Do scientific explanations of phenomena remove the need for a Designer?
How can the scientific account of the development of the universe be reconciled with Genesis?
Can Judaism accept the idea that animals and man evolved from lower forms of life via natural selection?
The Challenge of Creation is a completely revised and vastly expanded edition of The Science Of Torah. That work was widely hailed as the best book of its kind for its honesty and thoroughness of approach. The Challenge of Creation builds upon its approach, covering more issues and in greater depth. Carefully, methodically, and eschewing sensationalistic or dogmatic claims in favor of reasoned analysis, it shows how some of the greatest Jewish thinkers explained Judaism and Genesis in a way that complements modern science rather than conflicts with it. The Challenge of Creation is an invaluable resource for anyone grappling with conflicts between science and religion. It is a profound work that is sure to become a classic.
Hardcover/ 360 pp./ $34.95
The book can be purchased at Jewish bookstores across North America and Israel, and you can also purchase it online here for the discounted price of $29.95 plus $5 shipping and handling to North America and Israel:Soth Africa, Australia and Europe: $29.95 plus $15 shipping
NOTE: This book was written for those who are committed to the tenets of Judaism, but also respect the scientific enterprise and possess an advanced education in the natural sciences, and who are therefore disturbed by the challenges that are raised for their understanding of Torah. It addresses these challenges by following the approach of Rambam (Maimonides) and similar Torah scholars towards these issues, which, while firmly within the framework of authentic Orthodox Judaism, is not the method of choice in many segments of the ultra-Orthodox community. But many have found that no other approach works as well in solving these difficulties.
Other people may not possess as extensive a background in the sciences or may dispute the validity of the modern scientific enterprise. They may therefore simply not be bothered by the questions discussed in this book, or they may have different ways of dealing with such conflicts. Such people are not the intended audience of this book and they are advised not to read it.
"This work demonstrates that grappling with issues such as evolution, the age of the universe,
the literalism of our sacred texts, miracles, divine providence, and the scientific worldview in
general can result in a new appreciation of the breadth and depth of our Torah... Seekers, whether
new to the Jewish observance or born into the Orthodox fold, will find in this work a model of honest
confrontation with serious challenges. The Challenge of Creation spells out these challenges
articulately, analyzes them keenly, and refers to impeccable and authoritative traditional sources
to address them... Rabbi Slifkin is to be commended for his contribution to our abiding faith as
well as for his courageous intellectual honesty."
—Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Executive Vice President, The Orthodox Union
Rabbi Slifkin's book is hands down the best Orthodox work on the evolution-creation issue--and perhaps on Orthodox
Judaism's confrontation with modern science. Written with a marvelous lucidity, it removes a group of flawed but
tenacious arguments from the table and develops a formidable if controversial alternative. That the book has provoked,
and will continue to provoke, debate and disagreement testifies to its importance and to its sharp and clear
formulation of the issues and challenges.
—Dr. David Shatz
Professor of Philosophy, Yeshiva University,
Adjunct Professor of Religion, Columbia University
"In this revised edition of The Science of Torah, Rabbi Slifkin addresses creation and evolution with
courage and integrity. Eschewing apologetics, Rabbi Slifkin sets down a highly sophisticated and deeply religious
account of how an informed contemporary Jew is to think about the biblical story of creation. Clear, cogent, and
philosophically convincing, Rabbi Slifkin's The Challenge of Creation is an intellectual kiddush Hashem (sanctification
of God's Name)."
—Professor Yehuda Gellman
Department of Philosophy, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Author, Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief
"The Challenge of Creation is a wonderful and important book. Rabbi Slifkin demonstrates that cosmology and
evolution are not a threat to religion and that Orthodox Judaism should not be hostile to modern science. On the contrary,
educated Jews should embrace scientific progress as giving us a better understanding of and appreciation for the glory of
God. Rabbi Slifkin writes with clarity and logic and with a firm grasp of the scientific issues. He provides extensive
references to a wide range of Torah giants whose interpretations show that cosmology and evolution are not alien from our
tradition. It is an invaluable resource for those of us in communities where the scientific ideas described in this book are
known to be firmly established and where students, friends and colleagues constantly question us about traditional
Judaism's views on modern science."
