It is written in the first verses of the book of Genesis: “1. In the beginning (Hebrew: “Breishit”) God created the heavens and the earth. 2. And the earth was not formed and empty, and the darkness was on the face of the abyss, and a wind of God moved on the face of the waters. 3. And God said: Let there be light; and there was light. 4. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. ”
Man has always wondered about the origin of the universe. Until the middle of the 20th century, scientific theory held fast to the idea that the universe was eternal, that it had no beginning and no end. The idea that the universe did have a beginning, as stated by the Torah in its first verses, was considered impossible. Science and religion seemed to be at odds with each other. For this reason, the rabbis chose to prohibit questioning the origin of the universe, with this Midrash that says: “Why was the world created with the letter B (” bet “in Hebrew)? Just as the shape of the letter “bet” is closed on three sides and open only on the front, so you do not have permission to investigate what is above (the heavens), what is below (the deep), what which was before (of the six days of creation). You only have permission to investigate from the moment the world was created.”
In 1946, George Gamow surprised the scientific community with a new theory that stated that the universe started at a precise moment, about 15 billion years ago and that it also came out of nowhere. Gamow did not try to explain the origin of that huge burst of energy and light, popularly known as the Big Bang. But he did explain that when something or Someone said, “Let there be light,” the tremendous energy that was created was the basis of all matter that exists in the universe. In 1960, it was technically possible to detect the electromagnetic radiation predicted by the Big Bang theory and thus validate its conclusions.
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson presents us with a different stance: “Instead of thinking of creation as if nothing had previously existed and then, in an instant, everything suddenly existed, Thought in Process takes a more developmental point of view”. Verse 1: 2 of Genesis, says Artson, leads us to recognize that this “unformatted and empty” darkness, the “tohu va-vohu” in Hebrew, already existed when God “began to create” heaven and earth, using the terms with which the New Jewish Publication Society translates the concept of Breishit Bara. God begins to speak to organize and diversify the world more and more. That is why Artson says that creation is a continuous process that never ends.
Scientists like George Gamow and theologians like Rabbi Artson have taken concepts from each other to explain where it all came from. Neither has been able to answer the big question without leaning on the other. Creation continues to be the terrain where science and religion meet.
By Marcos Gojman
Bibliography: Benjamin Blech: “Understanding Judaism”, Bradley Shavit Artson: “Ba derej, en el camino, a presentation of Theology in Process”.