Questions tagged [science]

questions about science in relation to Judaism

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47
votes
5answers
3k views

Are sea sponges kosher?

The sea sponge is scientifically classified as an animal (kingdom Animalia), therefore maybe it would be considered unkosher, as seafood. On the other hand, its phylum Porifera is distinct and ...
46
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27answers
3k views

About what were rabbis ahead of the times?

I have heard claims that experts in the world of Torah were significantly ahead of their counterparts in the world of natural science (or mathematics, or psychology, or…) in that they knew X (...
36
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13answers
3k views

Bereishit vs. science

How does Judaism deal with the differences between scientific evidence of the beginning of the world and the account(s) in Bereishit?
29
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9answers
2k views

Why the vast difference of opinion about the age of the Universe?

5770 and 13,000,000,000 is a big difference! I am looking for a good explanation for the different views of the age of the universe, [the Tanakh's view and astronomy's view.] Please help me out!
27
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3answers
2k views

Premature birth contradicting science

I am a teacher at a private all-girls Jewish high school. There are two science teachers in the school, and both of us are Christian. I was talking with my fellow science teacher recently, and she ...
27
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11answers
5k views

How are pre-creation >4000 BCE human civilization and pre-flood >2300 BCE civilizations that continued reconciled with Judaism?

How does human history fit in with the Torah's timeline? (This is not about why the universe and Earth look so old.) There is extensive evidence of a human population and human civilizations from ...
26
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5answers
1k views

Does artificial meat grown in a petri dish have the halachic status of meat?

Scientists are developing means of growing artificial meat in a petri dish. Does such 'meat' have the halachic status of meat? Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/11/us-science-meat-f-...
23
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8answers
2k views

Time Travel and Judaism

Has time travel ever been discussed before in terms of Judaism? According to Judaism would (should) it be possible to travel through time?
23
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5answers
2k views

Why do Jews physically resemble members of their “host” nationalities? [closed]

Why do Jews often so closely resemble the members of the nationalities amongst whom they have been living for only a few hundred years? How do features spread through such an exclusive population so ...
21
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3answers
1k views

Can an Alien convert to Judaism?

Suppose we one day find an extraterrestrial walking on our planet that originated from another planet. The alien quickly learns all about religion and now wants to become a Jew. Do we let him? ...
19
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2answers
281 views

In what way are mushrooms considered “non-nutritive”?

The Mishnah (Eruvin 26b) states that water and salt can't be used as the food for eruv chatzeiros or eruv techumin (thus Rashi; according to Tosafos only the latter). Rashi explains that this is ...
19
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1answer
448 views

Mushrooms in a Vineyard

The bracha on a mushroom is "shehakol" because the Talmud (Berachot 40b) correctly (I think) states that mushrooms do not derive their nutrients from the ground. If a mushroom is growing in a ...
18
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7answers
585 views

why half-believe the Torah?

(I'm not sure this is on-topic, and feel free to close it if it's not, of course.) I understand some who study the Bible claim natural reasons for things we recognize as miracles, from the plagues of ...
18
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5answers
2k views

How to reconcile Biblical Flood story vs science and history?

Genesis spends a good deal of time -- Chapters 6 through 11 -- discussing the "mabul mayim", a flood that killed all humanity outside the ark. Here is what the Torah's text says about the universality ...
17
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5answers
519 views

Let there be light! But from where?

According to Genesis 1:3, "And G-d said, Let there be light; and there was light." What light is the Torah referring to if the sun which produces light by day was created only on the 4th day of ...
16
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2answers
473 views

Who is worthy of reciting the blessing “שנתן מחכמתו לבשר ודם” on?

