Thoughts on Judaism

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Coming Revolution by Zamir Cohen

Subtitled “How Science is discovering the truths of the Torah”

The title of this Israeli best seller set my alarms off to say the least. It certainly presumes a conclusion, rather than being an objective reporter of facts, so I am steeling myself for a strong polemic with some jumps of logic, some missing facts, and some broad exaggerations. However, I was unprepared for what I found, though I had even had a little bit of preview.

The book is a series of 2-3 page comparisons of what he claims are the Biblical positions with what he claims are the scientific positions on a variety of subjects. It is apparent from early on that he has never cracked a science text and is unclear even as to what science is. “Cracked” may be the operative term here, as in “pot”. He operates on the assumptions that the Torah, the Tanach, the Talmud and the Zohar are all literal and equal in stature, from a historical and scientific viewpoint, and that the Zohar is 2000 years old. (In reality is probably more like 700 years old, a world of difference in Jewish history.) This is not the view of Judaism nor of history, but he cherry picks arguments in order to make the facts correspond to reality. His recurring theme is that the Torah knew some fact that they had no way of knowing or imagining, and that science is now confirming that fact. He has a couple of interesting hits but nothing really compelling, and he does not even address the reverse argument, i.e. what to do with scientific facts in the Torah that are irrefutably wrong. But, 85% of the book is utter fantasy. He includes many photos, often which have nothing to do with the subject, but they make the book a prettier package.

Hits

He discusses continental shift, corresponding with the Torah view that there was one ocean and then dry ground formed one continent. Later the land separated into seven continents, and that this is revealed in the Zohar, among other places. This is essentially correct. Cool.

He discusses that there are many more stars than meet the eye, and then shows that they could not have known this without divine knowledge. Of course, anyone who had been in the city, even then, and then went to a flatter and less populated place would easily come to that conclusion. He also tries to play the numbers of stars versus estimates today, but his efforts fall short by a factor of over 50,000 times. Nonetheless, it is interesting so we will rate it cool.

Silliness

The book descends into silliness quickly, with assertions based on “parapsychology”, magic and discredited crackpot theories, which he presents as proven science.

Auriculotherapy, the ear form of the magic cure known as reflexology, is presented as a medical fact. He brings the infamous article on the idolatrous cure known as acupuncture, relating it to the positions of the Tefilin (G-d forbid). Get a grip. Science has not shown these therapies to have any medical value or effect, despite many decades of effort.

He presents the work of Masuru Emoto, trying to prove that speaking of nice concepts makes pretty ice crystals where as saying negative things creates ugly ones. Sadly, no one has ever been able to replicate Mr. Emoto’s work. He does the same with Cleve Backster and making plants grow strong with positive speech and emotion. Mythbusters busted this myth 10 years earlier. He quotes Edgar Mitchell and Edgar Cayce on ESP, claiming Torah has foretold these amazing events. At least Mitchell was only deceived. Cayce was likely a mere carnival act.

Then he goes off the deep end. What is that you say? Oh, yes, even deeper. The Torah’s references to life after death are confirmed by photographs of ghosts. He displays a couple of such photos which circulate widely on ghost believer websites. These are “facts” that science is just coming to grips with according to Cohen. Last I checked, science had not accepted the existence of ghosts. Various demons and creatures from mythical lands mentioned in the Talmud and Zohar are attributed to the scientific discovery that alien cultures have been visiting our planet. He proves this with UFO photos and stories. He certifies prophetic dreams using anecdotes, as scientific admission.

There is more but I could not bring myself to write about it. I’m sure you get it by now. But don’t worry. I am sure the Coming Revolution 2 will be around soon, a guaranteed money maker. Why in blazes do I work productively for a living?

My final recommendation: Read this book for entertainment. Try not to get too offended by the comparisons of Torah ideas to nonsense. Do not, under any circumstances, share this book with someone unaffiliated, if they have any education whatsoever.

11 Comments:

  • This guy is coming to "my" synagogue next month here in Brazil to talk about "how science discovers the truth in the torah" and probably to peddle his book.

    What gets me is that every one of the people who'll attend, is gonna be wooed and will accept unquestioningly his charlatanism, and leave satisfied and reassured of their beliefs. I feel like going there just to call him on his bullshit, but I figure that the ignorant medieval mob there would quickly boo me into silence, or give me grief for my display of critical thought.

    Anyway, thanks for the review!

    By Anonymous closet atheist, at 1:48 PM  

  • There is something in the frum psyche that yearns for independent proof of the divinity of Torah. Perhaps it is lack of faith, or perhaps it is just the desire to have closure on the idea that Torah must be provable.

