Dr Zvi Aviner, 2019
© 2019 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Genesis Vs Evolution:
How did Moses know so much?
Class 2: The CREATOR
We have already began our comparison between Moses’ Genesis and our Scientific knowledge of the History of the Universe. The stakes are high- if we CAN match the two, then WOW! Who told him the story? If we can’t, then we have also discredited the rest of Moses’ revelation! So far, we’ve seen that
- Moses Genesis resembles Science by being factual, counting events with no dramatic clash, jealousy, killing, sexual perversion among gods. You can’t parade in the streets with excitement telling everyone about the good news.
- Moses’s Genesis, like Science, recognizes order in Nature – some elements and creatures were created first and others followed in a logical way. This we can’t say about any myth of his time
- Moses’ Genesis, like Science, describes a Beginning to the Universe. Something that other traditions and philosophies- as recently as in medieval time-have doubted
- Moses’ Genesis, like science, CAN be seen to agree about the age of the Universe – around 13 billion years (calculated by kabbalah). -something you can’t say about any myth of his time..
Let’s proceed with our comparison. Moses introduces in Chapter One three topics– the CREATOR, His CREATION and Man. They are interconnected. In the next three classes we’ll ask-
- Can Moses’ perception of a CREATOR be matched with our Scientific perception of Him (if any) ?
- Can Moses’ account of the Six Days CREATION be matched with our Scientific narrative about the History of the Universe?
- Can we Moses’ account of the birth of Man be matched with our Scientific knowledge?
The CREATOR As Perceived by Science
The Art of Science, as a study of Nature, can’t say much about a CREATOR – who is by definition a Supernatural entity. Many scientists deny the existence of any CREATOR. The Evolution, they say, has taken place by a mere chance, governed by natural selection and adaptation. Most prominent scientists, however, from Newton to Einstein to the founders of Quantum Physics and Modern Genetics, have arrived at a conclusion that this Universe was made by some sort of intelligence. You see the fingertips of this intelligence, for instance, in the natural laws and in the way our body is built. What is the DNA if not a strip of a biological computer? Could this develop by chance? No way! Take our eyes for instance- it is obvious that whoever made it must have known the laws of optics, electronics and engineering. Modern Quantum Physics teaches that our Universe is based – literally speaking- on Consciousness. The electrons spin in a direction dictated by the observer!
Yet even those scientists who recognize a Smart CREATOR, would still reject any notion that this aloof “Primary Mover” has any interest in our human affairs. The Universe is vast, consisting of billions and billions galaxies. The size of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is so large that it would take 100,000 years for a light ray to cross it from side to side! Our sun and her planets occupy just a tiny spot on the tail of our galaxy. Every day new stars and planets are born and other die in spectacular explosions- Nova. How can anyone believe that the CREATOR of this vast Universe would have any interest in our daily lives? Would He/She care if I drink beer or covet my neighbors? No way! So argue the skeptical scientists.
The CREATOR- As perceived by Moses
Moses concurs with the scientists that not only we have a CREATOR , but also with the notion that He made the CREATION with wisdom.
Moses actually introduces GOD as a CREATOR, saying –
“In the Beginning (Be-reishit, “the head of the events”) GOD created the Heavens and earth” (Genesis 1;1).
For Moses, CREATION is a testimony for the existence of a CREATOR-GOD
And GOD is manifested by His CREATION; and His Ways are shown by CREATION. .
What does it mean?
Two Names for the CREATOR
Let’s be careful with the terms. We are all familiar with the two Holy Names for GOD that appear throughout the Bible – GOD and LORD. They introduced the first time in Genesis Chapter One – and therefore are defined by it For we have a rule of thumb that wherever a new concept or name appears the first time in the Torah’s text, there you’d find its definition by the Torah. For instance –
If you want to understand the term GOD, look at Genesis Chapter One Verse One where it appears the first time. .
If you want to understand the term Israel, look at the first time it appears- when the angel changes Jacob’s name to Israel.
How then does Genesis Chapter One defines the terms GOD and LORD? .
