Exodus 7:20 states that in a few seconds the water in the Nile was turned into blood. Modern science says that this is almost impossible based on how it was described in the torah. No chemicals were added. If they were then the were added out of thin air which also contradicts science. So the question is, do people who think that water can be turned into blood also not think science is true?

Edit: After some discussion, I think it's agreed upon that the chances of every molecule of water in the Nile spontaneously turning to blood are very very low. Most Jews accept this, but then assert that God ordered this to happen. So then the question is what are the chances of the existence of a being (God) that could perform such a miracle? So then I think to myself, there is a group of people (Jews) that will believe in God. They believe what is written in the Torah is true and they live their daily lives by it (meaning reciting daily prayers and following Jewish Law, etc..). I think it's really cool that people do this and I completely respect that they carry on a tradition that is thousands of years old. But I need to ask when these same people learn chemistry or physics in schools, what do they think of this knowledge? Do they just disregard it? Because when I learned these subjects, the teacher never stopped to say that these chemical laws can be broken if God intervenes. For full disclosure, I went to a public school so I doubt this would have happened. But from what I understand, some hasidic Jews (Satmar in particular) do not really teach secular subjects in their schools. I guess I have a sub-question then: why would a group of people not want to advance their knowledge of science. I mean, it's very hard to question the Torah when you haven't learned science in school.

I do not mean to be disrespectful in asking this question. I am just curious.

Also, I am just using this one particular point as an example. There are possibly dozens of other places in the Torah that contradict science. I am curious about what orthodox Jews think of science.

  • 3
    Your question should be on all the 10 plagues,the whole point of that these where not natural occurrences rather acts of The Creater of the Universe
    – sam
    Jul 8 '14 at 4:54
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8231
    – Fred
    Jul 8 '14 at 5:52
  • 2
    I wasn't aware science gave any probability to there being a such a being.
    – Double AA
    Jul 8 '14 at 14:53
  • 1
    Can you explain why there being a Being who can supersede the laws or science makes those laws less useful? Why would belief in such a being affect one's interest in learning these highly useful laws (as you seem to imply)?
    – Double AA
    Jul 8 '14 at 14:59
  • 1
    @kirby Yes. And he could turn my laptop into a koala bear. Or a bottle of Heinz* ketchup. I'm not particularly worried about that happening though. (I don't have laptop insurance against it, for instance.) *Only the best for God.
    – Double AA
    Jul 8 '14 at 15:40

First of all, the whole point of the 'river turning to blood' was that it was supposed to be a miracle, an event showing that superiority of a force over the natural world (i.e. science). So, if anything, your example proves that the Jews DO believe in modern science, as they believe that there's no natural way to turn water into blood without divine intervention.

Ironically, it happens to be that in this particular example, the Ramban believed that the river turning to blood was a natural occurrence in the sense that it didn't require a violation of natural law (comments to Ex. 8:15). I personally think that he believed this due to his knowledge of alchemy (which, in his day and age, took the place of chemistry).

Regarding your actual question, though:

There are possibly dozens of other places in the Torah that contradict science. I am curious about what orthodox Jews think of science.

Committed Jews are not a theologically monolithic entity. Some embrace scientific knowledge, insisting that it cannot in any meaningful way contradict anything that the Torah says. Others insist that the Torah does put forth scientific claims, which must therefore be believed despite whatever scientists may say. Still others have in-between or ambivalent opinions.

  • 1
    The Ramban does not say that he believed "the river turning to blood was a natural occurrence." He merely says that the Egyptian sorcerers could replicate the plague. Jan 3 '16 at 21:26
  • @AlterBochur the Ramban's words are "מכת הדם להפוך תולדת המים לדם, ומכת הצפרדעים להעלותם מן היאור, יכלו לעשות כן, כי אין בהם בריאה או יצירה." I understand that to mean that water turning to blood is no less natural than frogs jumping out of the water Jan 3 '16 at 21:28
  • 2
    The first 2 plagues were not natural occurrences. At the same time they were not new creations either. The Ramban contrasts the first 2 plagues with the third plague which took inanimate earth and changed it to living lice - an act of creation. I do not see in the Ramban a claim that the some of the plagues were not miraculous. Jan 3 '16 at 23:13
  • @AlterBochur I should have been clearer; I'm using "natural" only in a relativistic sense. Obviously, the abundance of frogs leaving the Nile wouldn't have happened naturally, but at the same time, the plague of frogs doesn't entail a violation of the natural order, and so it is not as miraculous. Blood turning to water is "natural" in the same way Jan 4 '16 at 0:02
  • Perhaps the plague of frogs didn't break the natural order. But I don't think water turning into blood can be considered natural. It is changing one substance found in nature into another in an unnatural way. Jan 4 '16 at 0:44

Technically, "modern science" incorporates quantum mechanics, which includes the ideas of particles "blipping" in and out of existence, as well as that of all that science predicts are probabilities not definitive absolutes. So modern science doesn't really contradict the miraculous (which are essentially then statistical anomalies).

Furthermore, at a more fundamental level, "modern science" deals with norms which, by definition, miracles are not. In other words, if the Pentateuch were claiming that the norm was that water turns to blood on a regular basis, that would contradict modern science. But the point is that it was an anomaly, and not the norm. See also Maharal Hakdamos to Gevuros Hashem.

  • I would also add that "modern science" is generally not the most clearly defined term. While the "formal sciences" such as mathematics deal with the "impossible", they certainly don't preclude miracles. And while the "natural sciences" don't describe miracles as the norm, they essentially never discuss "possibility", only probability. And miracles are only miracles (and therefore significant) because they are naturally improbable.
    – Loewian
    Jul 8 '14 at 5:00
  • I have deleted several comments here. Please use Mi Yodeya Chat for continued conversation. Comments on a post are for suggesting improvements to or clarification of the post, or for adding brief, side, but helpful information.
    – msh210
    Jul 8 '14 at 5:29
  • @loewian please see my edits
    – kirby
    Jul 8 '14 at 14:50
  • 1
    xkcd.com/1240 Jan 4 '16 at 1:09
  • nothing blips in and out of existence. in QM there is no such thing as zero energy state. so energy fields fluctuate in and out of the gray energy uncertainty area.
    – ray
    Nov 30 '16 at 6:46

the water turning into blood was a minor part of the miracles.

According to the Midrash there, there were a host of other miracles, such as the spit of egyptians turning to blood, the juice in fruit turned to blood.

If a Jew drank from the Nile it transformed back to water. If an Egyptian stole it from him, it turned back to blood. If both a jew and an egyptian drank from the same glass, the jew had water but the egyptian had blood.

The only way for the Egyptian to obtain water was to purchase it from a Jew.

This plague was supposed to show among other things, that the natural order is not running on its own as scientists believe but rather that there is an Intelligence behind it all. BTW, this is something some scientists have hinted on such as Max Planck, one of the key founders of the quantum theory who said:

"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter".

  • 1
    Nice quote of Max Planck!
    – yO_
    May 1 '17 at 8:44