—Professor Carl Rosenzweig
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Syracuse University
"No one could read this book without being aware of the author's deeply spiritual nature and his absolute devotion to the
faith of his fathers. At the same time, one meets a man for whom the world is God's creation and it is for us, made in God's
image, to go forward bravely exploring and trying to understand this creation. Rabbi Slifkin shows us that modern science
is in the end a wonderful hymn to what God has wrought, and its appreciation enriches our lives and makes possible an even
greater respect for, and love of, the Author of all things."
Professor Michael Ruse
Department of Philosophy, Florida State University
Author, The Darwinian Revolution and Darwin and Design
"...Shows convincingly that it is possible to debate these questions within the framework of modern science, while remaining
completely loyal to the fundamentals of emunah... for its scope and depth of treatment I think it is the best book presently
available on this subject."
Rabbi Aryeh Carmell
Author, Masterplan; Editor, Michtav Me-Eliyahu
(Read Rav Carmell's full approbation here)
"Rabbi Natan Slifkin examines currents of modern thought that others suspected to be hostile to traditional Judaism, and
proves them to be more friend than foe...The author quickly wins the confidence of the reader with thorough scholarship,
using restraint instead of hype, and giving full voice to positions that differ from his own. The Science of Torah is a
considered discussion of issues, rather than a pitch for a quirky private theory. It is a book you will be proud to share
with thinking friends-both traditionalists and skeptics."
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
Author, Maharal: Be'er HaGolah
"As a scientist and observant Jew I found this book to offer the finest reconciliation between what many see as a
conflict between science and Torah… This book presents the most clear explanation I have ever read of how these two,
the observation of the physical world, and the spiritual world recorded in Torah, may come together, for a greater
understanding of God's creation."
Professor Tim M. Kusky
Paul C. Reinert Professor of Natural Sciences, Saint Louis University
Author, The Encyclopedia of Earth Science
Q. I already own The Science Of Torah. Is it worthwhile for me to buy The Challenge Of Creation?
A. Yes, absolutely! This work differs from The Science Of Torah in several significant ways. The text has been completely revised and numerous minor but sloppy errors have been corrected. There is also a wealth of new material in several sections, and the book is twice the length of the first edition. In particular, there are new sources corroborating some of the more "radical" concepts in this book. This new version also addresses several themes not adequately discussed in the first edition, such as the license for non-literal interpretation, the history of conflicts between Torah and science, and questions posed by the existence of ancient human civilizations. Anyone who owns and appreciates The Science Of Torah will definitely want to purchase The Challenge Of Creation.
Q. Is this book under the same ban as the first edition?
A. That depends on which signatories of the ban you are referring to. In general, the ban was directed against the book Mysterious Creatures (i.e. the topic of the scientific knowledge of the Sages of the Talmud), not The Science Of Torah. Those who who objected to the ideas in The Science Of Torah fall into two categories. Some, such as Rav Dovid Feinstein, are of the opinion that it is actually heretical to state that the universe is billions of years old; accordingly, this new book would likewise fall under the original ban. Others, such as Rav Elyashiv, do not believe that these ideas are actually heretical; they merely object to their being presented as mainstream legitimate works for the yeshivah community. Accordingly, this book, which is clearly labelled as being only for those people grappling with conflicts between Torah and science, should not be assumed to fall under the ban (for its intended readers). It should be emphasized that the very same concepts and approaches that these rabbinic authorities have labelled as heretical or unacceptable, have been actively endorsed and promulgated by other rabbinic authorities.
Q. So, bottom line, is it halachically permissible to purchase the book?
A. If you believe that this is a halachic question that you cannot decide yourself, ask your local halachic authority.
"...closely argued and well-written, and not without flashes of humour here and there... powerfully and rationally
argues that to be Orthodox need not—indeed, must not—mean abandoning reason, nor need it mean rejecting science...
the most intelligent and interesting [book] I have read on the subject... civilized, respectful, erudite, well-argued,
The Canadian Jewish News (full review)
"...A clear-eyed vision of the natural sciences as seen through the lens of Jewish tradition... His intended
audience-religious Jews facing crises of faith-will be hard-pressed to find a more carefully crafted book of ideas."
