is to examine textbooks and curricula.”

Of course all thus sounds quite familiar to those of us who are debating the merits and demerits of the Intelligent Design theories in this country. Frankly, I personally see nothing wrong with raising the issues that science confronts today. For those who argue that Intelligent Design is bogus science, wouldn’t it be interesting for students to at least participate in a scientific debate  and understand why it is bogus science? If science is to be relevant to students, then it should take on the issues that confront its accepted wisdom.

I wonder: how many students really understand why the geocentric view of the solar system is scientifically incorrect? Physicists have long argued whether light functions more like a wave or like a particle? The history of science is fascinating. Why shouldn’t students see how scientific views of universe evolves?

Now, with respect to the Anthropic Principle, this is a theory in modern physics that does have very interesting theological and philosophical implications. Why should this theory be banned from discussion? Are we so insecure in our beliefs that we are afraid to entertain the great questions that have puzzled many of the world’s greatest philosophers, scientists, and thinkers since the time of Aristotle? What ever happened to the love of learning? Continue reading ““Monkeying” Around with Evolution & Thoughts on Global Warming”

‘Twas the night before Purim …

Purim picture of the day.

Haredim Purin Mea  Shearim Santa Claus
[Purim in Meah Sharim–Haredi style] compliments of Failedmessiah.com.
Now, who says the Haredim don’t have a good sense of humor?
========

Posted by Yochanan Lavie on 28.02.10 at 4:18 pm

‘Twas the night before Purim, when all through the shul

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mule;

The stockings were hung by the aron with care,

In hopes that St. Mordecai soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their pews,

While visions of humantashen danced in their shoes;

And mammaleh in her ‘kerchief, and I in my kipah,

Had just settled down for a late winter’s sleepa,

When out in the shul there arose such a clatter,

I looked from the megillah to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of chatzot to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should show, Continue reading “‘Twas the night before Purim …”

“Purim Torah” or Purim Synchronicity?

Purim Torah is a remarkable genre of Jewish literature. It is rabbinic satire at its best that centers around the festivities of Purim. Those individuals writing Purim Torah display remarkable wit in weaving Talmudic logic in fabricating conclusions that border the absurd and sublime.

Earlier this week, I received a delightful section of a fabricated Talmud–replete with all the Aramaic expressions one would expect to find in a Talmudic debate. The selection contains a discussion involving President Obama, Al Gore, and the debate about global warming.  Even the commentaries of Rashi and Tosfot that explained the make-believe text looked pretty authentic. The name of the tractate is Mesechect Obama Metzia (a pun on Bava Metzia).

Here is another example of “Purim Torah” that almost sounds like a Rod Serling story from the Twilight Zone.

The story is well-known. Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews of the Persian Empire ended in disaster for Haman and his family. Queen Esther and Ahashverus have a conversation (Esther 9:12-14).

And the king said to Esther the queen: The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the capital, and the ten sons of Haman…Now whatever your petition, it shall be granted; whatever your request further, it shall be done.

Then said Esther: If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews that are in Shushan to do tomorrow also as this day, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.

One might ask: Esther’s request seems somewhat strange. The ten sons of Haman had already been killed, why bother to hang them? The simple approach suggests she made this request so that everyone would know the consequences that would befall them, should anyone attempt to harm the Jews.

Rabbinic commentaries have a different spin. Commenting on the word “tomorrow,” in Esther’s request, the Sages comment:

“There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later.” (Tanchuma Bo 13 and Rashi on Exodus 13:14).

From this interpretation, 20th century rabbis extrapolate that Esther was asking that the hanging of Haman’s ten sons not remain an isolated episode in history… But wait! What other “tomorrow” could Esther have been alluding to? Inquiring minds want to know!

And now you are going to hear–the rest of the story …

Rabbi Moshe Katz writes about one of the most remarkable “Torah Codes” of all time. In general, I have never subscribed to the belief in a hidden computerized message that is embedded within a biblical text. This particular interpretation is too striking  to ignore. If nothing else, it is an incredible synchronicity. He writes: Continue reading ““Purim Torah” or Purim Synchronicity?”