Dealing with the Contradictions Between Torah and Reason
The works of Daat Emet were not written for men of faith who turn reason into the handmaiden of their faith, for their way is foolish.
They do not blanch at deceiving themselves and defrauding their souls if their claims can influence you. Men of faith will use reason and common sense — in the best case — half the time, and more often a third or a quarter of the time. The rest they leave up to their whimsy and growling of their faith, which crushes reason. As the philosopher Benedict de Spinoza wrote in hisTheologico-Political Treatise (chapter 7): “It is an observed fact that men employ their reason to defend conclusions arrived at by reason, but conclusions arrived at by the passions are defended by the passions.”
The work of Daat Emet was written for those who make reason their guiding light and who do not show favoritism to the Holy Writ and the Talmud. The investigation of truth — through reason — is their primary interest; of this approach one may say, “I placed truth before me always.”
Indeed, there is no reason to answer either men of faith or men of reason: the former (who crush reason) will continue on their way, flinging mud in their ignorance, and the latter — possessing wisdom — will learn on their own and draw conclusions based on their reason.
Therefore, in this essay we shall merely examine the ways in which rabbis and philosophers throughout the generations have dealt with the tension or the contradiction between religion and reason, between Torah and science. These ways stemmed, as a rule, from several presuppositions as a starting point for debate. Each person who comes to discuss these issues must know these “guiding principles of coping,” for one who is accustomed to these discussions — particularly with men of faith — knows that there is no way to come to an understanding or a fruitful dialog; he says one thing and is answered with something else. These principles will help us understand the starting points or fundamental assumptions of the one we are speaking to. For example: Daat Emet’s starting point is human reason, and based on that all things are judged, be it a religious text or a scientific article. We cannot come to an understanding with a person whose fundamental assumption is that the Torah is above reason. Even if you show him most clearly that the Torah is a human creation, he will always answer that your conclusion is based on worthless human reason.
These are the guiding principles, and below we will explain each:
- The Torah determines true reality, not the senses nor human reason.
- “The double truth theory”: Torah is separate from reason.
- Torah and reason are one. When there is a contradiction, it must be settled by:
- Making reality match the Torah.
- The determinations of scientists are not precise. It is possible that they erred or did not examine reality well.
- Reality and nature changed over the course of generations.
- Making the Torah match reality.
- Chazal or the Torah spoke of the internal nature and secrets, not about the reality our senses perceive.
- A change in the meaning of the simple text.
- Words of science spoken by Chazal only corresponded to the science of their times and therefore they also erred, but the main points of Halacha or the rules do not change, because they have a Divine source and we do not know their reasons.
- Torah and Chazal are not history or science; they teach us a worldview.
- The Torah is not a science book and does not provide any scientific information; therefore, there is no way for Torah and science to contradict each other.
- Confrontation is to be fled — prohibition against reading critique.
The Torah determines true reality, not the senses nor human reason.
This is the most radical opinion. It rejects human reason, for even if your eyes see and your ears hear something, they are not tools with which to figure out reality. Only the Torah text is such a tool. Of course there is no way to hold a discussion with those who hold this view. He should be told: “Your understanding of the text or its commentaries is based on your reason. Perhaps it is that which is false and not your eyes which see otherwise?”
This approach is brought in the Talmud: “R’ Yochanan said: Our father Jacob did not die. R’ Nachman asked him [based on what is written explicitly in Genesis 50:2: ‘Then Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel…they held there a very great and solemn lamentation’]: Did those who mourned, the embalmers, and gravediggers do it for naught? He answered: I interpret the Scriptures [and based on that I determine that our father Jacob did not die]” (Taanit 5b).
This is the learned opinion of the Tzitz Eliezer (Responsa Tzitz Eliezer part 14, section 98):
“From this Chazal concluded that if our physical senses are contradicted by what we find in the holy Torah, one must assume that his physical senses are in error, that it only appeared as though they were embalming him. Since ‘I interpret the Scripture’ based on the true rules given us at Sinai, it means that the holy One, blessed be He, said so. It is clear that it only seemed to them that he died, but indeed he was alive. Thus did Chazal learn the Torah, and this is the great difference and awesome distance between our knowledge and Chazal’s: in our sinfulness this world is reality and the Torah is interpreted, but Chazal, in their holiness, saw the Torah with their senses, as reality, and when they said they were interpreting the Scriptures, all physical senses were negated, for they lie and mislead. It only seemed that they were embalming.”
“The double truth theory”: Torah is separate from reason.
