September 6: Faith and fact

Is Stephen Hawkings someone we should believe in and listen to?

Faith and fact
Sir, – Your article (“Israeli scientists blast off at Hawking’s view that ‘God was not needed’ to create the universe,” September 3) states that Stephen Hawkings is an eminent theoretical physicist. That must make him someone we should believe in and listen to.
Wrong! By surviving (for now) his debilitating disease, Hawking should accept the fact that there is a God who is keeping him alive. How can he possibly explain scientifically that the difference between life and death is an invisible soul? Can he create a soul in the laboratory? Can he explain how man was able to use his brain – an amazing organ that has not been replicated – to invent the computer that allows him to communicate with the world though his eyelids? Can he explain how the moon and other planets – that he wants mankind to inhabit one day – keep circling in the universe in the same way, day in and day out? Can he explain how coauthor Mlodinow’s parents just happened to survive the Holocaust when so many others were murdered? Hawkings’s preposterous statement that “God was not needed for this” belies the fact that even he acknowledges God’s existence.
He just wasn’t needed for this act.
Prof. Hagai Netzer makes an enlightened comment when he says “We physicists don’t know all the details necessary, maybe in the future....” Yes, Dr. Netzer, when you and your colleagues begin to understand that there are some things in this world that are beyond comprehension even for degreed people like yourself, you will accept that there is a being greater than you who is in charge of the world.
Sir, – As a lecturer at the Orthodox yeshiva Aish HaTorah, and as a scientist with 14 years at MIT, I may surprise some by agreeing with Prof. Hawking. Indeed, to create a universe from absolutely nothing, all that is needed are the laws of physics (complex and couched in quantum fluctuations as they are), which allow something to arise from nothing.
The laws of nature – not nature itself, but totally nonphysical, abstract laws – can create nature. Of course, since these laws create the universe with its many physical aspects, including the flow of time as we understand it, they must predate the universe. If something pre-dates the universe and time, it is outside of time, timeless.
Prof. Hawking skipped that part. This means that some nonthing, not physical, outside of time created the universe.
Sounds to me like the traditional description of God.
What you pay for
Sir, – Your September 2 editorial “No more cop-outs” was completely off target. You did not even hint at the primary cause for the present state of the Israel Police force: no money! The salaries of police officers of all ranks are abominably low, so low that only the fanatically dedicated remain on the force.
I once met a policeman moonlighting as a minibus driver in order to make ends meet, while his brother had quit to join a private security firm at three times the salary.
Israel’s number of police officers per 100,000 population is reported to be the lowest in the industrialized world. The resources budget is a joke. I am acquainted with police commanders who have such minimal personnel that if one person is unable to report for duty, they frantically recall another from his rest to cover the gap.
If we want a better police force, we have to pay for it. Until then, moaning and groaning and self-serving political soapboxing will solve nothing. I would recommend cutting the salaries of government department directors to those of senior police commanders and see how they like it.
Saying all along
Sir, – Douglas Bloomfield (“Incitement, Israeli-style,” Washington watch, September 2) reacts to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s comments with shock and disbelief. Pretty ironic at this time of year, when those of us who hold a Rosh Hashana seder will be reciting no fewer than three different blessings asking God to decimate our enemies and remove our adversaries, and that our enemies should be consumed.
We have many prayers that beseech God to wipe out our enemies and those who wish to harm us. Is the writer not aware of this? Regarding Bloomfield’s admonition of Rabbi Amar’s “accusation” against the Reform movement and non-Torah observers, he should know that our daily Amida prayer, in the 12th paragraph, asks God to “speedily cut down our enemies” and “uproot, smash, cast down and humble the wanton sinners, speedily in our days.” We end the blessing by praising God, “who breaks enemies and humbles wanton sinners.”
These well-known figures in our community are only saying what we’ve been asking God to do for many years, on a daily basis. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Sir, – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef should keep his mouth shut. If he wants to open it publicly, why doesn’t he say something helpful, as a rabbi, spiritual leader, man of God and Jew is supposed to do, especially during these delicate times? Instead, he brings our country more disrepute world-wide.
I remember him condemning the president of Iran and others who have called for the elimination of Israel; now he is doing exactly the same, but in reverse, which cannot do us any good at all. This man should be called upon to publicly apologize for his deplorable remarks.
Ironic indeed
Sir, – It was ironic to be reminded by Caroline Glick, in her August 31 “Our world” column (“Washington’s Israeli allies”) that appeared a few hours before the Hebron atrocity, of the advice Israel Prize laureate Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell once gave to the Palestinians.
In a 2001 Haaretz op-ed, Sternhell suggested that they limit their acts of murder to those living beyond the Green Line since, for as he put it, “there is no doubt about the legitimacy of armed resistance in the territories themselves.”
I wonder if Sternhell is gratified to see that his advice is being acted upon. I also wonder how a person who sees fit to give advice to terrorists can be truly considered a worthy recipient of the prestigious Israel Prize.
Absurd situation
Sir, – The settlements are an issue to be addressed in the negotiations themselves, states the prime minister (“PM won’t discuss construction freeze before negotiations,” August 29). This situation is downright absurd.
On our Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Web site we officially state: The West Bank and Gaza Strip are disputed territories whose status can only be determined through negotiations. If indeed the territories are “disputed” pending negotiation, what could possibly be more plausible than to halt any activity that might change their character during the period of negotiation? Our refusal to obey such elementary rules of good faith suggests that we have no intention to leave the West Bank. This suspicion is supported by the incredible investments that have been made there without halt, for decades.
The inevitable conclusion must be that all talk about two states and an amiable solution to the conflict is mere eyewash.
The implication of this to the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is worrying.