GOD – the All mighty
The title GOD is the English translation of the Hebrew term EeLoHiM (in short ELKM, omitting the vowels to avoid mentioning His Name in vain. ).
The Name ELKM refers to the “All Powerful, Capable, Master of all Forces” -in short: The All Mighty. The term GOD (ELKM) appears 32 times during the Six Days, the most dense in the Torah. No other Chapter mentions ELKM so often. Tradition says that this is to show that GOD’S Might is reflected by Nature. ( The numerical value of “EeLoHiM – where a is 1, b is 2 , 30 is L and so on- comes out 86, which is also the numerical value for the Hebrew Ha-Teva,”The Nature.” This indicates that ELKM is manifested by Nature.)
This does not mean that ELKM is Nature. It only means that the Infinite CREATOR is manifested in Nature as ELKM. We’ll soon see more closely what this statement means. .
The other tile LORD refers to description of GOD as MERCIFUL, COMPASSIONATE and FORGIVING. The term LORD is the English translation of the Hebrew word for “My Master” – AaDoNai. Hence the term LORD is only a respectful substitute for the Holy Name of Four Letters – Y*H*V*H – which cannot and should not be pronounced . Since it is an Acronym (which we’ll elaborate in dues course) it should be pronounced as such, letter by letter, as you’d pronounce C*B*S, C*N*N, A*B*C.
Unlike the term GOD-ELKM which appears 32 times during the Six Days in Chapter One, the term LORD-Y*H*V*H appears only once in the entire story of Genesis – and only at the end of the Sixth Day, as it enters the Sabbath. Moreover, it appears there in connection to the creation of Adam.
IN Chapter 2- the story of Eden – the verse elaborates, saying
“And LORD-GOD (YHVH-ELKM) formed the Adam from the dust on the ground (Genesis 2: 4)
Here the Names LORD and GOD appear Side by Side forming Adam. Note that they would never again appear in the text so close to each other as it is here.
These Names refer to the CREATOR’S Attributes
The Names GOD (ELKM) and LORD (YHVH) do no describe the CREATOR’S Essence. We, humans, cannot comprehend the CREATOR’S Essence. It is beyond our conception. But we can grasp of Him according to His Actions. At one time He may show us as a JUDGE, sitting on the Throne of Judgment, and at another time He may exercise His MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS. Or at another time He may reveal Himself as our SAVIOR. We therefore know Him only through His Attributes.
The Names GOD (ELKM) and LORD (YHVH) refer to the CREATOR’S Attributes. During the Six Days – Moses says – the CREATOR acted as a GOD (ELKM,) sitting on the Thone of Judgment without MERCY. Only before Making Adam, He reveled Himself to the world as LORD (YHVH).
Why do we need to know that?
First, to understand CREATION and the world around us and how it operates.
Secondly, to understand Man. Since Man is made in the Image of the CREATOR, of ELKM and YHVH, we too harbor similar attribute. We too can be judgmental or merciful, compassionate and forgiving. we CAN emulate both Attributes (and more)
Moses wrote the story of Genesis for us, to understand ourselves- how we are built and for what purpose.
But first we need to find out if his words are credible, if his description of Genesis does match what we know form science.
Since we are going to focus now on the Six Days, which were created by GOD (ELKM), let’s discuss this Name. Later we’ll discuss LORD as we learn about Adam
GOD (ELKM) Ways
The Thirteen Attributes of GOD (ELKM)
Moses introduces GOD (ELKM) along with CREATION. In this context, The Attribute ELKM can be described by the folowing 13 features-
1.GOD (ELKM) is the Ultimate Power.
This is self understood. There is NO POWER but Him.
2. GOD (ELKM) is Wise
As we’ve said, Moses concurs with the scientists that GOD created the Heavens and the Earth by Wisdom.
A hint for this is given in the first verse, saying
“in the Beginning (In the head of the events) GOD created the Heavens and the Earth”i
The Hebrew word selected here for the Beginning, “Head of events,” suggests that the CREATOR used “His Head” – or the Wisdom in His Head – to create the Heavens and the Earth (Midrash). Because of that verse (and others) we bless GOD daily for “creating our bodies in Wisdom.”
