I found this blog about “proofs” for Judaism, I think would it would be interesting to debunk them.here’s one to start with:http://absolutetruth613.blogspot.com/2012/05/continental-drift.html
Fun submission. Let’s do this!
Continental Drift [as proof of Judaism]
This description is in contrast with the precise picture we have of the earth today, with the oceans surrounding the seven continents: Eurasia, Africa, Australia, Greenland, North America, South America and Antarctica.
Amazingly, the Zohar (12:1) tells us about significant geological changes that took place on Earth after the initial period of creation: “One single continent came out of the water, and from it seven continents were formed.”
Repeating the Biblical image, the Zohar states that at the time of creation, there was only one continent, which later broke up into seven separate continents, which slowly drew apart. At that point, water flowed into the gaps between them to form the various oceans and seas.
On the same subject, the Book of Proverbs (9: 1) offers an enlightening verse: “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out her seven pillars.” According to Rashi, the “house” in this verse is the world, which God built with wisdom.
By juxtaposing Rashi’s explanation with the Zohar’s comments above, we can better understand the second half of the verse: “she has hewn out her seven pillars.” These are the seven continents, hewn asunder from the single, initial continent.
Of course, for centuries, scientists dismissed these Torah statements about the drastic geological changes that took place on Earth as baseless fable…. [but now they promote the idea of continental drift…]
Let us have another look at these events: With the exception of the Creator of the universe, how could anyone have known, thousands of years ago, that at one time, all the continents were comprised in one vast land mass, which subsequently split apart and separated? Furthermore, two thousand years ago, before Europeans had discovered North and South America and Australia, how would men of science have reacted to the Zohar’s statement that there are seven continents on planet Earth?
I guess, once again, they didn’t look at the Handbook of the Universe.
Have a good Shabbos
Where do I even begin?!
Firstly, without even looking at the argument, I already have at least one important response:
1. Getting one prediction right, in a sea of predictions that are wrong, is not impressive. That is, Between the bible, talmud, commentaries, medrash, and kabbalah, one can find a nearly endless amount of predictions and ideas about how the world works - and most are wrong. I can’t be impressed with the argument - that clearly Judaism had divine knowledge about the planet - when the torah itself is so obviously wrong about other parts, like water existing before light, plants before the sun, women from ribs, giant floods, etc. So even if this guy’s argument was powerful - which it isn’t - it still isn’t powerful, cause if you make enough crazy guesses, you’re bound to get some which are right, esp when you write very vaguely so it can be interpreted in many ways. So I don’t find it convincing at all. Not here. Not in Nostradamus. Not in other religions either… though I’m curious what the OP would say to those examples.
But let’s get into the meat of the argument.
2. Right from the start I’m somewhat skeptical about the alleged foreknowledge of these Jewish sages bc it assumes that ancient texts are using the same concepts and terminologies as we do today, and that’s very often not the case. For instance, the torah would define the bat as a bird (x) and a whale as a fish, while modern science would not. My point now isnt to debate whether the torah makes sense in doing it that way, but just to illustrate that quite unsurprisingly, ancient cultures had different frameworks and terminology, so directly equating ancient ideas to modern ones is usually not so cut-and-dry. So when we have an ancient text talking about an idea and term like “continent” I’m already skeptical.
2. Furthermore, to even more strongly illustrate that point, even modern science is somewhat divided on how we define a “continent”! For instance, wiki explains:
By convention, “continents are understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water.” Many of the seven most commonly recognized continents identified by convention are not discrete landmasses separated by water. The criterion “large” leads to arbitrary classification: Greenland, with a surface area of 2,166,086 square kilometres (836,330 sq mi) is considered the world’s largest island, while Australia, at 7,617,930 square kilometres (2,941,300 sq mi) is deemed a continent. Likewise, the ideal criterion that each be a continuous landmass is often disregarded by the inclusion of the continental shelf and oceanic islands, and contradicted by classifying North and South America as two continents; and/or Eurasia and Africa as two continents, with no natural separation by water. This anomaly reaches its extreme if the continuous land mass of Europe and Asia is considered to constitute two continents… Continents are sometimes extended beyond the major landmasses, in a way that every bit of land on earth is included in a continent.
(Btw, as another example, modern science is also a bit divided on how we define a “species”. And notice that the torah only speaks of “kinds”, not “species”. Just an aside to illustrate the point.)
So how can one definitely conclude the Zohar’s claim is true when the number of continents recognized is mostly convention?
3. Furthermore, as wiki said, “Many of the seven most commonly recognized continents identified by convention are not discrete landmasses separated by water.” This fact contradicts the Zohar’s (alleged) opinion directly: “There was only one continent, which later broke up into seven separate continents, which slowly drew apart. At that point, water flowed into the gaps between them to form the various oceans and seas.”
Of course, one could always pick the next biggest separate landmasses and count those as a full seven, but it would only demonstrate even more strongly my second point.
4. As an aside, I’ve honestly never really studied the Zohar and was having a really hard time finding this reference online. I’d really love to see how it was written in the original. (Seriously, if anyone can find it, please send it to me.)