The Muslim philosopher Averroes (Ibn Rushd; see Encyclopedia Hebraica, entries Ibn Rushd, Ibn Rasidayim, volume 1, pg. 240-242) said that there were two truths, and even if they contradicted each other, both must be upheld. A Jew, Isaac Albalag (see Encyclopedia Hebraica, entry Albalag, Isaac) followed in his footsteps. “In cases when the view of the Torah contradicts the conclusions of philosophy [reason], he says that as a believer one must believe in the truth of the Torah, and as a philosopher one must believe in the truth of philosophy, seeking no compromise between them.”
One who champions this approach will accept the arguments of Daat Emet as a philosopher, but will reject them as a believer.
Torah and reason are one. When there is a contradiction, it must be settled.
The determinations of scientists are not precise.
It is possible that they erred or did not examine reality well.
This is the opinion of the Tanna R’ Ishmael, who explained, using the Scriptures, that the female embryo is formed within 80 days (as opposed to the male, which is formed after 40 days). Though the Sages brought an experiment run by the Greeks as proof, R’ Ishmael rejected their proof, claiming that the experiment was in error.
The Sages brought proof from the real-life case showing that the male and female embryos were formed at 41 days, that is, from the experiment on the female slaves of Queen of Alexandria, whose bellies were opened after they were inseminated, and it was seen that the embryos were developed at 41 days. R’ Ishmael answered them: the experiment was in error, for the female embryos which were fully formed in all their limbs were implanted 40 days before the slaves were sentenced to death and placed in locked rooms. The sages answered: “Did they not give the women an abortificant to be sure they had not been impregnated earlier?” R’ Ishmael answered them: “There are women upon whom the drug has no influence.”
R’ Ishmael rejects the results of the experiment, even if he has to use a far-fetched excuse, that the female embryos were implanted earlier, because of his exegesis on the Torah.
To quote from the original: “[The Sages] told R’ Ishamel: There was an incident where Cleopatra, queen of Alexandria, judged her maidservants to death. [The maidservants were isolated and inseminated; then] they examined them and found that both [male and female embryos] were fully formed at 41 days! He said to them: I bring you a proof from the Torah, and you bring me proof from the fools…It can be said that the females were implanted 40 days before the males. Then what about the Sages? [According to them, the maidservants] were given an abortificant. Then what about R’ Yishmael? [According to his view,] there are those upon whom that drug does not work.” (Niddah 30b).
The Rashba [Responsa of the Rashba, part I, section 98] also adopts this position. In discussing claims that people have seen sheep with five legs surviving for longer than a year, contrary to the Talmud’s opinion that such an animal is treifa and will not live longer than a year, he wrote: “If you saw and heard that there is one who is lenient and permits those with excess [limbs], or is lenient on anything which our sages counted as treifa, do not listen to him, for such a thing shall not be in Israel. One who permits this seems to me as one who ridicules the words of the Sages. I am going on at length about this so that you and all who fear the word of G‑d will have a built up fence, and so that the words of the holy Sages will not be as some ruined fence upon which the fox play…Even if several say that they have seen it, we refute them so that the words of the Sages will be upheld and not ridiculed.” That is, we do not accept testimony which contradicts the opinions of Chazal; we rather conclude that the witnesses erred and that the animal did not live longer than a year, it simply seemed to them to do so.
This approach is, of course, baseless in our days, for observations can be tested by anyone who wishes to do so. Now there are ultrasounds which can show and prove that there is no difference between the fetal development of a male and a female. We can follow calves and other animals born with five legs and see how many years they live.
Reality and nature changed over the course of generations.
The Chazon Ish, in Laws of Treifot section 5, paragraph three, says that statements of medical doctors should not be upheld in contradiction to the Sages’ words, “which are as pegs stuck fast forever.” In his opinion, changes have occurred in reality and nature, and Halacha was established based on the reality of Chazal’s era. This argument is in error, for in several fields it is clear that reality has not changed; take, for example, astronomy (see Pamphlet 4and the essay The Knowledge of the Sages on the Structure of the World). There are also cases in which reason cannot fathom changes, as in the build of the womb (Pamphlet 7). In addition, this approach is not consistent; sometimes Halacha does not change and sometimes it does, as explained in Pamphlet 8.
Making the Torah match reality — Chazal or the Torah spoke of the internal nature and secrets, not about the reality our senses perceive.