For the scientists, this is all we may say about the CREATOR- that He has initiated everything and that He/She is Wise. But for Moses, this statement is only a Beginning. GOD is more than the Powerful, Wise CREATOR.
3. GOD(ELKM) is a Builder
In Genesis Chapter One, Moses presents GOD (ELKM) as a BUILDER of a Six Floors Building – our Universe. Each “Day of CREATION” comprises a Floor.
One implication is that as a BUILDER, GOD (ELKM) had a Master-Plan which He followed. The Days are interconnected, for a goal. What is this goal? The Chapter says it at its end, as we’ll see in due course. .
4. GOD (ELKM) is Precise and efficient
Not only He is a BUILDER, but an efficient and precise. He “measures” and assesses thing. He set up the Natural Laws that are to be followed precisely. Our Universe is ‘elegant and precise’, the scientists say. Just change the charge of the electron, and you’d get another Universe.
5. GOD (ELKM) is Kind, the Ultimate Provider
As Powerful as He is, GOD (ELKM) is also KIND. He is the Ultimate Provider who takes care of His creatures. He is the One Who Provides them with all they need to thrive and survive in their habitat Thus,
- He gave the vegetation born on the Third Day the talent to photo synthesize
2. He gave the fish born on the Fifth Day the gills and fins to swim and thrive on the vegetation
3. He gave the birds born later on the Fifth Day wings to soar then dive into the water to catch fish
4. He gave the crocodiles born later on the Fifth Day the talents to escape inland, fool the birds and prey on it
5. He gave the cattle born on the Sixth Day the talent to digest vegetation
6. He gave the beasts born later on the Sixth Day the talent to prey on the cattle
7. He gave the crawling creatures born later on the Sixth Day the talent to bite and prey on everything created before
- 8. He gave Adam born on the Sixth Day the tools and talent to thrive in our habitat
7. GOD (ELKM) is The JUDGE
The true meaning of the Hebrew word EeLoHiM is JUDGE. Even a human judge is called elohim. Thus it says “EeLoHiM you should not curse, and a prince of your people you should not curse” (Exodus 22: 27) Here Moses refers to a human judge as elohim. There are many similar examples.
Note that the English term “GOD” lacks this specific meaning of the Hebrew “ELKM: as a JUDGE. .
GOD (ELKM) appears as a JUDGE during the Six Days. On every Day of CREATION (besides the 2nd) GOD (ELKM) “came:: at the end of the Day and judged it to see whether it was good or not. He acted not only as a Powerful, Wise BUILDER but also as a JUDGE. If the Floor He checked was found “good,” He allowed it to live and He built another Floor, another Day on top of it. In the BUILDER’S eyes, being good means being viable, strong enough to support another Floor on top of it. Being good also means that the passing Day fit the Master-Plan. Being good also meant that THE BUILDER GOD was “Pleased.”
All these terms would play a role in Adam’s trial by ELKM. Adam too is required to be good, strong enough to support another Day, fit ELKM’s Plan and please Him. Remember, we are talking about ELKM (GOD) not about YHVH (LORD)
An important implication of GOD (ELKM) as a JUDGE is that he World was created to withstand His JUDGMENT. This iswhy the Jewish New Year- considered the Annual Anniversary of CREATION- is a Day of Universal JUDGMENT of all creautres.
8. GOD (ELKM) JUDGES by ABSOLUTE JUSTICE
What criteria does GOD (ELKM) follow for His JUDGMENT?
Unlike LORD, the term GOD (ELKM0 refers to the CREATOR when He follows Absolute Justice alone, paying attention to no other moral argument. Specifically, He pays no attention to MERCY. He seeks the Absolute TRUTH and nothing but truth. . His Nickname is TRUTH (emeth) and so is His “Signature”. Whenever you see His Name in the Torah’ s text it is signature of truthfulness.
