July 20, 2024
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I wish to applaud Rabbi Jachter’s article in The Jewish Link of Oct. 12 entitled “The First Creation and Why It Matters.” In that article the rabbi very eruditely summarized a scientific basis for the first creation (as per Rashi) in Bereishit, i.e., “Let there be light.” Not to go into all the details here, but the rabbi pointed out that the creation of light refers to a burst of energy which matches the modern science Big Bang Theory and how it led to the formation of mass and the development of creation.

It was refreshing to read the article as it articulates, in my opinion, that modern science and the Bible are largely consistent on the topic of creation, as to the order of species. We are all very familiar with the age-old debate about evolution of mankind. There is the scientific narrative (notably Charles Darwin, author of “On the Origin of Species” and others), versus the Biblical narrative in Bereshit Chapter 1, chronicling God’s creation of the heavens and earth in six days.

However, despite their historic and seemingly intransigent differences, the two frameworks of thought are not as different in their basic message as they may appear. For example, as to the order of creation, they synchronize astonishingly well. Without going into much scientific detail, each “side” posits (following the creation of light/Big Bang Theory) as follows: the Torah reveals that on the third day God created the seas, land and vegetation (Bereishit 9-13). The scientific theories largely agree.

ln the Phanerozoic era, (beginning 539 million years ago) science heralds the beginning of early sea life (sponges, corals and sea anemones). To have any sea life it is axiomatic that the seas have appeared on earth (to support the sea life, simple forms as they were). Those life supporting waters in scientific thought are widely known as the “primordial soup,” meaning they were rich in a mixture of organic compounds and chemicals that supported the development of life. There were also scientific accounts of the formation of terra firma, with vegetation covering the land and seed-bearing plants. (See similar account in Bereishit 1-:L1 of God’s creation of “herbage yielding seed” in Bereishit 1:11.)

What about the dinosaurs? Here they come, on the fifth day, and it’s very fascinating to see the prescience of the Torah, reciting the creation of what are ostensibly the dinosaurs, and in the very same pasuk, as the divine creation of the birds (“winged fowl”). This step too is largely in sync with modern archaeological science which points to the now broadly accepted notion that birds evolved from a dinosaur ancestry. Notice in Bereishit 1:21 that birds are mentioned in the same pasuk but in the latter space of the pasuk, which implies that they are related to the reptilians that came after them. The pasuk reads, “And God created the great sea-giants and every living creature that creeps, with which the waters teemed after their kinds; and all winged fowl of every kind…” The word for sea monsters is “taninim gedolim,” great sea monsters. (An interesting side note: tanin is also the word in the Torah for snakes in Shemot 7:8 involving the story of Moshe and Aaron turning their rods into snakes at Pharaoh’s court.)

The science of evolution likewise states that during the era of the dinosaurs (and other insects, fish and amphibians) that approximately 200 million years ago came the great extinction event which eradicated all of the dinosaurs but not the birds. Large flightless birds evolved and modern bird groups diversified. The main point here being that dinosaurs (taanim gedolim and its kind) and other sea creatures dominated, along with “winged fowl” under both the biological theory of evolution as well as what is stated in the Torah.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fascinating modern scientific fact that the genus of animal classification known as “archosaurs” broadly includes both dinosaurs and birds. Birds and crocodilians are the only surviving representatives of this grouping. It is no coincidence but truly amazing to note that these very same types of beings were also created together in the Torah, as stated in Bereishit 1:21, created on Day 5.

For the sake of brevity, I will just say that the parallel pattern of the order of species continues, with mammalian creatures evolving next and finally humans (“homo erectus”). Again the parallel to the Torah holds. Bereishit next heralds the creation of “cattle and beast of the Earth (Bereishit 1:24) and ultimately and finally we human types, Adam and Eve., “male and female He created them” (Bereishit 1:27), or “homo erectus” in the scientific community.

It’s taken a while, but it seems that modern science is finally catching up to our ancient Torah scrolls.

Shalom,
Sam Z. Mallin, Esq
Chatham, New Jersey

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