Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The principles of Jewish Faith: # 4 “(Only) God is eternal” (Part 2/2).

Jews never believed in the eternity of the universe. The Fourth principle of our faith asserts that only God is eternal. The 13 Principles were formulated by Maimonides (1165-1204) early in his life in the commentary to the Mishna Sanhedrin, Tenth Chapter. At first, the Fourth principle, which asserts that God is first and last, did not include anything related to the belief in the beginning of the world.  Rabbi Yosef Kappach explained that later in his life, after writing his Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides clarified within that principle, that only God is eternal, which excluded the belief in an eternal universe: "A fundamental principle of the Law of Moses is that the World was created anew and that God formed it and created it from absolute non-existence. That which you observe, that I repeatedly argue against the eternity of the world according to the view of the philosophers, is to demonstrate the absoluteness of the miracle of His existence as I have explained and clarified in the Guide for the Perplexed." 

Let me explain what Maimonides meant. Beginning probably with Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), philosophers and scientists denied a beginning of the Universe. They thought that the universe was never born or created. In their opinion, the universe was eternal ('olam kadmon).  This solid idea started to change only in 1930, when Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding.  If the cosmos was expanding, and not going in circles as they thought until that time, then it must have a had a point of beginning. A few years later many scientists came with a simple inductive formula which affirmed that tracking back the movie of the universe's expansion one will inevitably find a moment of beginning.  The most famous hypothesis is called the Big Bang theory, which apart from the time it attributes to the beginning of the universe, reaffirms the Biblical idea of beginning. It is the first scientific theory that postulates a beginning of the universe, after 25 centuries of denying it!   

Spectacular!  WATCH: I am Jewish  One Jew's answer to what it means to be Jewish.
by Andrew Lustig, from Aish.com