Moment Magazine (full review)
"...Offers a sumptuous variety of theological and philosophical approaches to reconciling Darwinian evolution with
religious faith...fascinatingly rich..."
"The Human Factor," in The Weekly Standard (full review)
Correction: Page 70 contained an inaccurate representation of Ramban's view of Divine Providence, as
explained by Rabbi Dr. David Berger in his important essay "Miracles and the Natural Order in Nachmanides." Here are some
quotes from the essay which correct this presentation:
"The Jewish collective is often (usually?) guided by miraculous providence, but it too can find itself forsaken and left to accidents."
"The religiously unavoidable belief in such providence must logically lead to a relaxation of inhibitions against the recognition of miracles."
"[Nahmanides'] God retains the unrestricted right of intervention in the natural order; even ordinary individuals have their time of reckoning, not only the absolutely righteous and the absolutely wicked die from eating the heave-offering, non-Jewish collectives can certainly be punished for sin—and Nahmanides' logic requires that all these divine acts be understood as miraculous. At the same time, such interventions remain very much the exception in a world which otherwise functions in an entirely naturalistic way. Nahmanides' position allows for untrammeled miracles within a fundamentally natural order..."
The full essay is available as a PDF file here.
In March 2008, a second edition of The Challenge Of Creation was published. The changes and corrections from the first edition are in a PDF document that can be downloaded here.
Addition to page 182 (first edition, page 185 in second edition), discussing the idea that even though the six "days" of creation are not literally days, this does not take away from the concept of Shabbos ocurring after six 24 hours days: There is another instance where we see that the symbolic language of the Torah is of binding halachic nature. According to several authorities, the Talmud (Chagigah 2a, Erechin 2b, Sanhedrin 4b) derives from a verse speaking of God's "eyes" that a person's halachic obligation to visit the Temple during the pilgrimage festivals only exists if, like God, he possesses two eyes. Now, while some Rishonim may have interpreted this literally, certainly normative interpretation today is that this description of God possessing two eyes is not literal; and yet its literal meaning is used in a halachically binding context.
Comments from readers will be posted here. To send a comment, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.,/p>
"Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I am baal tshuva, and have not had an extensive education on Jewish thought, so it felt to me like a bolt of electricity to discover the Torah's relationship with nature. I have been embarrassed to ask much about the inconsistencies I recognize between science and Torah teachings; although for sure the rebbaim seem quite knowledgeable, it was always my understanding that we had to have a leap of faith to embrace much of what is taught. The Challenge of Creation opened my eyes that it was never necessary to ignore scientific discoveries, in fact it is modern science which illustrates the most fascinating facets of HaShem's work. Not only have I been impressed by your resilience to the pressures from the ban and the campaign against you, I am even more in awe of your understanding of the necessity of certain groups needing to separate from some ideas in order to exist. Truly, you are an example of how we must show love and understanding of one another. I must thank you beyond your teachings of biology and zoology; the greatest lessons I believe come from your middot.
I would like to thank you for writing "The Challenge of Creation". It was probably the first book that I have ever read which honestly dealt with the issues of science and Torah without making weak arguements or assuming that science was fundementally wrong/flawed. I especailly appreciated how you made reference at parts to opinions which disagreed with your views and explained why you felt your approach was better. I found that it was very respectful to the reader as it let him draw his own conclusions as oppose to telling him which is the correct perspective.
"Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
A breath of fresh air and logic and reason! I'm reading your book, The Challenge Of Creation and loving it...loving the logic and the intelligent, respectful handling of a hot topic."
"Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I have just finished your book and wanted to tell you that I found it to be absolutely wonderful.
I have a Ph.D. in Semitic Languages, and teach in the Hebrew department of Hebrew University, with a specialty in Biblical Hebrew. I have been thinking about the issues discussed in your book since a very young age, and this is the first time that I have read a book that discusses modern science in a way that actually enhances ahavat Hashem, as opposed to presenting apologetics for the religious world view. It is great to have all the rabbinic sources you have assembled in an organized essay that can be used for repeated reference... I think that your bold approach to the interpretation of Breishit is the only one that really works, especially with regard to the evolution of the human species... Thank you."
