I’ve written before about the view of God held by Newton and Einstein (and other “Deists”) as compared with the view given by Torah — especially in Hasidut.

It seems worth restating:

Einstein, Newton and others believed that the orderliness of the Universe strongly indicates — or at least suggests — planning and intent. The “orderliness” is evident in the “natural laws” that operate consistently throughout the Universe. It moved them to a kind of “awe.” 

Yet, they doubted — even denied — that this Designer or Creator remained actively involved in Creation after completing it. 

Torah, of course, teaches that God was active in the lives of the patriarchs and matriarchs, and those of the prophets, etc. From this, we’re to draw the implication that God is active in our lives, too; in every generation and location.

It would seem, then, as if the “God of science” is different from the “God of the Bible.” But I think it would an error to draw that conclusion.

Instead, I think of it as a “continuum of perception.” I don’t deny Newton’s or Einstein’s awe or sincerity. Their investigations into natural phenomena was not only “empirical.” It was philosophical, as well. Their work of examining phenomena and expressing their observations changed their cognitive views, as well. Newton declares “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and can find nowhere in the entire Universe where this would not be so. It’s a “law” because it is so pervasive and consistent. That very consistency undercuts any belief that such things came to occur “by accident.”

But they saw these truths in physical phenomena alone.  They didn’t see a pervasive moral law or “law of justice” in which every action has an “equal and opposite” reaction on the moral and spiritual level as well as on the physical. By comparison, the Talmud’s formulation “Midah k’neged Midah” — “measure for measure” — is meant to be no less categorical and universal than Newton’s “law.”

They didn’t consider, as does Hasidut, that the Creator might remain present in Creation. They didn’t consider that “matter” and “spirit” might not be “opposites,” but that “matter” might only be the presentation of spirit visible to the physical eye.

They didn’t consider that we might be continuing to interact with this Creator through our every thought, word and action — as Torah itself declares.

So, I don’t see “science” at odds with “Torah.” 

Rather, I see the observations of science as the first steps in a process of knowing God that goes much farther than Newton or Einstein imagined.

Partly, they were limited by the “technology” they were using: sense-perception and intellect. These could only give them the knowledge that these were designed to provide. The ear, for example, can tell you nothing about the taste of chocolate. The eye can tell you nothing about the odor of a warm, baked pie. Ear and eye have their value, but their functions and the information they can provide are clearly defined and delineated. It is the same with the intellect: it is capable of a great deal, but within a delineated field of activity.

The Divine Presence — which Newton and Einstein could only infer, however sincerely — is experienced more directly through meditation.

Meditation can mean different things; sometimes synonymous with prayer, at other times something more distinct but not unrelated. Turning the attention to God, without personal concern or petition, might best be called “meditation” rather than “prayer,” to distinguish it from addressing God with our needs. It’s a process that involves a very different level of the mind than intellect or sense-perception alone. 

The heart yearns for this, even without knowing what it seeks. 

This yearning, however unarticulated, has led many to seek satisfaction in practicing Yoga, etc. That, in turn, has contributed to the widespread interest in reviving Jewish practices that were otherwise known only through obscure references. 

But again, for educational purposes, I don’t think it has to be taught as “Science vs. Torah (or religion in general).” It can be presented as the perception of God, for which there’s a continuum with multiple degrees of attainment.