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When Judaism Meets Science

 

“a rare masterpiece”
– Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, HUC

“careful research, passionate analysis, and good sense”
– Rabbi David Teutsch, RRC

“clear, engaging”
– Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, Sinai and Synapses

“a tremendous tome”
– Rabbi Wayne Dosick, SpiritTalk Live!

“an absolutely fascinating book”
– Rabbi Richard Address, Jewish Sacred Aging

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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Wise Ones of Covid Gubernia and the Wearing of Masks

Thursday, April 23, 2020 @ 11:04 AM
posted by Roger Price

Covid Gubernia was an area in the Old Country. Between the harsh winters, the poverty, and the poor nutrition, the people were quite pallid, so much so that where they lived was sometimes called the Pale. And, yet, despite all of their challenges, they were a good people, with the dignity that comes from working hard and trying to live a decent life. For that alone, they were worthy of honor, or koved  in their old language.  (Some even say the name of the area was based on the word koved.)

Perhaps as a result of their worthiness, the people were blessed on occasion with Wise Ones, for which they were exceptionally grateful. Other towns claimed to have wise ones as well, and maybe they did, but the Wise Ones of Covid Gubernia were the wisest of the wise.

One reason Covid Gubernia had so many Wise Ones was that it welcomed thoughtfulness from many sources. In some areas, it seems, people only followed the words that came from their main village and would not heed the words from the countryside. Even sillier, some listened only to male voices, as if female voices had no wisdom to share. Because they never knew who would speak wisely until the speakers spoke, the ears of the residents of Covid Gubernia were open to wisdom from all sources.

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“When Judaism Meets Science” at Beth Emet

Sunday, April 19, 2020 @ 11:04 AM
posted by Roger Price
Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue

Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue is a Reform congregation in Evanston, Illinois. In November, 2019, it hosted an interview of Roger Price, author of When Judaism Meets Science. The interview was conducted in front of a live audience by David Graham, then a litigator and partner with the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. Previously, Graham was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and more recently, and repeatedly, was designated a “Best Lawyer” in commercial litigation. For several years, he also served as president of Beth Emet.

The program begins with a brief introduction by Marci Dickman, Beth Emet’s Director of Lifelong Learning. For the next forty–five minutes, Graham’s questions and Price’s responses cover a number of issues discussed in Price’s book, including the distinctive approaches of science and religion, the roles each plays today, the challenge of science to religion on matters such as the Passover story and genetically modified crops, the reaction of segments of the community to science’s challenges to religion, the problem with cognitive biases, and the need for critical thinking. Audience questions followed, and extended the discussion for another forty–five minutes. During this segment, comments were made concerning boundaries, abortion, the anthropic principle, the purpose of the Torah text, prayer as quotation and as affirmation, the need for humility, and the impact of writing a book. The entire session is available here, without editing or commercials: https://soundcloud.com/bethemet/roger-price

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Coronavirus, the Halakha, and the Council of Experts

Monday, March 30, 2020 @ 04:03 PM
posted by Roger Price
Credit: cdc.gov

Guest Essay by The Freehof Institute for Progressive Halakha

At this writing, the COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Tough measures are being taken around the world to deal with the disease, whether to contain or to mitigate its spread, and to attempt to cushion its economic impact. Travel restrictions and quarantines are in effect in North America and Israel; schools and universities have moved to online instruction; large public gatherings have been banned. This crisis is a test of our ability, as individuals and as communities, to come together to do what is necessary to preserve the public health and to calm the rising fear that many are feeling.

Is there a particularly halakhic insight that might be helpful to us at this time?

It is well known, of course, that one of the primary values in Jewish legal thought is pikuaḥ nefesh , the preservation of human life, which overrides almost every other religious duty.1 From this mitzvah to save life, it follows that we must heed the advice and counsel of physicians and all others who are particularly qualified to diagnose, evaluate, and remedy dangers to human health. We read in the Mishnah (Yoma 8:5): “a person who is ill on Yom Kippur is fed according to the instruction of experts.” In other words, the mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur, one of the most seriously-felt duties of the religious Jew, is suspended when the experts – Rambam, in his Commentary to the Mishnah, identifies them as “qualified physicians” – declare that the patient must eat to maintain his or her health. All this would seem obvious: if pikuaḥ nefesh is important enough to set aside even the most stringent prohibitions of the Torah, it’s reasonable that we ought to rely upon qualified experts to tell us just when life and health are endangered and what we need to do to alleviate that danger.

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Judeology Explores “When Judaism Meets Science”

Monday, March 2, 2020 @ 04:03 PM
posted by Roger Price

Judeology is a website dedicated to sparking Judaism “through science, technology, and the arts.” Recently it posted a podcast about what happens when Judaism meets science. One of the things that is unique about this podcast is that the host, Yaakov Schefres, is not a rabbi but an aerospace engineer. Over the course of just over a half hour, Yaakov and I engage in a wide ranging discussion about the different approaches and techniques of religion and science with respect to the big questions of the day. We talk about faith in religion and confidence in science, as well as about the evolution of Judaism and self–correction in science. We also explore descriptions of the Biblical text as history, science, an ethical guide, and a community bond. Finally, we address some contemporary issues, including abortion, assisted fertility techniques, and artificial intelligence.


I hope you enjoy this discussion. Of course, if you want to learn more, the book “When Judaism Meets Science” is available at your local etailer.