    Were I there, I would ask simple, non-confrontational questions. I would leave the author a way out. I am never worried about those who cannot think critically about these matters, only about those who might, and might not otherwise get the chance. If they think there is no dispute, they have no reason to start thinking.

    It really bothers me when one of these "proofs" is trotted out in front of educated people. I see the eyes start to roll as they go through the same process of wondering whether they should say anything or just nod and say "that's ... uhhhhh .... interesting".

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 2:10 PM  

  • Your a fcking moroooooonnnnnnn. out the inevitable truth to life the truth that science is proving and its a serious if you see from the first book there is already poof on how science and Torah fits. From there forth you already have to believe in the metaphysical and just to tell you from first hand experience i have felt what auriculotheraphy does and ACUPUNCTURE. It is a miracle the asians do these works.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:04 PM  

  • Your a fcking moroooooonnnnnnn. out the inevitable truth to life the truth that science is proving and its a serious if you see from the first book there is already poof on how science and Torah fits. From there forth you already have to believe in the metaphysical and just to tell you from first hand experience i have felt what auriculotheraphy does and ACUPUNCTURE. It is a miracle the asians do these works.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:04 PM  

  • As H.A Gadamer so perfectly describes in "Truth and Method" ALL READINGS OF ALL TEXTS ARE BIASED. There is no such thing as an unbiased interpretation of any text. When you say "educated" you seem to forget Derrida, Hiedegger, Husseral (Jewish) and the whole problem of textuality , science and truth. If you are looking for material truths, you find them in spirtual explanations unless accept a metaphysic that embraces trans spacial, trans temporal causality, and all Modeern Physicists do. Perhaps YOU need an education before you critique Rabbi Cohen and his near perfect book. He's is on a level of knowledge you can't even imagine because you lack a developed mind for metaphysics. Sorry, but in you ignorance, you miss the point. The Rabbi is Right On!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 AM  

  • Anon

    Errrrr ..... His point was that science sustains what Torah knew. You admit that science doesn't sustain metaphysics. I assume you also accept that science does not accept Backster, Emoto, magic medicine, UFOs, ghosts, prophetic dreams and other such nonsense on which he bases his arguments. Your pigeon science speak babel and ad hominems aside, how did Cohen make "the point"?

    By Anonymous rebeljew, at 10:45 AM  

  • It is way beneath the Torah to need proof by any kind of science! You either believe or you don´t, but do NOT demean it by discussing about its truth. Even extremely atheistic scientists came to be believers in their old age, when they realized that nature in all its majesty could never have evolved by "coincidence".
    Cohen may not be a very accomplished scientist and he sometimes sounds vague, but he is a believer and I like this about him. I don´t need anyone to prove the Holy Torah to me - not Cohen or any scientist.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:13 AM  

  • Anon #2

    I am inclined to ask ask kiruv for an approach more like yours. In a sense, the Chabad Rebbe was correct in that when one tries to "prove" Torah using science, he assigns science an importance that even science itself does not claim.

    By Anonymous rebeljew, at 9:10 AM  

  • Despite the fact that Sorcery, Idolatry, and Necromancy are all strictly forbidden by Torah, each is given credibility by that worse than silly book.

    As even Masaru Emoto admits, it is definitely not science. It's more like sorcery, where one uses magic words to effect a change in a physical substance.

    Also, Emoto's con game is firmly rooted in his Idolatry. (He prays to the "water god.")

    Finally, why is Z.C. using Necromancy to "prove" that there is a spiritual world, when Torah forbids our having anything to do with it?!

    Why is Zamir Cohen giving credibility to, or having anything to do with...
    Sorcery...
    Idolatry...
    Necromancy...?

    It's not science, and it's not Torah!

    What it is, is very disturbing.

    How he ever got an Haskama on that book is beyond me.

    PS - I tried emailing you with that and some other material, but it seems the email you gave above doesn't work.

    Regards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:33 PM  

  • Wow. Are you being deliberately misleading when you state the zohar is 700 years old? There admittedly has been a debate, but overwhelming conventional opinion is that it was written by rabbi Shimon bar yochai 2000 years ago. You Are trying to paint him as a deliberate liar, when he is merely basing it on conventional opinion, and you are the intentional liar. As they say, self hating Jews cause the most damage. Laminim vilamalshinim

    By Blogger jack smith, at 8:52 PM  

  • Wow. Are you being deliberately misleading when you state the zohar is 700 years old? There admittedly has been a debate, but overwhelming conventional opinion is that it was written by rabbi Shimon bar yochai 2000 years ago. You Are trying to paint him as a deliberate liar, when he is merely basing it on conventional opinion, and you are the intentional liar. As they say, self hating Jews cause the most damage. Laminim vilamalshinim

    By Blogger jack smith, at 8:52 PM  

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