Thursday, November 4, 2010

Discovering Design High Above

In a previous post Discovering Design Deep Down, we discussed several scientific "proofs" which have gone "poof". Scientists believed that life could not exist without the sun's energy, yet recently life was discovered on the ocean floor. Science believed in a Static/Steady State world, yet now they believe in the Big Bang.

In a recent post on the Seforim Blog, I was amazed to see following words penned by an academic:

Later, in Gen. 22:17, he is told that his descendants will be as numerous as the sand and as the stars in the heaven. Centuries ago I think many people must have wondered about this verse. They could understand the promise that his descendants would be like the sand since the sand is so numerous it can’t be counted. Yet how is this comparable to the stars, since anyone can look up at the sky and see that there aren’t that many stars at all? Thus, pre-modern man should have been troubled since the two parts of the verse don’t correspond, even though they are supposed to. It is only with the invention of telescopes that people could see that the two parts of this verse, the sand and the stars, are really saying the same thing. Scientists now believe that the amount of stars runs into the sextillions and that there are more stars than grains of sand on the earth!

What amazes me is that the rationalists of yesteryear would look at the traditionalists as being overly fundamentalist in insisting that there are a myriad of stars because of the implication from the scriptures. Yet today everyone would agree that the stars are too numerous to count.

This gives me pause every time I see an academic insist that Chazal were mistaken about one thing or another.


  1. I like Gen 22:17, you are so right. I also think the Christian distorted alot of the ancient old Jewish testaments, they adopted the ancient Jewish old testament and in their bibles, they reworded some of the books. I think this is sad, because so many adopted the ancient Jewish old testament and did not read all of this, and the ones that did read all of it, they twisted the enriched true information.

  2. I haven't seen the comment in context, but I'll quibble anyway. Seems the commenter has never seen the night sky away from light pollution. If one spends a clear night far out in the wilderness (deep in the Sinai, or even the SW corner of New Mexico), the sky suddenly appears absolutely filled with stars. Most of this isn't seen by folks in places like NYC. One glimpse of this overwhelming sight, and it is never forgotten. The avot lived in a world without the light pollution common in every town today. They indeed knew what the night sky really looks like, and how obviously uncountable the stars are.

  3. But yet the Ralbag (see current post), who is known in the world of astronomy, posited that there were no more than approximately 9,000 stars.

  4. How do the Mefarsmhim and Chazal explain this pasuk? Do they say it is referring to the number of the stars or the influence of the stars (or both)?


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