Research Archive and
Supplementary Materials

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Genesis and Cosmology,
published in Jewish Action, Summer 2000.  (Jewish Action is published quaraterly by the Orthodox Union, a mainstream Orthodox Jewish organization.)

Rabbi Goldberg writes:
Genesis' process of creation is directed, while science proposes random evolution from inorganic to organic matter, then from simple to ever more complex life. The discrepancies between Genesis and science seem irreconcilable. However, a subtler and sharper reading of both the religious and the scientific sources reveals a different picture. Genesis emerges as scientifically accurate, not just by analogy or metaphor.

This is difficult for the non-Hebrew reader to accept because of what I term the "Orthodox fallacy". Simply put, when it comes to the Torah, Orthodoxy is not orthodox. The only readers who take the Torah both literally and unidimensionally - who are fundamentalists - are non-Hebrew readers. The simplicity ascribed to the Biblical account of creation within Western culture is not and never has been a part of the intellectual heritage of even the most Orthodox Jewish believers. The scientist, however, sees a Jewish reader back off from a literal and unidimensional understanding of Genesis, expressed in the translations, and exclaims, "bad faith!"

To engage in an objective, cross-disciplinary analysis of Genesis, the scientist must acknowledge that even the most traditional reading of the Torah is never orthodox (with a small "o"). The only text that counts is the original, whose Hebrew is multi-layered in a way that is alien to the English language. What a scientist calls a "re-reading" may be an example of a time-honored hermeneutic endemic to Hebrew, generously indulged long before Galileo, Darwin, or Einstein. For millennia, the interpreter of the Torah has lived congenially with the multiple denotations and connotations of Hebrew words, phrases, and themes. Indeed, he has gloried in them, without, however, violating the plain sense of the text - without twisting its clear intent.

If a reader lets Genesis be Genesis, not a translated stultification thereof, Genesis is scientifically accurate.

Rabbi Goldberg's complete article is available online at <

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