Rabbi Breitowitz, former professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, recently gave a speech about the difference between religion and science. In it, he attempted to distinguish between two types of realities as explained from two perspectives: religion and science. However, he begins with a faulty premise by claiming that religion and science address two different types of realities: one the “what” (science) and one the “why” (religion). These types are vague claims and not knew. What is “type”? Those who believe in evolution as the explanation of origins also make such a claim while using the claims of science. This claim creates a bifurcation with reality – that is what exists, and runs in conflict with Torah itself.
Here is the link to Rabbi Breitowitz’s speech video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hvrv94sl-Lw
At the beginning of Torah, its reads,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
This claim is not a type of reality separate and distinct from the “type of reality” of science. Rather it is a true explanation of reality and does not run counter to science. It affirms:
- The material world
- The material world began and was not eternal
- God existed before any time-space beginning
- God created what exists
Science does not have its own reality nor addresses a particular type of reality. Science does not have the thinking capacity or will to address anything let alone reality. People think and will. Second, it is a false comparison to posit religion against science or more specifically Torah against science. God created both, not as two separate sources or explanations of two separate realities but as affirming one another.
Science cannot affirm or dis-affirm any reality, because science (or a better term “the sciences”) consists of mechanisms or tools man created to examine the material world and to make sense of it through interpretation. There are many sciences (meteorology, archaeology, anatomy, biology, etc.). Each deals with a segment of existence.
A large part of science is the human mind, because without it there would be no means for developing the tools, mechanisms, and methods used as science to explore and interpret what exist. That is, science would not exist apart from the living being known as man or woman. Science is often used in a vague manner as THE way individuals explain what exist. However, the explanation and interpretation of data does not come from science but from individuals. Therefore, science (or the sciences) does not explain anything or interpret data. People do. However, frequently, pseudo-scientists or even scientists misleadingly conflate the mechanism and the interpreter, making them one and the same. This is a false approach.
Second, it is false to set up religion versus science and then claim they address two realities. There is only one reality – that which exists. Religion and science are not true opposites addressing two realities. To make them so is a logical fallacy. Just as science does not address a reality, in that it cannot think, religion cannot do this either. Religion, just like science, is not a living and thinking being but simply a metaphor known as a metonymy. That is, it represents that which it describes.
For example, people often speak of a head of a nation as the “crown.” The head of a nation is not a crown, but the crown is a representative symbol for that person – a metonymy. However, those who refer to science or religion as being able to do this or that or give evidence or claim certain things as true naively fail to distinguish the thing from the symbol (metonymy) that represents it. In doing so, they raise a deception and a logical fallacy while misleading people into accepting the thing itself as an authoritative living entity (that is, science is the living authority). The deception is that the one who commits this fallacy is setting himself up as the unquestioned authority. In doing so, there are no hypotheses, theories, speculations, or guesses but simply unquestioned fact.
Third, religion and science both have their origins in and through the minds of individuals. People examine specific areas of what exist and give that discipline a name, such as anatomy, biology, astronomy, and so on. Those names did not exist prior to the minds of individuals. It is false to claim that because the material world existed before humanity, that the sciences that described it existed in tandem. Individuals created the mechanisms and methods of discovery.
They did not suddenly appear with the material world. Therefore, to make the claim that science proves something or that science proves God does not exist or cannot prove God exist is conflating a metaphor and the individual interpreter and in essence makes
the individual an impersonal metaphor.
Rabbi Breitowitz commits this fallacy by positing religion and science as opposites and as describing two separate realities. In doing so, he makes two separate claims, one a false opposite fallacy (religion versus science) and the other a false view of what exists. If there are two realities and we live in one, where and what is the other? There is no other if the Rabbi holds to Torah’s beginning and the claims this beginning statement makes,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Many atheistic scientists reject God and retreat to evolution.
However, evolution is not another reality but a separate explanation of origins. It is no more than a symbolic name associated with origins. It is an explanation that rejects God as the originator of all that exists in the material world. Two explanations actually pose true opposites – that which is true and that which is false or reality and non-reality or fact and fiction. That which is true and that which is false cannot both exist as true, because that would violate the law of non-contradiction, that is, A does not equal non-A.
The difference between the explanations from Torah and a scientific textbook is really that of genre and not different realities. Learned critics often confuse (falsify) or conflate opposites. Genre is the type or form of literary work appropriated. Torah’s genre is narrative and story of historical reality while scientific textbooks are descriptive interpretation of observable historical data. They have one thing in common: historical fact. These approaches are very different but are not in conflict as some theological or scientific critics who reject the Bible wish to lead people to believe. These genres can support one another, such as in anthropological science: relics supporting history. They have indeed done so in biblical archaeology and anthropology.
When reading or listening to a critic of religion or science, such as Rabbi Breitowitz, examine his or her premises and the language used. Are the premises sound? Do they use metaphor or plain speech? Remember, even seemingly plain speech is metaphor, because it seeks to explain something through representation. For example. the crown is only a symbol for the authority it represents. It is also a name given to a combination of metal and jewels, and that name represents that combination. Is the user of specific words applying them correctly or falsifying reality by these words? Deception can arise from falsification. Do not be deceived. The Apostle John wrote,
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
False prophets do not have to be religious. They can also pose as scientists, psychologists, or philosophers bringing a false perspective of reality and attempt to falsify truth.