Yesterday we explained that the last one of the 13 principles of the Jewish faith is the belief in Tehiyat haMetim, or resurrection. We also said that every day, 3 times a day, we mentioned in our Tefila, in the Amidah, that HaShem
exclusively has the power to restore life.
Today and tomorrow I will try to explain a little deeper this important concept.
In Bereshit we read that the Creator created life through inorganic matter. On the fifth day through water and on the sixth day by the dust of earth.
The creation of life from inorganic matter marks a boundary, a frontier that man cannot cross.
In my latest book “Dinosaurs and the Bible” (which has not yet been published) I explained that the Achilles heel of the theory of evolution, which is rarely mentioned in the schools, is the scientific research of the origin of life, i.e., how does science justify the appearance of life from inorganic matter. While the issue is too extensive to summarize in a few words, what the reader should know is that modern science has no definitive, nor convincing answer to explain “life”.
In the early twentieth century, at the height of positivism, scientists believed that very soon, once science explains how life began on our planet, it would be easy to recreate life in a laboratory. Since if life arose from a combination of random processes (=accidents of nature) over millions of years, it is obvious that in a laboratory it will be possible to avoid those millions of years and simply combine all that is needed to produce some simple biological entity, say: a cell.
Nothing was further from reality … Not only that all experiments failed to produce life (such as Stanley Miller, for example, although it is still incredibly cited in biology textbooks) but the more science advanced in its understanding of the genetic elements of life, such as DNA, the phenomenon of biology became more sophisticated than previously thought, ergo, it was much more difficult to argue that life appeared spontaneously through a chain of random processes .
In the words of the eminent British scientist Fred Hoyle (1915-2001):
“Life as we know it, is among other things, dependent on at least 2000 different enzymes. How could the blind forces of the primal sea manage to put together the correct chemical elements to build enzymes? …. The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one in 10 ^ 40,000 (1 over 10, followed by 40,000 zeros) … [this number] is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of Evolution …. These are the odds [for the spontaneous appearance] of just a single, simple cell, without which evolution cannot even get started. Never mind the odds of more advanced compounds like an organ or all the enzymes in a human being. “
Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) also made a dramatic analogy to illustrate the impossibility of the theory that life arose spontaneously from inorganic matter: “Imagine a tornado sweeping through a junk yard, and as it passes on its way, there in its wake is a brand new Boeing 747 Jumbo jet, which of course, has been fashioned and assembled by random chance out of the junk in the yard”
For Hoyle, the likeliness that life has appeared spontaneously through random processes is equal to the probability that the Jumbo jet has been assembled by chance, by the passing of a tornado thru a junkyard.
The emergence of life is a divine phenomenon that humans cannot explain, and cannot imitate. Living creatures were created with a miraculous mechanism that allows us to reproduce ourselves, but ironically we cannot re-produce life out of ourselves, from atoms.
If the origin of life could be explained scientifically, life could be produced from inorganic material in a laboratory, and vice versa.
However, even in our days, when science has advanced so much, and when we know the secrets and codes of DNA, and we can cure and prolong life, and we have learned to manipulate cells and modify genes in a laboratory, and we have developed artificial intelligence and we know how to apply the techniques of nanotechnology to the DNA, it is still impossible to create a living being from atoms.
That impassable frontier between the human and the Divine includes an additional element, which is similar to generating life from nothing organic. That is, Tehiyat haMetim, “restoring life” into a dead body.
Allow me to explain: as already indicated, it is impossible to re-create a living being, say a mosquito (a real mosquito, not a robot-mosquito!) from inorganic matter. Among other reasons, because it would be too complex to assemble and join together all the parts of its tiny body, its organs, its brain, etc. But what if we gave a biologist, equipped with the most modern laboratory in the world, a mosquito with its full body in one piece… .a mosquito that was declared dead, for “natural causes”, only five seconds ago …
Can any scientist restore life into this mosquito, or any other living creature, whose organs are complete, and the connections between organs and all its physiological systems are still in place? Can a human being ever practice, not the re-generation of life but something seemingly simpler: the restoration of life or Tehiyat haMetim? The Jewish answer is NO. The 13th principle includes the belief that Tehiyat haMetim is an insurmountable boundary between the human and the divine.
We human beings have advanced in our understanding and in our control of the phenomenon called “life”, and we are now able even to clone life. However, Tehiyat haMetim, the restoration of life, is and it will always be, the exclusive prerogative of HaShem, the Creator of life.