The Maharal of Prague (Yehuda Löwe the son of Betzalel, 1512-1609) took the following approach in his book Be’er HaGolah, the sixth part: “But they [Chazal] spoke [not of nature itself but rather] about the causes which determine nature, and one who denies this denies faith and the Torah…For their words are secret and hidden.” An example which well illustrates this phenomenon is the responsa by the Ben Ish Chai in his book Ben Yehoyada on Pesachim: “What the Jewish Sages said, that the sun travels below the firmament during the day and at night it travels above the firmament, does not apply to the body of the sun but speaks of its spiritual power.” How amazing: the body of the sun travels below the visible surface of the earth but its spiritual power is above the firmament.
One cannot hold a discussion with a person who relies on secrets and hidden causes when the plain text does not harmonize with reason and reality; he will upend anything said and will interpret it all according to his heart’s whim.
Making the Torah match reality through a change in the plain meaning of text.
This is Maimonides’ approach (Guide to the Perplexed, part II, chapter 25). “Know that our rejection of the view that the world is pre-existent is not based on the Torah verses speaking of the world’s creation de novo [from naught]. For these verses do not imply creation de novo more than other verses imply G-d’s physical nature; and the gates of interpretation are not sealed before us regarding the issue of creation de novo, so that we could have interpreted [the relevant verses] as we have done in order to deny [the concept of G-d’s] physical nature. Nay, it might have been even simpler to do that, interpreting those verses so as to confirm the world’s pre-existence, compared to the way we have interpreted the verses [speaking of G-d’s physical nature] in order to deny the concept of the Blessed One’s corporeality. Yet, two reasons have brought us not to do that [concerning the concept of the world’s pre-existence] and not to accept that concept. The first of them is that, while G-d’s non-corporeality can be demonstrated logically… the world’s pre-existence cannot be so demonstrated, and therefore there is no reason to overturn the Scriptures.”
Anything which reason demands will overturn the Scriptures and they will be interpreted to harmonize with reason.
Based on this approach, there are those who reject the plain meaning of the zoological error enshrined in the Torah (Leviticus 11:5-6): “The shafan[hyrax], although it brings up its cud, has no true hoofs; it is unclean for you. The arnevet [hare], although it brings up its cud, has no true hoofs; it is unclean for you,” and reinterpret it in accord with reality:
- The shafan and arnevet are different animals [some say types of camels] which are ruminants, as Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch opined; see Pamphlet 3.
- The words maalat gera [brings up the cud] are interpreted to mean the movement of the lips as though the animal were chewing its cud, as the Seredei Aish said in a statement brought in Pamphlet 3.
It should be noted that Maimonides only changes the meaning of the Scriptures in accordance with reason, but he plainly rejects the words of Chazal when he supposes that they are in error.
Guide to the Perplexed part II, chapter 8: “Indeed, in matters of deliberation everyone spoke according to the results of his own investigations, therefore in this field one should believe the view that has been proven” (be it the sages of the Talmud or the philosophers). Similarly, in part III, chapter 14: “Do not ask me to make all that they said about astronomy agree with the real state of things, for the level of knowledge then was deficient, and they spoke not through tradition received from the prophets, but from what they understood as scholars in their generation or received from the scholars of their generation. That is not a reason to deny the veracity of things which match reality, or to say that [the demonstration of] these things’ reality is merely accidental. However, wherever a man’s words can be interpreted to agree with demonstrable reality, this is the approach to be taken by the superior person who upholds the truth so as to follow it.”
A person who follows one of the above approaches disagrees with the two basic assumptions of Daat Emet. One is that the interpretation of the Torah and the Talmud should follow the reasonable principles of interpretation acceptable for any other text, as Ibn Ezra wrote on Daniel 1:1, “How is it possible in a human language that a man should speak one word and mean another? One who supposes so would be considered a madman…It is better to say ‘I do not know’ than to distort the words of the living G‑d.” This is alsoSpinoza’s opinion in Theologico-Political Treatise (chapter 7): “Scriptural interpretation proceeds by the examination of Scripture.” You cannot study and understand the Torah except from its plain meaning, as is the case for any written text.
The second is an understanding of science as information which is imposed on man’s consciousness, as defined by Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz OBM (Judaism, the Jewish People, and the State of Israel, pg. 340): “We have some information about the world and nature — the fruit of scientific research…to the extent that this knowledge and understanding has been achieved by science it is psychologically imposed on the one who understands it, and he is not free to ignore it; for him, it is on the level of certainty, even be it against his will, unless in subsequent use of the scientific method some error or flaw in the conclusions is revealed.”
Words of science spoken by Chazal only corresponded to the science of their times and therefore they also erred, but the basis of Halacha does not change, because it stems from a Divine source and we do not know the ultimate reason for it.
