by Lubavitcher Rebbe

The difference Between Empirical and Speculative Science
Basically, the "problem" has its roots in a misconception of the scientific method or, simply of what science is. We must distinguish between empirical or experimental science dealing with, and confined to, describing and classifying observable phenomena, and sometimes phenomena that cannot be duplicated in the laboratory. "scientific speculation" is actually a terminological incongruity; for "science", strictly speaking, means "knowledge", while no speculation can be called knowledge in the strict sense of the word. At best, known facts and applied in the realm of the unknown. Here science has two general methods of inference;

Interpolation and Extrapolation
a. The method of interpolation (as distinguished from extrapolation), whereby, knowing the reaction under two extremes, we attempt to infer what the reaction might be at any point between the two.

b. The method of extrapolation, whereby inferences are made beyond a known range, on the basis of certain variables within the known range. For example, suppose we know the variables of a certain element within a temperature range of 0? to 100?, and on the basis of this we estimate what the reaction might be at 101?, 200?, or 2000?.

Of the two methods, the second (extrapolation) is clearly the more uncertain. Moreover, the uncertainty increases with the distance away from the known range as well as with the decrease of this range. Thus, if the known range is between 0? and 100?, our inference at 101? has a greater probability than at 1001?.

Let us note at once, that all speculation regarding the origin and age of the world comes within the second and weaker method, that of extrapolation. The weakness becomes more apparent if we bear in mind that a generalization inferred from a known antecedent is more speculative than an inference from an antecedent to consequent.

That an inference from consequent to antecedent is more speculative than an inference from antecedent to consequent can demonstrated very simply:

Four divided by two equals two. Here the antecedent is represented by the dividend and divisor, and the consequent - by the quotient. Knowing the antecedent in this case, (the dividend and divisor) gives us one possible result - the quotient (the number 2).

However, if we know only the end result, namely, the number 2, and we ask ourselves, how can we arrive at the number 2, the answer permits several possibilities, arrived at by means of different methods: (a) 1 plus 1 equals 2; (b) 4-2 equals 2; (c) 1x2 equals 2; (d) 4:2 equals 2; note that if other numbers are to come into play, the number possibilities giving us the same result is infinite (since 5-3 also equals 2; 6:3 equals 2, etc. ad infinitum.

Add to this another difficulty, which is prevalent in all methods of induction. Conclusions based on certain known data, when they are ampliative in nature, i.e. when they are extended to unknown areas, can have validity only on the assumption of "everything else being equal", that is to say on an identity of prevailing conditions, and their action and counter-action upon each other. If we cannot be sure that the variations or changes would bear at least a close relationship to the existing variables in degree; if we cannot be sure that the changes would bear at least a close relationship to the existing variables in degree; if we cannot be sure that the changes would bear a close resemblance in kind; if, furthermore, we cannot be sure that there were not other factors involved - such conclusions or inferences are absolutely valueless!

For further illustration, I will refer to one of the points, which I believe I mentioned during our conversation. In a chemical reaction whether fissional or fusional, the introduction of a new catalyst into the process, however minute the quality of this new catalyst may be, may change the whole tempo and form of the chemical process, or start an entirely new process.

We Don't Know How Single Atoms Behave
We are not yet through with the difficulties inherent in all so-called "scientific" theories concerning the origin of the world. Let us remember that the whole structure of science is based on observances of reactions and processes in the behavior of atoms in their present state, as they now exist n nature. Scientists deal with conglomerations of billions of atoms as these are already bound together, and as these relate to other existing conglomerations of atoms. Scientists know very little of the atoms in their pristine state of how one single atom may react on another single atom in a state of separateness, and much less of how parts of a single atom may react on other parts of the same or other atoms. One thing science considers certain - to the extent that any science can be certain - is that the reactions of single atoms to each other is totally different from the reactions of single atoms to each other is totally different from the reactions of one conglomeration of atoms to another.

We may now summarize the weaknesses, may, hopelessness, of all so-called scientific theories regarding the origin and age of our universe:

a. These theories have been advanced on the basis of observable data during a relatively short period of time, only a number of decades or, at any rate, not more than a couple of centuries.

b. On the basis of such a relatively small range of known (though by no means perfectly) data, scientists venture to build theories by the weak method of extrapolation, and from the consequent to the antecedent, extending to many thousands (according to them, to millions and billions) of years.

c. In advancing such theories, they blithely disregard factors universally admitted by all scientists, namely, that in the initial period of the "birth" of the universe, conditions of temperature, atmospheric pressure, radioactivity, and a host of other cataclystic factors, were totally different from those existing in the present state of the universe.

d. The concensus of scientific opinion is that there must have been many radio-active elements in the initial stage which now no longer exist, or exist only in minimal quantities; some of them elements the cataclystic potency of which is known even in minimal doses.

e. The formation of the world, if we are to accept these theories, began with a process of colligation (binding together) of single atoms or the components of atoms and then their conglomeration and consolidation, involving totally unknown processes and variables.

In short, of all the weak "scientific" theories, those which deal with the origin of cosmos and with its dating are (admittedly so by the scientists themselves) the weakest of the weak.

The contradictions Between The Theories
It is small wonder (and this, incidentally, is one of the obvious refutations of these theories) that the various "scientific" theories concerning the age of the universe not only contradict each other, but some of them are quite incompatible and mutually exclusive, since the maximum date of one theory is less than the minimum date of another.

If anyone accepts such a theory uncritically, it can only lead hem into fallacious and inconsequential reasoning. Consider, for examples, the so-called evolutionary theory of the origin of the world which is based on the assumption that the universe evolved out of existing atomic and subatomic particles which, by an evolutionary process, combined to form the physical universe and our planet - on which organic life somehow developed, also by an evolutionary process, until "homo-sapiens" emerged.

