Generous Orthodoxy  

Monday, October 10, 2005

Science and religion controversy: two good letters to The New York Times

To the Editor:

The Book of Genesis was never meant to be a scientific treatise. A literal reading of Genesis might lead one to conclude that the world is less than 6,000 years old and that the Grand Canyon could have been carved by the global flood 4,500 years ago. Since this is impossible, a literal reading of Genesis must be wrong.

A person who denies the facts converts faith into fantasy.

Science and religion are companions, not antagonists. Religion can never conflict with science. Science is about what is, religion is about what should be. Science is about how we got here. Religion is about why we got here. Darwin asked how did the species evolve. He never intended to propose why the species evolved.

Genesis speaks in metaphors and on many different levels, as does the rest of the Bible. To restrict our understanding to the narrowest and most literal interpretation is to underestimate the timelessness of the Bible and to overestimate our own abilities.

Ammiel Hirsch
New York, Oct. 6, 2005
The writer is senior rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

To the Editor:

When I was a sixth grader in a Roman Catholic school, the teacher, a nun, asked our opinion about creation. I suggested that when the Bible says that God created our world and the universe in six days, maybe God's days were different from our days and that each of God's days lasted millions of years. To my surprise, she agreed with me.

Most Christians would agree that God is omniscient and all-powerful, and that his ways are at times mysterious. If they truly believe that, why is it so difficult to accept that God allowed life to unfold slowly, that man as part of life evolved, and that geological and biological processes may have taken billions of years?

Tim Boland
Lake Stevens, Wash., Oct. 6, 2005