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    Divinity & the dinosaurs – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. How can Judaism say the universe is 5772 years old when science proves that dinosaurs lived long before this?

    A. There is a widespread view that science and religion are eternal enemies. However, the scientists themselves don’t think so. One scientist after another has pointed to the incredible orderliness of the universe and confirmed that only because the universe is one and orderly – a fundamental teaching of religion – is it possible for science to operate. Albert Einstein said that, given time, science will be able to understand every aspect of the universe. He went so far as to say, “The incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is so comprehensible”.

    I can’t speak for other religions, but Judaism has no problem with these assertions, though the task of Judaism is to teach spirituality and ethics, not to purport to be a science text book. The exact date that the elements of the physical world began is not known, nor could it be. When our tradition uses figures like 5772 some people think it refers not to the physical universe but to the history of human civilisation.

    The Bible itself does not attempt to give a date for any of these events. Chronology is not spelled out in the early chapters of the Torah, and indeed the art of chronology only developed later. The idea that this year is 5772 is not a principle of belief (the dating of the years only began in the 9th century) and there is no doctrinal error in rejecting or amending it. How long ago the dinosaurs appeared on the earth has nothing to do with being a believer.

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