"Thank You, Rabbi Slifkin, for your wonderful book, The Challenge of Creation. I am of your target audience, a scientifically knowledgeable Orthodox Jew who has been troubled by these questions for much of my life. It's the first book of its kind that didn't push me away from Orthodoxy (and I've read tens of these books). In fact it gave me new hope that Orthodox Judaism might actually survive modernity... all in all, I absolutely loved this book."
"You really have done a fantastic job on this new edition. I enjoyed The Science of Torah, but this one is a masterpiece of research and emunah and crystalline thinking. Thanks for writing it."
"I bought the book "Challenge of Creation", I am in middle of reading it. It is really a great book. It is
impossible to read the book without growing in emunah. Thanks!!
One more thing, as a Charedi, I can tell you that a large percentage of the Charedi community fully support your approach regarding evolution and Chazal's knowledge of science. Every year the percentage of Charedim who subscribe to your approach will grow. I am certain that the younger generation of Charedim are more supportive than the older generation, which shows that ultimately the vast majority of the community will support your approach. Although it took a long time for the frum community to accept heliocentricity, however due to the internet - the information age, I think it will only take 20 years for it to gain majority support in the Charedi community. Just my 2 cents!!"
"Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I greatly enjoyed the "Challenge of Creation." What is especially remarkable is that you were able to summarize and tie together historical developments in such a broad range of key areas, including the Philosphy of Science and fundementals of Jewish belief.
Best wishes and congratulations,
"Hi R. Slifkin,
I just wanted to complement your new book: "The Challenge of Creation". I enjoyed it immensely. Your published works have helped me to understand more fully both Judaism and Science. I've been interested in understanding the issues you've written about for years. I've found them so thought provoking, I even went on a dinosaur dig in Malta, Montana. It was truly an incredible experience.
I recently purchased the book "Challenge of Creation" (it was nearly impossible to track down a copy as it has been sold out everyone I checked in Yerushalayim) and was pleased to see that such a sorely needed book has finally been published to quench the needs of the educated Orthodox population. The book articulates many ideas I have myself speculated upon, and answers questions I had yet to crack. I only hope that this is not the last of such publications for the modern-Haredi community; since the necessity for them only grows.
D., Kiryat Sefer
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
Ever since reading "The Science of Torah" I have eagerly purchased and read all your other books. I very much appreciate your honest approach to dealing with difficult topics and I'm always impressed with the depth and breadth of research that you bring to bear in the subjects that you tackle.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I read The Science of Torah and found it both fascinating and liberating. No longer do I need to feel uncomfortable with supposed contradictions between science and Torah, and a major barrier to perfect faith in Hashem and His Torah has been lifted.
All the best,
I very much enjoyed your book on Torah and Science... More importantly it helped further synthesize my Torah view of the world with the world of modern science. In fact I greatly recommend your Sefer as the BEST one I have read thus far in its field. It contains no apologetics and is superbly researched...
Dear Rabbi Slifkin.
I have recently finished reading your book, 'The Science of Torah'. It was a fascinating read and has expanded my understanding of how Judaism views science and how it deals with both the age of the universe and the emergence of life. I have become interested in Judaism over the last couple of years and found most of the apologetics (for the age of the universe and evolution) to be very constricting. After going through a period where I was overly skeptical of scientific works and somewhat blindingly over zealous in my defence of certain apologetic thoughts, I now find, after reading your book, to be free to look at science with an open attitude. This has helped me mature my understanding of the Torah/Science sphere, and although my views are not as clearly defined as they were (I think I have a lot of reading to do regarding this) they are far more sensible and flexible. Thank you for helping me to develop this view.
Hello Rav Slifkin!
