web analytics
November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Does God Ever Play Dice With the Universe? A Jewish Response.

Dice

Dice

Einstein once said upon being confronted with the rising dominance of the Quantum Theory which asserts certain absolute uncertainties in the universe: “I cannot believe God plays dice with the universe.” This phrase has often been repeated, insofar as Einstein had a way with engaging phases sometimes rivaling his way with engaging ideas. The issue, moreover, is one which I believe not simply has philosophical relevance for science but one which has vital practical and philosophical relevance for religion. It is an issue, moreover, where Judaism provides some illuminating core responses.

Firstly, the suggestion that chaos was originally included in creation is conveyed in Genesis where it is asserted that when earth was created “the earth being unformed and void” (Gen: 1:2). The latter term given in Hebrew is “tohu and vohu,” generally translated as “formless and void” and more specifically as waste and chaos. This is linked with the ancient associations of “chaos” and when followed by a reference to water i.e. “a wind from God sweeping over the water” may be understood as a containing a “formlessness” or “randomness.” This randomness is supplanted by the introduction of “order” through light i.e. God said “ Let there be light “ (Gen: 1: 3).

The question then arises as to whether this “randomness” is entirely replaced by order or whether there is some residual aspect where certain randomness prevails. The Talmud asserts and the Rambam poignantly reminds us that “All is in the hands of God except fear of God” (Ber. 33b; Niddah 16b) Consequently there is the suggestion that some residual randomness that may be allocated to “free will” which is first represented in the garden when Eve and Adam choose to consume the forbidden fruit.

The “exception” here outside the realm of order is therefore is within the framework of human choice .It may be observed that the randomness here does not apply to what should be followed but rather by what is followed by humankind. In short it is a descriptive randomness rather than a prescriptive one. It is randomness, however, not in the sense it is arbitrary, but rather in the sense that within the framework of time it is unpredictable. The “fear” that remains is the fear of humankind ; it is not an accidental happening. God has endowed humankind with a choice. As stated in the Torah, Gen: 11:26.”See, this day I have set before you blessing and curse, blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, curse if you don’t obey the commandments.” Here we also offered the profound insight of the Jewish mid-evil philosopher Gersonides, who maintains (within “Wars of the Lord , iii, 6) that at least within the framework of time (note: outside time is another matter which only God can transcend) that the choice itself is allowed to be unpredictable and left up to humankind.

Further, what may be called “luck” or “chance” in human events may also fit well into this perspective. In the Torah we find human choices leading to circumstances where what appears as “luck” or “chance” presents events that allow a favorable outcome although not determining it. Further Jewish history supplements this with an abundance of such developments, such as Joseph ending up in Egypt, Abraham’s servant Eliezer returning with Rebecca etc.

The events of the purim (which significantly means lots) story provides a paradigmatic example of such developments. In such instances, human choices are coupled with unexpected opportunities that allow a favorable outcome if further correct choices are rendered. The king Ahasuerus after approached by Esther and a bout of insomnia his scribes read the royal log and learns of Mordechi’s rescue. Consequently we may speak of a kind of destiny in these developments, but it is a destiny that emerges from opportunities rather than guarantees, and where human interaction with God’s granted opportunities is needed to complete the formation of a positive picture. It is, moreover, a destiny that requires an unpredictability and in this sense may be described as a “soft destiny” as opposed to a “hard destiny” devoid of human decision making. Chaos is required here, but it is a chaos where creation is ongoing and through God’s benevolence, is shared with humankind.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Does God Ever Play Dice With the Universe? A Jewish Response.”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Talks, talks and talks a between p5+1 and Iran.
Kerry Ready for another ‘Framework’ to Let Iran Off the Hook
Latest Indepth Stories
beta-israel2

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

Jo-map

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

bulb

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

Medics evacuate the dead and injured after attack on Har Nof synagogue Tuesday morning.

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.

More Articles from Howard Zik
Mark Twain

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

Dice

In decision making, randomness is most significant and where God gave us a creative role in shaping the future.

The idea of a personal God implies the notion that God is more than just the sum total of the physical universe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/does-god-ever-play-dice-with-the-universe-a-jewish-response/2014/06/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: