Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
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Tuesday, February 04, 2003
 
Tapped is not entirely correct in the belief that even the most Orthodox schools of Judaism are comfortable with evolutionary theory. They quoted a long e-mail sent by an observant Jew who wrote:

Unlike Christianity, Judaism has never really been at odds with science (ie Galileo, Scopes Trial). Even its most orthodox elements (I would know, I go to an orthodox school that brings in Torah/Science speakers) agree with the evidence presented by evolution and big bang theories. In fact, they believe there is evidence in the bible that clearly supports them. And this isn't just in regard to abstract theological argument. I have a friend who's dad is an Astrophysicist and he says there are a solid amount of Orthodox astrophysicists who just believe the more science reveals, the more of God's wonder is shown to man. I mean, even the greatest Jewish scholars of the 13th century were physicians on the side.

What this misses is that it discusses only what is now often called Modern Orthodox, a school which evolved, so to speak, from traditional Rabbinic Judaism, which has a strong rationalist element. Traditional Orthodoxy was founded in ancient legal debates and its greatest teacher, Moses ben Maimonides, was, as the writer points out, a distinguished physician. But the other major school of traditional Judaism,the more mystical Chasidists, don't have equally strong rationalist commitments, and often take a strictly literal fundamentalist approach, as in this letter written by the Lubavitch Rebbe, probably the most famous modern Chasidic teacher, who asserts that scientific extrapolation has at best a probability of reaching the truth and therefore can never be accepted over Torah, which is seen as absolute truth.



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