I... deeply appreciate your publication of "The Science of Torah." I am a Baal Teshuva (or on the way)... I grew up with a great deal of appreciation and wonder for the prehistoric past, dinosaurs, and evolutionary theory. One of the toughest conflicts I had when coming to Torah was how to reconcile my fairly broad paleontological knowledge with Torah - especially as I had seen some hashkafic approaches which merely ridicule evolutionary biologists and paleontologists. Your sefer is, in my humble opinion, the best Torah/Science work that I have ever seen in its fairness, balance, and scholarship. In sum, yasher koach!
A.S., Washington DC
Shalom Rabbi Slifkin,
I am writing to tell you about my husband. Many years ago he was an enthusiastic baal tshuva but the road is difficult and he has veered off course. He is a doctor and he is very smart. However, he could not resolve the conflict of the world's scientific findings with what is taught to his children in Yeshiva. Mainly, he maintained the world must be millions of years old due to the dinosaur bones and the "ancient humans" found in Africa. After studying National Geographic, and everything he learned in public school and college, he was convinced that evolution had to be where we are from. He seemed to still believe in G-d but that he is remote in his current affairs and the world in general. He was so confused, all of this and he still wears his kippah and tzitzis, but he had a hard time keeping shomer shabbos. I was desperate to help him find his way back and to find something published that could give him good answers to the reason there are dinosaur bones and ancient humans. To me the answer is obvious, it is all the hand of Hashem and is renewed daily. But he wanted an explanation from the Torah.
So I purchased The Science of Torah for him. Wow. That is quite a book. It is excellent and I am now starting to read through it for the second time. There was a lot I did not understand with the first reading. But I told you this was for my husband. That day after he read your book, for the first time in a few months, he was home before candle lighting for Shabbos and he just seemed more at ease about Shabbos. But another thing has happened as well, a bit more shalom bayis, not because my husband may have become more understanding, although I hope so, but I now understand how a type of evolution may fit well within Hashem's divine plan and how the universe and this world and all that is in it unfolded. I want to thank you for helping me and my husband to grown in Yiddishkeit and to increase our shalom bayis. I am certain your book will help many others and it will be received and appreciated successfully by the Jewish community.
S.E., New Jersey
Dear R' Nosson,
I finished reading "The Science of Torah" this weekend - It blew me away. I read a good deal on the combined topic of "creation, evolution and torah", both pro- and anti- science - yours was the best synthesis of the topics that I have seen. Some of the footnotes alone were worth the price of the book. It was a very fitting read for the new year.
S.W., New York
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I am a high school science teacher and am a big fan of The Science of Torah. It was an essential part of my introduction to a unit on Evolution. My daughter and I so enjoyed Nature's Song. She recites Perek Shirah each day and it makes it so much more meaningful. We thank you for your clear presentation in these beautiful works.
Family C, New York
I purchased this phenomenal book for my 18 year old Orthodox son who loves the study of Talmud and science. As a new student
attending MIT it is my hope that he will always feel at peace studying both Torah and science and not feeling that the two
are at odds. Your book helps make this possible!
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I'm writing to extend my congratulations to you on your book "The Science of Torah", which I have recently finished reading. As a scientist and observant Jew I found your book to offer the finest reconciliation between what many see as a conflict between science and Torah. While many scientists see their understanding and explanations of how things work in the natural world as being outside the realm of religion, your book makes it clear that all of nature is part of Hashem's creation and constant supervision, and that the natural laws that scientists have discovered are simply part of the framework in which Hashem operates and interacts with the natural world. One of the most difficult points that most people have in resolving science and Torah is with the time scales invoked by scientists for the formation of the Earth and Universe, in contrast to the six days of creation in the Torah. As a geologist I regularly work with samples that are dated by many different independent methods as being billions (4.5) of years old, and there is not a serious geologist out there who does not recognize the billions of years of history recorded in the stratigraphic record on Earth. Astronomers and Physicists likewise see a 14 or 15 billion-year history of the universe.