However, in trying to find it, I noticed something about the Zohar: It is overflowing with mystical nonsense, and it has a special affinity for the number 7, which it relates to “sefirot" and all sorts of mystical ideas. I actually encourage the reader to find an online zohar (e.g. here), do a word search for “seven”, and peruse the results. Again, not having seen the direct quote inside (if it exists at all), it seems a pretty safe bet that it was meant metaphorically or mystically…
5. Before moving on to Proverbs Rashi, I’d like to back-up and discuss the Torah for a second. It’s important to keep in mind what the actual text says, aside from how people thousands of years later may like to reinterpret it. And like I mentioned in the first point about the torah being wrong in general, it is also specifically wrong here.
Any unbiased reading of the Torah clearly shows that it believed in a single, solid land-mass, just as the article’s author begins by stating. And that, simply put, is wrong. Just something to remember.
6. Furthermore, even if we accepted the premise that the Torah was talking about Pangea, the super-continent, it’d still be wrong because it is believed that there were other broken up continents before Pangea formed (x), and the earth continued to evolve until it reached it’s present state. That is, it didn’t simply go from one to seven.
(And out of curiosity, would the author suggest that the proper understanding of that verse from Proverbs is that there was specific wisdom in choosing 7 continents? Because the earth is still changing! There won’t be 7 continents forever! Soooo…. what then? Was it just wise to have 7 continents for a time for some mysterious reason?)
7. Furthermore, even if we ignored those problems we’d still have the problem that the Torah incorrectly explains how land formed: “And God said: ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.”
Rashi explains: “Let the water…gather: They were spread out over the surface of the entire earth, and He gathered them in the ocean, [the Mediterranean], which is the largest of all the seas. — [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 5; Gen. Rabbah 5:2]” (x)
The problem is that that’s not actually how it works. It seems the author of that verse in Genesis, as well as Rashi, are trying to explain why the water doesn’t simply continue up the shore and swallow up the land (much like how the nonsense about the “firmament” is an attempt to explain why the “water above” doesn’t simply rain down on us all the time; see also Gen 7:11 “all the springs of the great deep were split, and the windows of the heavens opened up.”). The answer they give is that god commanded the water to stay back and make room for land. But that’s not actually what happens. Water is subject to gravity, like everything in the universe, and so it naturally “clings” to the earth at the lowest point possible - you might recognize this as a basic property of liquids - aside for the effects of other gravitational pulls, like those from the moon which cause the tides. The sea didn’t “go back”; rather, the earth “went up”. The tectonic plates shifted, moving certain sheets above sea level, but the ocean always did what it does: Seeks the lowest point.
8. Plus, let’s take a look at that rashi I just quoted, which quotes from the medrash. Basically, it’s flat-out wrong. The Mediterranean is not the largest sea or ocean (btw, this could again be a good example of terms unlikely to be used the same way in ancient times). The Mediterranean is only the 7th largest sea, and even if we counted it as part of the Atlantic Ocean, which some oceanographers do, that is still only the second largest ocean.
Of course, that medrash wasn’t part of the author’s article, so it’s not 100% apropos to criticize it, but it’s a good example of my first point: There are tons of ideas out there, and religious folk can simply cherry-pick the ones which could sorta maybe be right and act as if their religion offers divine knowledge, when it’s anything but.
In fact, I’d actually say that the OP’s article is a fantastic example of how people exegete any idea they want into the torah. The author finds a torah verse which is flat out wrong, finds a random interpretation which fits with modern knowledge (though only sort-of), and then couples it with a super vague verse from Proverbs, and half of an interpretation from one commentator who lived over a thousand years later (see my next point). He ignores the other half of which is obviously wrong, but more importantly, unhelpful for the leap of interpretation the author wants to make. Yeah, this kind of “proof” is not convincing. When you have to first make a weak argument that your interpretation is valid, it doesn’t do much to prove that they had great insight. If we had a clear verse or medrash with scientific prescience, then we’re at least having an interesting discussion, but when you first need to make some strange, twisted, and weak arguments to say that that’s what those ancients even meant - yeah, not convincing.
9. I mentioned that the OP only picks half of an interpretation. That’s because the excerpt where Rashi explains what else he thinks the verse in Proverbs is about, he explains that the “7” things alluded to are either the 7 days of genesis (another myth, just btw) or the “7 books of the torah” (yeaaaah). x But the OP is fine just mixing and matching interpretations, regardless of internal consistency, bc that’s how he can exegete his nonsense into judaism.
Btw, speaking of half-interpretations, I did find a section of the Zohar about that verse from Proverbs - the Zohar explains it as referring to righteous people, not continents. (x) But of course the OP doesn’t mention that, but has no problem arguing about what the Zohar and Torah and Proverbs are really talking about.
10. And just a last note about the OP’s closing line: “I guess, once again, they [non-believers] didn’t look at the Handbook of the Universe [i.e. the Torah].”
The difference between science and religion is that religion claims to be the “handbook of the universe” even though it doesn’t actually match reality; science, in contrast, looks to the universe for facts and answers before writing it in a handbook. And guess what, fact-checking first is the method which works.
p.s. I would really like to know if the guy who runs the website wrote this article or borrowed it from elsewhere, since it’s been somewhat difficult to locate the origin of the argument.