On whom does one recite the blessing "שנתן מחכמתו לבשר ודם" (the blessing recited on non-Jewish scientists)? Does he have to be a Ph.D? Does he have to have inventions to his name? Did he have to ...
14
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11answers
898 views

Reconciling the evidence for the Uncertainty Principle with belief in an omniscient G-d

One of the foundations of modern quantum mechanics is the Uncertainty Principle. This principle is not an assumption, but rather is derived from assumptions made with regard to the structure of nature....
14
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2answers
664 views

Cryonics in Judaism

I was recently reading an article about cryogenics, there are around 200 bodies frozen in cryogenics labs around the world, and in the article they said that in the near future they may be able to ...
14
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5answers
3k views

In light of modern science, why is bee honey still kosher?

My understanding of why bee honey is kosher is because the talmud says that the honey is not a by-product of the bees. They simply store the nectar in their body to transfer it and then expel it, ...
14
votes
3answers
656 views

Would a genetically engineered red heifer be usable?

Assuming that a non-Jew chose to create a genetically engineered parah adumah (red heifer) and further assuming it met all the halachic requirements --no two black hairs, hadn't been used for work etc....
12
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1answer
17k views

Does a finding of Jewish blood in a DNA test make one Jewish?

I had a DNA test done and the results say that my DNA is group with Sephardic Jews. My last name is Steen and I have always heard that we were of Dutch ancestry and I do genealogy and have not found ...
12
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4answers
1k views

Is it heresy to read the Bible literally?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in this debate with Richard Dawkins says: Rabbis in the 10th century laid down the following principle: If a biblical narrative is incompatible with established scientific fact,...
11
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3answers
599 views

Time dilation and waiting between meat and milk

Suppose Ploni eats some meat. He then gets in a spaceship and accelerates to some significant percentage of the speed of light for a short trip into outer space, and then returns home. At the time ...
11
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5answers
378 views

Does the colouring of animals depend on what the mother sees before conception?

What is the meaning of the strategies (hishtadlus) that Yaakov made with the conception of the animals starting at 30 (37)? Is it or was it a natural thing that the colouring of animals depends on ...
11
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6answers
614 views

Is there any reason to deny aliens according to Judaism?

Is there any reason that we couldn't believe in life on another planet somewhere? Is there any source that indicates to the contrary?
11
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2answers
461 views

Kosherizing Water using Distillation

Suppose I have water that was cooked with non-kosher food. I then take the water and distill it. Would this water be considered permissible to drink?
11
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4answers
974 views

Would synthesized meat be Kosher?

Scientists are preparing synthesized meat for human consumption. See here for a excerpt, and two articles here and here. My question is: Would this meat be considered Kosher? Might it depend on the ...
10
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7answers
1k views

Rationalist Position on Bible Ancients' Long Lives

How would a rationalist interpret the long lives of the ancient people enumerated in the Bible, from Methuselah on down? Virtually no person lives more than 120 years today, even with the assistance ...
10
votes
3answers
312 views

How do scientists such as Natan Aviezer and Gerald Schroeder understand the fourth day of creation?

If I understand correctly, scientists such as Natan Aviezer and Gerald Schroeder have readings of Genesis Chapter 1 that fit with the current scientific understanding of how the universe/planet/life ...
10
votes
5answers
740 views

Is olive oil unhealthy?

The Gemara in Brachot 35b says that the proper bracha on pure olive oil is "Borei Peri HaEtz". However, it says that this refers to when you mixed the oil with some אניגרון which Prof Marcus Jastrow ...
10
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1answer
246 views

What is the “Kos Shel Ikrin,” a potion that renders one infertile?

The Talmud discusses the "Kos Shel Ikrin" (Cup of the Barren, or Cup of Roots), a potion that rendered a woman or man infertile. The recipe for this potion is on record in tractate Shabbos and there ...
10
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3answers
313 views

Shofar from an extinct animal

After paying a trip to the Natural History Museum in London I found myself wondering... would it be allowed (to any extent) to use a shofar of an animal that has kosher simanim but is extinct? There ...
9
votes
4answers
719 views

Can halacha change based on scientific research?

Shabbat 39a says: "With regard to heating food in the sun itself, everyone agreed that one is permitted to place food in the sun to heat it, as it is certainly neither fire nor a typical form of ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does the Talmud assume a woman cannot get pregnant on the first act of intercourse?

