"By learning and publicizing the concept of continuous creation, which is one of the fundamental precepts of Chassidus, we bring the Geula closer and make it happen faster."
(the Rebbe MHM)
Where did the world come from? Was it always here? Did it start with a bang? How does one even begin to answer these questions?
The first statement in the Torah is, "In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth." We Jews have held fast to this belief throughout history while the philosophers of other nations maintained that the world was always here. It was not just a matter of curiosity. If G-d created the world - and us - then our existence has a purpose and we have a responsibility to our Creator to fulfill that purpose. We are not free to live as we please.
This is why the mitzva of Shabbos is so important. It is an observance that expresses our awareness that G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He is our Creator and we were created to serve him. We therefore have an awesome responsibility to live our lives in accordance with His will and we experience a tremendous joy in having the merit to serve Him.
The creation of the world by G-d further implies that G-d Himself can do what He wants with it and give it to whomever He wants. He gave the Land of Israel to the Jews as an inheritance and it is ours forever.
Our belief in the Creator did not remain a matter of belief only. Jewish sages and philosophers throughout the ages presented logical arguments that prove that the world had a beginning. Rabbi Akiva, the great sage of the Talmud, once explained to a non-believer that just as the existence of an intricately crafted object proves that there was a craftsman who crafted it, so too the universe itself proves that there is a Master Craftsman who created and crafted it.
The greatest Jewish philosophers such as Rav Saadia Gaon (in Emunot V'Deot), Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (in the Kuzari) and Rambam (in the Guide for the Perplexed) gave extensive philosophical proofs that the universe was created. Some of these arguments are quoted and summarized by the Tzemach Tzedek, the 3rd Rebbe of Lubavitch, who also explains their Kabbalistic basis (in Sefer HaChakira).
Throughout history, however, this remained a matter of controversy between those who believed in the Torah and those who didn't. One of the most important revelations of the Era of Moshiach will be the G-dly force which maintains the existence of the world. Just like the physical aspects of the universe are plainly visible now and no one needs to be convinced of them, in the Messianic Era, the G-dly creative force will be visible to all and it will be clear and obvious that "G-d created the heavens and the earth."
One of the early Jewish philosophers, Rabbeinu Bachaya, in his book Chovas HaLevavos (Obligations of the Heart), proves the existence of the Creator as follows:
“If someone brought before us an orderly script which could only have been produced with a pen, and he would say that ink fell on the paper and the shapes of the words were formed on it by themselves, we would immediately reject his statement and say that this script could only have been the result of an intentional act
“If we agree that written words could not have been formed by themselves, how could one say regarding [the universe] whose structure is even more refined and whose design is infinitely more deep, that it was done without the deliberate intention of One of great wisdom and great ability.”
This brings us to discuss the theory which has become known as "intelligent design" which says that the complex structure of the universe and everything that's in it attests to the existence of an intelligent being that designed and created it. While it is very logical, it has encountered stubborn resistance from the scientific community. At the same time it also has growing support among many scientists and educators. Some school boards have introduced it into the public school curricula in their communities.
When the school board of Dover, Pennsylvania introduced intelligent design into the school curriculum in 2005, they were taken to court by some unhappy parents. During the proceedings, a scientist on the witness stand who was defending intelligent design was approached by the prosecutor who placed a pile of books on evolution in front of him and asked the scientist how it is that he doesn't accept what is presented in all those books. The scientist replied simply that the arguments presented there are not conclusive and have not been proven.
I submit that we could have given a much better answer, based on what we explained above. I submit that those very books on evolution prove that evolution is wrong and that the intelligent design concept is correct. For, would any normal person think that all those books with all those words and paragraphs and ideas - whatever the ideas may be - were the result of an explosion in a printing shop? No! They were obviously designed by an intelligent author. Well, the entire universe is certainly much more structured and complex than a pile of books. Case closed.
Using a Supercomputer to Prove Creation
In a letter responding to a group of students who had asked for a proof of the existence of a Creator, the Rebbe MHM gave the following proof based on the analysis of an organized system:
"When we see an organized system consisting of several components which have no control over each other, but that relate to each other with a precise coordination, we conclude with absolute certainty that there is an external force that connects and unifies all the components. And the very fact that it unifies and connects the parts of the system proves that it is greater and stronger than them and controls them.