Hence, during the Six Days, GOD (ELKM) created the Word with Absolute Justice yet no MERCY. Indeed- would you find any MERCY in Nature? Does the spider, the volcano, the lion or the snake know any mercy? Even if they evolve into smart society, these creatures would never, never, ever perceive mercy, compassion and forgiveness. (The mothers carrng for their little ones act by natural reflex to preserve the species. Their behavior is the nucleus of Mercy in Man.)
9: GOD (ELKM) pays “measure for measure”
When we say that GOD (ELKM) followed, during the Six Days, the Absolute Justice, we actually mean that He acted ‘measure for measure’ (mida be mida) . Under this sort of reign, creatures eat because they are eaten. They inflict pains and then suffer pains. A lion prey on a lamb. only to go out in the wood and die from a fallen tree. .
The law “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” (Exodus 32: 15) reflects the Absolute Justice of “measure for measure.” The text specifically says that the Law was ‘written by the Finger of GOD (ELKM).” The the Merciful Attribute YHVH (Oral Torah) says otherwise – that the punishment would be monetary compensation only.
10 .GOD’s (ELKM) judgment is harsh
During the Six days CREATION, GOD (ELKM) ruled by Absolute Justice and His Verdicts are seen harsh and merciless. But He is “right”- He gives life, and therefore may take life away in Absolute Justice, following the rule of “measure for “measure for measure.” .
Thus \when GOD (ELKM) judged each Day- each Floor- and said that it was good, the option was that He could have said that it was NOT good. in fact, tradition is (says Rashi) that during the Sixth Day He did say on occasions that it was NOT good. .
The Judgment was made at the transition between the Days.
If the passing Day was found good, He allowed it to live and enter the next Day.
But if it was NOT god anymore in His eyes- the BUILDER’S eyes- He eliminated it and started again.
Thus if the creatures on one Day would not support the next Day, they were eliminated WITH NO MERCY.
11. GOD (ELKM) Created the World Awesomely Alone
During the Six Days,GOD (ELHM) created the world and ruled over it “awesomely alone.” It means that He entertained no other moral argument besides the Absolute Justice. This would change before making Adam.
Thus during the Six Days He acted as a “Dictator.” He gave ‘commands’ that were fulfilled with no objection or rejection. No one would have dared to disobey His world.
Thus, He said “Let there be Light” And Light happened.
He said “Let there be grass” and grass was there.
He said “Let the Luminaries be seen regularly on Earth” and they were.
He said “Let there be Fish in the waters,” and they were.
And so on.
But before making Adam He changed His rule and said, in plural, “Let Us Make Adam in Our Form and Our mage.”
He Consulted other entities to make Adam. He was a Dictator no more. .
With whom could He consult to make Adam? Who is greater than Him?
On that we’ll learn when we read Chapter One about Adam. . .
12. GOD (ELKM) ‘fills’ Nature
Where is GOD (ELKM)? Above? Below?
Since His Name appears in the story of Genesis 32 times, a number written as Lb (heart in Hebrew) we can say that He “resides” at the “Heart of Nature.”
From here, Kabbalah refers to GOD (ELKM) as the Power that FILLS the Universe,” as the Heart (blood) that fills the body.
13 GOD (ELKM) judgment is like water
The second verse in Genesis says “And the wind (spirit?) of ELoHiM was hovering over the waters…” (Genesis 1:2) implying that –
1. ELHM’s Throne of Judgment hovers over the waters
2. ELHM would use Water as a whip, as in Noah’s Flood
3.ELHM’s Justice penetrates everything like water.
4. ELHM’s justice is even and equal to all, like water’s surface.
ELKM weights our deeds on His scale:
Our merits are on one side, our sins on the other.
The tilt of the scale determines whether we are –
Righteous, if the scale has tilted in our favor.
Sinners (wicked) If the scale has tilted against us.
Thus “righteous” and “wicked” (Tzadik and Rasha) are terms that describe Verdicts rather then character. (Evil is in YHVH eyes)
Only nNow that we’ve delineated the virtues of the term GOD (ELKM), we are ready to compare Moses’ Genesis to our Science. Do they match?