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Monday, November 24, 2014

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Understanding Genesis and science

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Vancouver engineer Daniel Friedmann, 55, published The Genesis One Code in September, a book in which he demonstrates a clear alignment between the times of key events described in the Creation narrative in the book of Genesis with those derived from scientific theory and observation. In a recent interview, Friedmann talked about his goal in writing the book and what he learned in the process.

CJN: You’re an engineer. What was the impetus to tackle The Genesis One Code?

Friedmann: To become an engineer I studied engineering physics, which had a large physics and cosmology component. I realized then that some answers were missing in science, and continued to search for them both in science and in Kabbalah, which I began studying 13 years ago. Once my nephews entered high school and university, I found they had similar questions, and in discussions with them, I became motivated to work harder on the issues. At the same time, I read some work on the Age of the Universe by the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan that got me started on what’s in my book.

CJN: What did you learn in researching and writing it that you didn’t know before?

Friedmann: On the science front, as I updated myself, I found that despite tremendous advances in science, some key fundamentals remained unanswered as they were when I went to school 30 years ago. This reinvigorated me to search further for answers in religion. On the Kabbalah side, I found that the amount of available material is amazing, rivalling science in depth, which is something I had not appreciated before. I also found that there were answers to all kinds of “science topics” that I had not expected.

Most of all, I found a pretty exact correspondence between the Genesis account of the development of the universe and the appearance of life on Earth (as interpreted with the help of other Jewish sources hundreds of years old) and the scientific account of the same events (as developed in the past 50 years or so). It’s enough to give you goose bumps.

Finally I found a Torah reason why science is so accurate in many areas but has struggled with a few key questions for so long. The areas or events that science struggles with correspond precisely to out-of-nothing creations in the Genesis narrative, which cannot by definition be explained by science.

CJN: What is the central nugget of your book that you wish more people knew?

Friedmann: Genesis clearly states that God made most of the universe and life using the powers of nature, and as such, we should not be surprised that we are able to understand most things through the scientific method. Further, the answers that science has recently found have been in our Scriptures for hundreds of years. Finally that we are told in Genesis exactly where events outside of nature occurred and therefore where the scientific method will fail – and that is where it has failed so far! For example, science has failed to explain the beginning of the Big Bang, or the nature and source for the human soul.

CJN: At what demographic is this book targeted? Who do you think would find it interesting and for which audience did you write it?

Friedmann: My motivation was the 15- to 30-year-olds that come out of our secular system believing science has all the answers and the Bible has become somewhat irrelevant at explaining our origins. I wanted them to know that the Bible actually has answers to questions that remain unanswered by science. Since I started writing the book, I have seen interest from all ages.

CJN: Did you have a particular mentor or mentors? If so, who were they and how did they assist or guide you?

Friedmann: My key teachers have been the rabbis of the Vancouver Ohel Ya’Akov Community Kollel, Rabbi Avraham Feigelstock and Rabbi Shmuel Yeshayahu. I attended their classes every week for many years. In addition, they’re always open to my questions, and in particular, to helping me find sources and references to help formulate the answers found in the book.

CJN: What’s your next project?

Friedmann: The Genesis One Code is drawn from Chapter 1 of Genesis and is therefore focused on the development of the universe and the appearance of life on earth. Humankind only gets about three pages in the book. My next project is drawn from Chapters 2 to 11 of Genesis and will be focused on a book on humankind. I plan to demonstrate agreement between Genesis and science on the history of Homo sapiens from their appearance 200,000 years ago until a few thousand years ago.

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