Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Eilu v'Eilu Meme

AddeRabbi posts a creative and hypothetical explanation as to why the rabbis struck out on cosmology:

So perhaps that’s what ‘nishtanu ha-teva’im’ means: scientific revolutions have determined that we occupy what’s actually a differently constructed world, with different rules and laws. Nature itself has ‘changed’ – it presents itself to us in an entirely different way, and can’t be called the same ‘nature’. Earlier paradigms, which have been replaced, were as real to their adherents as contemporary ones are to us. Our predecessors constructed worlds out of them. Their laws reflect not only their ‘understanding’ of the world, but their ACTUAL world.

The task falls to us, who essentially occupy a different world, to find a way to translate from their world into ours. We also must face the reality that a lot will be lost in translation. ‘Nishtanu Ha-Teva’im’ is an acknowledgement that we occupy a different world, but are not absolved from engaging theirs.

To which I have two critiques:

1. This immunizes the rabbi's from any criticism at all- hardly fair given the amount of critical thinking that goes into scientific explanations of the world- while putting the rabbis on the same footing as any other ontological theory, be it pagan or otherwise. This smacks of the "eilu v'eilu" meme which is a dangerous slippery slope and essentially an easy way out of an argument.

2. AddeRabbi would be thrown out of most Yeshivas for the breadth of his understanding. Oops, that's a criticism of Yeshivas.