Christopher Hitchens on God and Science

I agree with the faithful in one respect, and would myself say if I was a believer: We have no right to demand or to expect an explanation from the inventor, and our expectations of ever getting one, let alone of intuiting one, are quite vain. I propose a bargain: Let science get on with the job of explicating and elucidating evolution, and leave the godly to the task of justifying the supernatural. It is not a sign of progress that these days even the creationists are attempting to “evolve.”

The division of intellectual labor needs to be restored.

Christopher Hitchens

The American Enterprise

April 2005


The problem, of course, is the Torah itself which, if read literally, calls for a 6000 year old universe, a global flood, Hebrew as man’s first language, and many other scientifically untenable assertions. And haredi rabbinic leadership insists on this literal reading.

Can Torah and science be rectified? I don’t think so. What does this mean for Judaism? Intellectually, the end of it. But religion is not at its heart a rational or intellectual enterprise. Judaism will survive, with or without the veneer of rationalism it had successfully cultivated for two thousand years. It will survive as any other religious group survives – on blind faith and emotion.

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5 Comments

Filed under Torah and Science

5 responses to “Christopher Hitchens on God and Science

  1. ZA

    Actually, it is not that hard to reconcile Religion (especially Judaism) and science. We just have to learn how to differentiate between truth and belief. For example, we could easily prove that there is DNA and this DNA carries the genetic code and functions as the blueprint of the body. This is science; it could be proven by repeatable experiments and observations. And most importantly for our discussion, there is nothing in the Jewish religion that would directly disagree with that fact of science.
    On the other hand, none of us have been around in the time of creation. We do not have any documented direct observation about that event (the story of Genesis was committed to written form, even according to Judaism, many thousand years after the creation). The religion believe that the world was created by Go-d, in seven days, some fifty seven hundred odd years ago, while the scientists BELIEVE that the world was created in a cosmic event, named the big boom, some gazillion years ago.
    Both belief systems have proofs from within their own systems, both are convinced that they are the only truth and both fail to convince anybody who is not a believer.
    Let’s get clear here; anything that could be observed and proved TODAY or based on credible witnesses or documents (that need always to be cross examined) is as close to the truth as possible and usually do not have any problems with both religion and science. Anything that is based on inter-system (from within that belief system) speculations about what could have, should have or might have happened in the past is a BELIEF and thus a religion, not science.
    Evolution, like intelligence design, like Kabala, are all beautiful poetry, still they are not, as far as we could say, the universal accepted truth, they are all sorts of beliefs.
    ZA

  2. mb

    Science teaches us how.

    Torah teaches us why.

    Chief Rabbi Sacks.

  3. Neo-Conservaguy

    It’s only a problem if one insists one maintaining a literal/fundamentalist approach to understanding religion. If one moves with the times and rolls with the punches – as our great sages did when they reinvented Judaism standing in the ashes rubble of the 2nd Temple – we’ll do just fine, as we always have before. We just need great leaders that aren’t afraid of some change.

  4. It’s futile to attempt to reconcile science and religion, especially if you understand religion through the eyes of a literalist. Most likely the Bible wasn’t intended to be understood as fundamentalist would have you undersatand the text. Nevertheless, science and religion operate on two infinite parallel tracks never destined to intersect. Rather than try and reconcile the two it’s probably more reasonable to understand the universe on these two seemingly irreconcilable tracks. Judaism has much to offer us and the world independent and regardless of the scientific community. Science has much to offer the world and we ought to take advantage of it and see it all as part of the ongoing partnership in creation between man and G-d

  5. It’s futile to attempt to reconcile science and religion, especially if you understand religion through the eyes of a literalist. Most likely the Bible wasn’t intended to be understood as fundamentalist would have you undersatand the text. Nevertheless, science and religion operate on two infinite parallel tracks never destined to intersect. Rather than try and reconcile the two it’s probably more reasonable to understand the universe on these two seemingly irreconcilable tracks. Judaism has much to offer us and the world independent and regardless of the scientific community. Science has much to offer the world and we ought to take advantage of it and see it all as part of the ongoing partnership in creation between man and G-d

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