In your book I was very pleased at the way you examined this thorny issue at several different levels. On one level, you note that some suggest that Hashem may have created an Earth and Universe that was already old, with features that would later be interpreted by scientists as particularly ancient. While observant Jews can not really discount this a possible, I like your analysis in which you state that this is unlikely since you don’t think Hashem is trying to test or fool us. You also do an excellent job of discussing the impossibility that the days are referring to days as we currently measure them, since the Earth and Sun were not in existence for the first days of Genesis. You note that parts of the Torah are particularly mystical and not meant to be taken literally, including Bereshis. You mention that the days of creation may be metaphorically referring to spiritual forces and not days as we know them in our physical world. What we know are but a few drops from the ocean, as you quote from one of our early sages.
In my years as a scientist I have often pondered how the scientific and Torah worlds might come together to explain our observations, and have always believed they would and must, and in fact the sequence of events recognized by scientists is now closer than ever to that in the Torah. In your book, you have presented the most clear explanation I have ever read of how these two, the observation of the physical world, and the spiritual world recorded in Torah, may come together, for a greater understanding of Hashem's creation.
Professor T.M. Kusky
Paul C. Reinert Professor of Natural Sciences
Saint Louis University
Dear Rav Nosson,
I am writing to congratulate you, and to thank you for your important work, 'The Science of Torah'. I myself work in the field of outreach, and have much experience in re-introducing young Jews across the UK to the world of Torah.
There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest shortcoming we have had, as a Torah community, when appproaching young intelligent academically trained secular Jews, is a total lack of sophistication and understanding of the complexity of the challenges posed by our current scientific knowledge. The mainstream approach within Torah education has often been to denigrate scientific knowledge, to attempt to pick holes in scientific theory (such as evolution) and to pretend scientific knowledge to be inadequate and speculative. Whilst such an approach can work for those who have grown up with the wisdom and beauty of Torah (and even then it is often an insufficient approach!) it is certainly becomes problematic when trying to communicate it to an intelligent skeptic.
I have personally witnessed prominent Rabbonim, even of the Baal Teshuvah movement, coming unstuck when challenged properly by young students of scientific disciplines, even at undergraduate level! Scientific knowledge is simply too complete, consistent and rigorous nowadays to be shrugged off. And yet since Torah is the expression of a Creator of the very phenomea that scientific knowledge is revealing, the Torah cannot possibly be unaware of these phenomena!!!
Your book provides a dramatic and critical leap forward. It is thoroughly honest and rigorous, from a perspective that is uncompromisingly Torah - clearly you are a true yirei Shomayim - and yet uncompromisingly intellectually honest. I have not only used the ideas myself - to great effect Boruch Hashem!! - but also use them in training programmes we run for educators and lay people alike in the community.
Recently as I was interviewing a prospective candidate for one such programme, he actually asked me about the book, and recent opposition he had heard to it. He was bothered, because though he had grown up chareidi here in London, attended a chareidi school, loved Judaism, and moved onto a mainstream chareidi Yeshivah in Yerushalayim, he had remained deeply bothered by the conflicts between Torah and science. Until he too came across your book. Not only he, but apparently many of his friends in a similar boat had also discovered it, and, according to this bochur, it had helped strengthen their Emunah.
May I thank you on behalf of the dozens of people I know personally who have gained so much from 'The Science of Torah'. It is nothing short of a real kiddush Hashem, a critical work that klal Yisroel could have done with long ago. Who knows how many people will be able to find their way back to Hashem because of this book... Who knows how great your zechus... May Hashem help you continue to help all of us gain clarity in understanding His infinite Torah and His beautiful creation.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I can't tell you how happy I was to have read your book The Science of Torah. I have been a practicing Rabbi for the past 20 years and your book reinforced my understanding of Emunah, and reconciled many dilemmas I had. It was fulfilling to be reminded of awesome Torah sources which tackled so many issues in such a mature manner.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
As a scientist, a biologist with more than 40 years of scientific research and administrative activity behind him,
I am writing to say how much I support your work. I read The Science of Torah and it gave me one of the clearest expositions of the lack of conflict of Torah and science. In this age of science, we cannot lose an entire generation of young people by forcing them to turn their back on science as they learn Torah in greater depth and show increased commitment to mitzvot.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I was most impressed by your book "The Science of Torah". It came like a breath of fresh air.
