My said letter does not appeal to “belief”; its premises are scientific, based on my years of scientific study, first at the University of Berlin, and later at Paris. I upheld the possibility of the Creation account in Bereishis [Genesis] on scientific grounds. On the other hand, I pointed out, that the so-called scientific arguments which purport to deny the possibility of the Torah account of Creation are not scientific, since in truth, science does not, and cannot, make such a claim. Moreover, modern science declares that it can never offer an unequivocal scientific solution to this and similar problems.
The reason for this is not that modern science is still incomplete, but rather because of the very nature of science which can never speak in absolute terms; it can only offer working theories and hypotheses.
Science can only examine and classify phenomena, and make probable deductions and predictions. If these are eventually substantiated by experiment, the theories are confirmed as approximate verities. But never can science claim to speak in terms of absolute truths, for it would be a contradiction in itself.
The above is true in all areas of scientific inquiry. When it comes to the theory of evolution, dealing with an effort to reconstruct the distant past, science lacks even that degree of probability which it has in regard to future predictions, as explained at some length in my said letter. Here science can only speculate. If such speculations are represented in textbooks as “facts,” then it is a gross and unscientific misrepresentation.
To cite one illustration: For years the Ptolemaic system was accepted as true, according to which the sun revolves around the earth. Later Copernicus evolved the theory that the earth revolves around the son. This is the theory which is now given in all textbooks as an indisputable fact.
But what are the facts?
Aside from the fact that even the Copernican sun-centered system is no more than a theory, subject to a variety of reservations, as all scientific theories must be apart, also, from the fact that the Copernican theory did not presume to settle all the situations relating to astrophysical observations, but only answered more questions, and more simply, than the Ptolemaic – modern science has reached some revolutionary conclusions in the wake of the General Relativity Theory. Specifically, modern science is now convinced that when two systems are in motion relative to one another, it could never be ascertained, from the scientific viewpoint, as to which is in motion and which at rest, or whether both are in motion. Let it be remembered that the General Relativity Theory has been accepted as fundamental to all exact sciences without dissent.
Yet – and it is surely no revelation to you – this new orientation in science is ignored in discussions relating to the Ptolemaic and Copernican theories on the high school level, but [also by] men in specialized studies of astronomy and physics in colleges and universities. In other words, science in many domains is still taught in terms of a scientific orientation which prevailed at the close of the 19th century, when two cardinal principles of science were yet unknown, namely the Relativity theory, and that all scientific conclusions necessarily belong in the realm of probability, not certainty.
I once asked a professor of science why he did not tell his students that from the viewpoint of the Relativity theory the Ptolemaic system could claim just as much validity as the Copernican. He answered candidly that if he did that, he would lose his standing in the academic world, since he would be at variance with the prevalent legacy from the 19th century. I countered, “What about the moral issue?” The answer was silence.*
In discussing this question with another scientist, he expressed surprise that there should be an individual in the 20th century who could still think that the earth stood still and the sun revolved around it. When I protested that from the viewpoint of modern science this could be as valid as the opposite theory, he could not refute it.
Please excuse the length of the above remarks, which have been prompted by your statement relating to the acceptance or non-acceptance of the concepts expressed in my letter on evolution. I invite your further reactions.
Correspondence from the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the subjects of Creation and science, and the attitudes of scientists, from 1964 C.E.
Source: “L’chaim Weekly,” number 845, Nov. 19, ’04. “L’chaim Weekly,” number 846, Nov. 26, ’04
Dr. Michael Schulman, from Ask Noah International