"For example, if we enter a factory which is running fully automatically and we see no one there, we would have no doubt that somewhere there must be a big engineer who knows about all the machines and their parts and controls them in a way that they are unified with each other and with some central unit. Furthermore, the freer the factory is from human involvement and the more automatically it runs, the more extraordinary the engineer must be.
"Now, if this is so regarding a factory, where we are speaking of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of parts, how much more so does this apply when we consider our world - the inanimate or plant and animal life, and certainly the structure of the human body (as it says in the verse "From my flesh I see G-d"). According to modern science every object is composed of billions of atoms, and each atom contains many smaller particles, so it seems that there should be tremendous chaos and disorder among them. Nevertheless we see a wondrous order and an amazing coordination between the small parts, the big ones and the very large ones, and a coordination between the constituent parts of the microcosm and the macrocosm etc. It is thus clear without any shadow of a doubt that there is an ‘Engineer’ that is responsible for all this."
In the mid-1980s, I was working as an applications consultant for a supercomputer company (ETA Systems, a subsidiary of Control Data Corporation). I worked in a consulting office at the University of Minnesota advising scientists and engineers on the use of the Cyber 205 supercomputer. There were two other consultants in the office, one black and one Chinese. The black consultant would often ask me questions about Judaism. One day he said to me, "I know that it says in those books over there," referring to theChitas (Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya in one volume) and Siddur that I had on the shelf, "that G-d created the universe...." He went on to say that a physicist friend of his told him that the universe had evolved. He wanted to know how one can prove that the Torah is right. (He was not trying to argue against it; he was genuinely interested.)
"Look," I said to him, "the universe has such a complex structure. How could it have just evolved? Someone must have designed it and set it up." He agreed that that made sense but wanted to know how we could actually proveit. "Take, for example, the Cyber 205," I responded, "do you agree that it is a very complicated computer?" The entire purpose of our office was to explain the intricacies and complexities of the Cyber 205 to the users. "Of course!" he exclaimed. I then continued, "What if someone told you that the Cyber 205 had evolved. No one designed it. No one built it. It just got there by itself – from an accident in some engineering laboratory. What would you say?" To this he did not respond. He just burst out laughing at the absurdity of such a notion. "So how much more so," I concluded, "the entire universe - of which the Cyber 205 is just a small part!"
A scientist recently wrote in the Harvard Magazine that "Any researcher who can prove the existence of intelligent design within the accepted framework of science will make history and achieve eternal fame. He will prove at last that science and religious dogma are compatible. Even a combined Nobel Prize and Templeton Prize (the latter designed to encourage search for such harmony) will fall short as proper recognition."
Well, we have proved it and, I guess, we have achieved eternal fame.
But I want to emphasize that intelligent design is more than just a valid argument. For the underlying concept - that when you see a complex design you understand that some intelligence designed it - lies at the foundation of all scientific thinking. Otherwise why look for structure and design in the universe in the first place? Who says that there is any logical structure? And even if we have seen structure in so many things, why assume that the next thing you find has any structure, and why exhaust yourself to try to find it? If the universe and life on earth came into being merely by a sequence of random events why assume that everything in the universe is structured and has a logical explanation? Some things may, by chance, happen to be logically structured, but most things would be just random. Yet we see that scientists are driven to find logical structure in everything, underlying theories and even unifying theories.
In fact, the early scientific researchers, going back to the time of Isaac Newton, were actually motivated by a belief in G-d. Since the universe was created by G-d, they reasoned, He must have created it in an orderly fashion. They then set out to find that order. As Newton wrote at the conclusion of his Principia, "The most beautiful system of the sun, planes and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."
A century later, the great mathematician Leonhard Euler incorporated the concept of the Creator into his development of mathematics. He wrote, “Because the shape of the whole universe is most perfect and, in fact, designed by the wisest Creator, nothing in all of the world will occur in which no maximum or minimum rule is somehow shining forth.”
In fact, the very existence of intelligence and logic itself indicates intelligent design. Our intelligence is logically structured; it is not random. The design of intelligence proves intelligent design.
Furthermore, even in those phenomena where we see randomness, mathematical analysis often shows that an overall structure can be identified, patterns can be discerned and conclusions drawn. There is intelligence in randomness also. To my mind, this is a most amazing aspect of G-d's creation.