I have been a professional biologist most of my life, now approaching retirement, and having been brought up on modern science of course I experienced some difficulties when I began to do teshuva in my 40's - the age of the world, evolution etc., etc., - the usual difficulties faced by baalei teshuva.
As I advanced in yiddishkeit and got more deeply into the yeshivah world I also became aware that science and scientists - and biologists in particular - are in general derided and despised in the frum world, or at best pitied. On the other hand I happen to know, from personal knowledge, that the greatest biologists are usually highly intelligent, humble, honest truth-seekers, and not dribbling imbeciles as every cheder yingel is taught. Come to that, I myself have taught evolution and I'm not aware of being as subnormal as that. So there's something not quite right here.
For me, studying the workings of the world, and especially biology, is a way of glimpsing the workings of its Creator, a way of getting close to G-d. Pollination by insects, inflammation, cellular communication, the rain cycle - the list is awesome and endless. Your book was a balm to my troubled spirit, showing that Judaism does not have to be anti-science, that faith and intellect do not have to be enemies, and that Torah and science are strikingly similar in many ways, both being ways of approaching Hashem.
The book is honest, well-researched and brilliant. In an ideal world where all Jews were properly Torah-educated from birth there would probably be no need for it, but since that is not the case I strongly recommend your book for all thinking baalei teshuva, especially those with some scientific knowledge. They will probably learn quite a lot of science too!
Please continue with this essential work.
With best regards
As a science teacher in a frum girl's middle school, it is both my pleasure and my privilege to introduce my students
to the wonders of Hashem's creations. I have found Rabbi Slifkin's book, The Science of Torah, to be an invaluable
resource. The book is divided into three different sections: the first part details the delicate balance of all the "natural"
laws, which point to a unique Creator. The second part details questions on the age of the universe, and the third part
details different theories of evolution.
When my students ask, "why do we have to learn science, we're never going to be scientists?" I answer that one can gain in Yiras Shomayim by contemplating Hashem's creations. The delicate balance of "natural" laws is such that life could not exist if even one thing were different. Rabbi Slifkin's book gives many examples of these natural laws, and also shows how they lead to an appreciation of Hashem's greatness. Rabbi Slifkin gives a very clear and understandable explanation of the correspondence of the physical world and the spiritual. The universe in which we live is a physical manifestation of the spiritual world simply because Torah was the 'blueprint' for creating the physical universe. Just as there is a concept of 'histahlshelus', an unfolding of layers of existence from the spiritual down to the physical, there is a corresponding unfolding of patterns in the physical world that we inhabit, termed fractals by the scientific community.
My administration feels that it is very important for me to cover the topics of the age of the universe and evolution from a Torah viewpoint so that my students have the background of proper hashkafah when exposed to them later. Rabbi Slifkin's book has a very thorough discussion of the Torah perspective on these issues, presenting ideas from many of our sages. I tell my students that Hashem created the world the way He wanted it to exist. He could have created it in any way He wanted. The fact that the world was created with evidence of an old universe, with gradual stages in the creation of animals, seemingly evolving from one to another, means that this is the way Hashem wanted the world to look. As Rabbi Slifkin quotes from the Kuzari, "Heaven forbid that there should be anything manifest or proved which would contradict anything in the Torah." It is important that my students learn the difference between actual observations, "that which is manifest", and vague theories and incorrect pseudoscience, and it is vitally important that they know what our sages have said on these topics. Too many of our people look at scientific observations and conclude that the Torah is, chalilah, wrong. Too many others look at the Torah and conclude that Hashem's actual creation is what is wrong. This is also a tragedy.
People come to Yiras Shomayim in many different ways. There are some who come to love Hashem and realize His greatness from studying Torah. Others come from contemplating the wonders of His creations. The last question I ask my students on the final test at the end of the year is: What did you learn this year that helps you realize 'Mah rabu maasecha Hashem'? I was very pleased that I had adequately conveyed the miracle of Creation, when one of my students answered 'evolution'.
I highly recommend Rabbi Slifkin's book The Science of Torah, for anyone interested in the interface between science and Torah, between the physical world of Hashem's marvelous creation and the spiritual Truth with which it was created.