There is a rule in the Gemara (Yevamot 34a) that אין אשה מתעברת בביאה ראשונה. The question is why the Talmud assumes that a virgin cannot conceive on her first act of sexual intercourse if the hymen ...
9
votes
2answers
205 views

Is there any evidence that Chazal knew what caused eclipses?

Many ancient cultures believed that eclipses are caused by things other than syzygy. The Egyptians had Apophis. The Hindus had Rahu. (The interested reader can see more here.) In light (ha) of the ...
9
votes
1answer
433 views

How animals populated different continents after the flood?

What are some understandings as to how animals populated different continents after the flood? Did some species of animals survive the flood? Or are we to understand that the flood only affected the ...
9
votes
1answer
218 views

Dilemma for Jewish Scientists

A member of my shul, scientist who was on the short-list to win a Nobel a couple of years ago, made an interesting point about his own ethical issue. As a scientist involved in biology, professionally,...
9
votes
1answer
858 views

What is meant by the 974 “worlds” that were “created and destroyed”?

Midrash Tehillim 90:13 says that God created and destroyed 974 worlds before this one. What exactly does that mean? I've heard it used in defense of a modern understanding of evolution and cosmology ...
8
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3answers
261 views

Animals sixth sense

It seems that there is evidence that animals possess a sixth sense, such as in their fleeing from the area struck by the huge tsunami of 2005 well before the earthquake which triggered it occurred. Is ...
8
votes
1answer
599 views

What does Maimonides say about geocentrism?

I have read that Maimonides described the universe in a geocentric fashion, but I have not been able to find the specific passages to which they refer. What does Maimonides say about geocentrism?
8
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5answers
442 views

How does salt “add heat” (mishna in Shabbos 4(1))

The mishna in Shabbos 4(1) tells us which materials may not be used to insulate foods for Shabbos because they "add heat". One of these materials is salt. Can anyone explain how salt can add heat ...
8
votes
1answer
869 views

Retention of urine causing infertility?

In several places in the Gemara (Yevamos 64b, Bechoros 44b) it is stated that holding back urine for an extended period can cause a man to become infertile. In the latter place the Gemara gives a ...
8
votes
2answers
134 views

Do traditional sources address how time “works”?

I’m sorry for such a convoluted question, but this has been bothering me for some time now. While the title isn’t quite accurate, I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase it - feel free to edit if ...
8
votes
2answers
330 views

What does Judaism have to say about the origin of elements?

What does Judaism have to say about the origin of the elements? I mean chemical elements like hydrogen, oxygen, gold, sulfur, etc. Is this discussed at all?
8
votes
1answer
490 views

Mission to Mars: halachic challenges

There is talk in the scientific community of a manned Mars mission: sending an elderly couple to slingshot past Mars and return to Earth as a trial mission, toward eventual other missions that will ...
8
votes
1answer
299 views

Can dew really make an eggshell fly?

In פרשת בשלח 16:14, it says -- The layer of dew went up, and behold, on the surface of the desert, a fine, bare [substance] as fine as frost on the ground. On that verse, Rashi says (translated ...
7
votes
4answers
668 views

Lubavitch and Geocentricism

I read here in an article by Rabbi Gil Student that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe zy"a believed in the geocentric model despite the modern scientific evidence to the contrary. What is the source for this ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are Oats Chametz if oats cannot rise

Oats do not have gluten so they cannot rise - like rice and other such grains. I could understand why they would be kitniot but why are they chametz? I know in arvei psachim there is an opinion that ...
7
votes
2answers
304 views

Schrödinger's cat and yibbum

Over Shabbos, the Shalosh Seudos discussion turned to the Monty Hall problem, which confused a lot of people [and which (#Humblebrag) I was able to clear up for them in under 30 seconds ;)]. Then, ...
7
votes
1answer
171 views

Is the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly mentioned anywhere in Rabbinic literature?

My late great grandfather was a torah scholar, but with all his learning, he never knew that a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly. He was amazed when someone told him about the common ...