It is hard to understand why one should readily accept the creation of atomic and subatomic particles in a state which is admittedly unknownable and inconceivable, yet should be reluctant to accept the creation of planets, or organisms, or a human being, as we know these to exist.

The Existence of Fossils
The argument form the discovery of fossils, is by no means conclusive evidence of the great antiquity of te earht, for the following reasons:

a. In view of the unknown conditions which existed in "prehistoric" times, conditions of atmospheric pressures, temperatures, radioactivity, unknown catalyzers, etc., etc. as already mentioned, conditions, that is, which could have caused reactions and changes of an entirely different nature and temp from those known under the present-day orederly processes of nature, one cannot exclude the possibility that dinosaurs existed 5722 year ago, and became fossilized under terrific natural cataclysms in the course of a few years rather than in millions of years, since we have no conceivable measurements or criteria of calculations applicable to those unknown conditions.

b. Even assuming that the period of time which the Torah allows for the age of the world is definietely too short for fossilization (although I do not see how one can be so categorical), we can still readily accept the possibility that G-d created ready fossils, bones or skeletons (for reasons best know to Him), just as He could create ready living organisms, a complete man, and such ready products as oil coal or diamonds, without any evolutionary process.

Why Did G-d Create Fossils?
As for the question, if it be true as above (b), why did G-d have to create fossils in the first place? The answer is simple: We cannot know the reason why G-d chose this manner of creation in preference to another, and whatever theory of creation is accepted the question will always remain unanswered. The question, Why create a fossil? Is no more valid than the question, Why create an atom? Certainly, such a question cannot serve as a sound argument, much less as a logical basis, for the evolutionary theory.

What is scientific basis is there for limiting the creative process to an evolutionary process only, starting with atomic and sub-atomic particles - a theory full of unexplained gaps and complications, and excluding the possibility of creation as given by the Biblical account? For, if the latter possibility be admitted, everything falls neatly into pattern, and all speculation regarding the origin and age of the world becomes unnecessary and irrelevant.

It is surely no argument to question this possibility by saying, Why should the creator create a finished universe, when it would have been sufficient for Him to create an adequate number of atoms or subatomic particles with the power of colligation and evolution to develop into the present cosmic order? The absurdity of this argument becomes even more obvious when it is the basis of a flimsy theory rather than based on sound and irrefutable arguments overriding all other possibilities.

Why Is The Theory of Creation So Popular
The question may be asked, If the theories attempting to explain the origin and age of the world are so weak, how could they been advance in the first place? The answer is simple. It is a matter of human nature to seek an explanation for everything in the environment, and any theory, however far-fetched, is better than none, at least until a more feasible explanation can be devised.

You may now ask, In the absence of a sounder theory, why then isn't the Biblical account of creation accepted by those scientists? The answer, again, is to be found in human nature. It is a natural human ambition to be inventive and original. To accept the Biblical account deprives one of the opportunity to show one's analytic and inductive ingenuity. Hence, when disregarding the Biblical account, the scientist must devise reasons to "justify" his doing so, and so he takes refuge in classifying it with ancient and primitive "mythology" and the like, since he cannot really argue against it on scientific ground.

There Is No Proof of Evolution
If you are still troubled by the theory of evolution, I can tell you without fear fo contradiction that if has not a shred of evidence to support it. On the contrary, during the years of research and investigation since the theory was first advanced, it had been possible to observe certain species of animal and plant life of a short life-span over thousand of generations, yet it has never been possible to establish a transmutation from one species into another, much less to turn a plant into an animal. Hence such a theory can heve no place in he arsenal of empirical science.

Even a Proof for Evaluation is Not a Proof Against Torah
The theory of evolution, to which reference has been made, actually has no bearing on the Torah account of creation. For even if the theory of evolution were substantiated today, and the mutation of species were proven in laboratory tests, this would still not contradict the possibility of the world having been created as as stated in the Torah, rather than through the evolutionary process. The main purpose of citing the evolutionary theory was to illustrate how a highly speculative and scientifically unsound theory can capture the imagination of the of the uncritical, so much so that it is even offered as a "scientific" explanation of the mystery of Creation, despite the fact that the theory of evolution itself has not been substantiated scientifically and is devoid of any real scientific basis.

On Science and Scientific Theory
Needless to say, it is not my intent to cast aspersion on science or to discredit the scientific method. Science cannot operate except by accepting certain working theories or hypotheses, even if they cannot be verified, though some theories die hard even when they are scientifically refuted or discredited (the evolutionary theory is a case in point). No technical progress would be possible unless certain physical "laws" are accepted, even though there is no guaranty that the "law" well repeat itself. However, I do wish to emphasize, aas already mentioned, that science has to do only with theories but not with certainties. All scientific conclusions, or generalizations, can only be probable in a greater or lesser degree according to the precautions taken in the use of the available evidence, and the degree of probability necessarily decreases with the distance from the empirical facts, or with the increase of the unknown variables, etc., as already indicated. If you will bear this in mind, you will readily realize that there can be no real conflict between any scientific theory and the Torah.

My above remarks have turned out somewhat lengthier than intended, but they are still all too brief inrelatin to the misconception and confusion prevailing in many minds. Moreover, my remarks had to be confined to general observations, as this is hardly the medium to go into greater detail. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to write to me.

To conclude on a note touched upon in our conversation:

The Mitzvah of putting on Teffillin every weekday, on the han facing the heart, and on the head - the seat of the intellect, indicates among other things, the true Jewish approach: performance first (hand), with sincerity and wholeheartedness, followed by intellectual comprehension (head); i.e. Na'ashe first, then V'nishma. May this spirit permeate your intellect and arouse your emotive powers and find expression in every aspect of the daily life, for "the essential thing is the deed".

With blessing

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