For now, listen here: https://www.yaakovschefres.com/judeology/

Rabbi Wayne Dosick explores “When Judaism Meets Science”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 @ 10:10 AM
posted by Roger Price
Rabbi Wayne Dosick

RABBI WAYNE DOSICK is the host of, among other programs, SpiritTalk Live!: Journeys into Mind, Heart, and Soul, a weekly Internet radio program, heard on HealthyLife.net. There he leads conversations about the “great questions of existence, in a quest to find meaning and worth in life, though intellectual inquiry and sacred spirit.” His conversation with author Roger Price concerning the latter’s new book, When Judaism Meets Science, can be heard on the following podcast:http://healthylifenet.mainstreamnetwork.com/media/STL082119.mp3

Rabbi Dosick is also an author of eight books and hundreds of essays and columns in Jewish periodicals. Teaching and counselling about matters of faith and spirit, ethical values, life transformations, and evolving human consciousness, he has spoken and conducted seminars, workshops, and has been a scholar-in-residence at more than 200 bookstores, synagogues, churches, schools, universities, hospitals and health care facilities, businesses and corporations, and community organizations throughout the country. Articles about Rabbi Dosick and his books have appeared in more than 90 newspapers and periodicals, and he has been interviewed on more than 150 radio and television shows, including “Good Morning America,” the Larry King Show, CNN, and NPR. More information about Rabbi Dosick can be obtained here: https://sites.google.com/site/rabbiwaynedosick/.

When Judaism Meets Science can be purchased from various etailers, including Amazon, and also from the publisher, Wipf and Stock.

To Frack or Not to Frack: Is that a Jewish Question?

Sunday, August 4, 2013 @ 09:08 AM
posted by Roger Price

 

Did you know that fracking, the industrial process of extracting natural gas from shale rock is treif, that it violates Jewish values? Who knew? You could read the entire Torah, study the Mishnah and Gemara too, go through the commentaries of the rationalist Maimonides and the more mystical Nachmanides, and review Joseph Caro’s Shulchan Aruch and you will never once see the technology discussed, much less the word uttered. And yet, there are Jewish individuals and organizations that insist that fracking is so contrary to Jewish values that it must be banned.

What is fracking anyhow?

Before we drill down a bit into the Jewish aspects of these arguments, let’s take a moment to review some basic facts about fracking. Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking or fracking) is a method of drilling for gas trapped in shale rock formations deep in the earth. The process has been utilized in the United States for over sixty years, but recent advances in technology have both led to new discoveries of huge reservoirs, or basins, of potentially recoverable natural gas in a large number of areas across the continental United States and allowed gas drillers to go deeper into the ground and also farther horizontally to recover that gas. read more

Science and Judaism: Biblical Numbers, Mathematics and Attributed Patriarchal Ages

Sunday, January 22, 2012 @ 01:01 PM
posted by Roger Price

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Roger Price

The Hebrew Bible is filled with numbers. There are different kinds of numbers — cardinals and ordinals, integers and fractions, even primes. And they are everywhere in the Torah text.

There are numbers for days. (See, e.g., Gen. 1:5, 8, 13.)

There are numbers for life spans. (See, e.g., Gen. 5:5, 8, 11.)

There are numbers for populations, i.e., census numbers.  (See, e.g., Ex. 1:5, 12:37; Num. 1:46, 2:32.)

There are numbers for the measurement of quantities. (See, e.g., Ex. 16:22, 36, 29:40.)

And for sizes. (See, e.g., Gen. 6:15.)

There are numbers for the duration of events. (See, e.g., Ex. 12:40, 24:18.)

There are numbers for a host of seemingly mundane things, such as the number of visitors and the number of palm trees. (See, e.g., Gen. 18:2; Ex. 15:27.) read more

The Big Bang: Science, Death and the Unknown

Thursday, December 15, 2011 @ 02:12 PM
posted by Robert Magrisso, M.D.

            Suddenly, Einstein lifted his head, looked upward at the clear skies and said: “We know nothing about it all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of school children.” “Do you think we shall ever probe the secret?” “Possibly we shall know a little more than we now know, but . . . .”
R.W. Clark, The Life and Times of Albert Einstein (Avon, 1971).

            One of the very few textbooks that remain from college is my Halliday and Resnick Physics for Students of Science and Engineering. On its side remain, in very faint but still readable pencil, the words “Physics is a fraud,” which I wrote as a freshman. It was the culmination of one of the first of a long series of ambivalent encounters that I have had over the years with science. I wrote those words as an act of blasphemy and liberation towards what was then, essentially, disillusionment with my first religion: physics. I majored in physics in college not so much for practical knowledge as under the presumption that I was dealing with truth, and not just simple truths, but ultimate Truth. To me, attending lectures, doing the experiments, learning the mathematics, reading the books and doing the problems was equivalent to Talmud study.Newton, Einstein, Bohr, Maxwell, Planck, Heisenberg, Galileo  . . .  these were the prophets. Feynman was our hero. read more

Science and Judaism: The Strange Claim of Dr. Schroeder (Part II)

Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 10:10 PM
posted by Roger Price

In a prior post (10/18/11), we started to look at Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s argument in The Science of God (“TSOG”)(rev. ed. 2009) that the six biblical days of creation and the billions of years of the evolution of the universe as measured by scientists actually occurred over the same time period. Our focus was on Schroeder’s interpretation of certain biblical passages that he believes show that time is treated differently before and after the creation of Adam. (See, e.g., TSOG, at 52, 54.)

Now we are going to address that part of Schroeder’s argument that rests of physics and mathematics. In the concluding post of this series, we will review the conclusion of Schroeder’s conflation argument. read more

Have Some Lost Their Yiddishe Kups?

Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 02:09 PM
posted by Roger Price

JPAC Anti-Evolution Exhibit 9-20-11

 

   The picture above first appeared yesterday, to my knowledge, on www.failedmessiah.com. Apparently, the sponsoring group, whose members I suspect do not read this blog, also issued a public relations piece, which follows replete with all original typos: read more