Friday, January 21, 2005

Time must be relative, or, a rose by any other name

R. Mordecai Plaut, in his comments on this site states " I discuss the age of the universe in the article he(that would be me) references, but my conclusion is that the Torah age is fine."

Well, maybe. It depends on what is meant that "the Torah age is fine." If what is meant is that the Torah age means exactly 5763(using the year R. Plaut uses in his article) years have elapsed since the begining of creation, with years being defined in the usual 365 day fashion(and day being defined as 24 hours as we know it now), then R. Plaut has not proven his point. If 5763 years is defined from some other starting point, or the term years is allowed to have meanings different than 365 days as we know them now, then R. Plaut has substantiated his conclusion. However, that conclusion is not the definitive statement "5763 years have elapsed since the begining of creation as we reckon years."


R. Plaut starts by discussing measurement, and correctly stating that measurement requires a standard, and a point of reference. He then comes to three explainations for the difference between the Torah age, and the scientific age:

1. the word yom, especially in the first days, does not a day as in specifically 24 hours.

2. the age of the world is calculated from the creation of Adam, not from the very begining of creation

3. yom can have a qualitative, not just quantitative aspect, and before the presence of man, "a much larger amount of change is necessary for it to be spoken of as a qualitative equal to a human day."

So, R. Plaut comes to the conclusion that 5763(at the time the article was written) "is fine."

However, if you look at caveats 1-3, that 5763 comes with an asterisk. When you look at the bottom to see what the asterisk means, it means either(following the list above)

1. the first few days may have been more than days, in fact "we may grant that the events described in the Torah account of creation took many(perhaps billions of ) days." So, if you add those perhaps billions of days to 5763 years, you get, billions of years.

2. 5763 only counts from day 6, and who know how much time elapsed from the very begining of creation until day 6. Therefore, the real number of years from the very begining of creation is 5763 plus an unknown, but real number, therefore 5763 is not the correct number.

3. Similar to the previous arguements, an arguement that time has a qualitative, not just quantitative aspect, does not annul a quantitative measurement of time, and again, converting the qualitative to quantitative appears to result in a number greater than 5763.

In summary, by R. Plaut's own data and reasoning, the Torah age, 5763, only works when enough caveats are arranged around it. And, so many are there as to make the number meaningless as a definitive quantification of an amount of time on its own. Maybe I should have stuck with 'gasp'.

Time does not allow me to comment on the two articles R. Plaut referenced in the comments section, but B'N I will have something posted by Monday

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