Torah and Science

Torah and science coexist in the world that Hashem fashioned.

Print this page Print this page

Excerpted with permission from Torah U'Madda Journal.

Torah and science share axioms that stamp them both with the Seal of God, the seal of truth. The first of these axioms is the all-encompassing truth that there is order in nature. This is central to Torah theology and also a prerequisite for the development of any science.

The First Axiom: Order in Nature

If there is no order, no causality, then the human mind is stalled. Natural occurrences are then believed to be the whim of a god who may be motivated by vengeance against another god. Disorder and chaos are the consequences of arbitrariness associated with God's actions. It also negates individual responsibility, since personal action is futile in a chaotic world with only a godly whim and without rational causality.

torah and scienceModern science developed when there was a widespread intuitive conviction of the existence of order in nature, an intuitive conviction that we know so well from rabbinic statements regarding Abraham's search for God.

According to our tradition, this intuitive knowledge had been debased when earlier civilizations were derailed from the path of truth at the time of Enosh. In Genesis (4:26) we are told: "And to Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he called him Enosh. It was then that man first began to call on the name of God."

Rashi defines "to call on the name of God" as "calling the names of men and the names of idols after the name of the Holy One, blessed be He--making them the objects of idolatrous worship and calling them deities." Pantheism began to reign.

The first error, as the Rambam (Maimonides) explains, was to assume that if God is worthy of honor, His works are also worthy of honor. However, in the course of time, the works themselves became God.

God's Laws of Nature

Slowly, civilization forgot the truth of truths: that God, the Lawgiver, the Promulgator of the laws of nature, created our world be-middat hadin (in the attribute of justice), to follow immutable natural law. God, the Prime Mover, set in motion these laws of nature and asserted, in the second creation of the world after its destruction in the Flood (Genesis 8:22): "The days of the earth shall be forever; seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall never cease."

Surely, even a society whose religion was based on the theology of gods at war, Greek mythology at its worst, was aware of the order in nature. The main recurrences of life--the changing seasons governing the agricultural cycles upon which man's life depends, summer and winter, day and night, like begets like--are too insistent to escape the notice of man.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Moshe D. Tendler

Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler of the Community Synagogue of Monsey, NY, is Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and a professor of biology at Yeshiva University.