This is the approach taken by Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler OBM in MichtavM’Eliyahu, volume four, pg. 356: “Chazal knew Halacha as tradition from earlier generations…but when they give naturalistic explanations those explanations are not obligating. Quite the opposite, it is the law which leads to the explanation; the reason mentioned in the Gemara is not the only possible reason for the issue. If they sometimes gave explanations based on the knowledge of nature in their times, we must search for other explanations which uphold the law according to the knowledge of nature in our times.” This idea does not work when reality cannot be separated from Halacha, such as the statement that a wolf projects venom when preying upon an animal, as we wrote in Pamphlet 2; this approach is also not consistent, as we explained inPamphlet 8.
Torah and Chazal are not history or science; they teach us a worldview.
In the opinion of Rabbi Mordechai Breuer (Shamatin, Year 9 , issues 36-37), Chazal did not mean to pass historical information down the generations; they meant to teach us a worldview, and in learning the chronology and history of the Persian empire we can skip over what Chazal said. Rabbi Samuel Cohen, in his book Mavo L’Sifrei Shivat Zion B’Miqra also held this opinion, and wrote: “Chazal saw the works of the Prophets and Writings as works of ethics to straighten out the hearts of the Jewish people and their actions…Chazal did not investigate history and chronology, and their words were meant educationally, with a unique viewpoint upon historical events, not based on the viewpoint of simple men.”
This approach is similar to the approach of Prof. Leibowitz, brought below, but it supposes that the holy writings supply educational information.
The Torah is not a science book and does not provide any scientific information; therefore, there is no way for Torah and science to contradict each other.
This is Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s approach; in Judaism, the Jewish People, and the State of Israel, pg. 339, he states: “The whole issue of the conflict between science and faith, and all attempts to verify the Torah based on scientific research, and particularly the ridiculous attempts “to rescue” the veracity of the Torah by casting doubt on the certainty of results obtained through the scientific method or by explaining that “scientific truths” are uncertain and are merely probable while the Torah is absolutely true — all these are absolute errors in understanding of science and grave misgivings from the viewpoint of religious faith…The Torah is not a source of scientific information; it is a source for fear of G‑d, love of G‑d, and worship of G‑d.”
Prof. Leibowitz’s approach is that the Holy Writ and Halacha are human creations, and therefore it is no wonder that they err. It is the human creation (the Oral Law) which determines the word of G‑d. Even though this is a paradox, this is the dogma of Judaism. “Man, as a human being, determines the worship of G‑d.”
The disagreement between Daat Emet and Prof. Leibowitz OBM is in accepting a supreme value. According to Leibowitz this supreme value is the worship of G‑d, while according to Daat Emet, man is the supreme value.
Confrontation is to be fled — the prohibition against reading critique.
This custom is found throughout the generations, from the period of Chazal until our times. The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10:1) says: “And those who have no portion in the World to Come…R’ Akiva says: even those who read the external books.” We have already expanded upon this issue in the portion ofShelach. We will, though, quote the words of the Maharal of Prague in his bookBe’er HaGolah, the sixth part, for his words are very similar to the responses of contemporary rabbis to Daat Emet. “It would be appropriate to conclude our words here, if not for the fact that a book, written by a Jew [as is the case for Daat Emet]…when I read it, my heart was torn and my spirit was crushed, and I said ‘Woe to my eyes which have seen such, and woe to my ears which have heard such things’…. How dare he speak so about the Sages, as though they were living in his times and were friends of his! This never occurred among the Jewish people until this generation [1512-1609]. … This man does not understand the statements of the sages, not even one of the slightest things they said, and therefore this book is one of the external books which one is forbidden to read. For anyone who follows the teachings of Moses and believes in the Written and Oral Torah, this book should be considered something which should not be seen or found in his possession. He should not look at it, nor look physically nor deliberate on it.”
After this introduction we will examine — as an illustration — the answers of rabbis to the issue of lice, worms, and mice, which according to Chazal are created from inanimate matter (Pamphlet 1). We will see how they jump from approach to approach with no consistency or set course. From this example you can draw conclusions about the rest.
First we will mention what we know today according to science, and we will also discuss what scientists have known throughout history. In the Encyclopedia Hebraica, entry abiogenesis [formation of life from non-living matter] it is written: “Formation of living matter or living creatures from inanimate material. The ancients believed that creatures like insects and reptiles, and even fish and mice, sprung into existence from mold, from rotten organic material, or from mud. This opinion was based on the appearance of these creatures in those materials with no apparent living source. Under the influence of Aristotle, this opinion reigned in medieval biology until the 17th century. Yet, it had been decisively proven that in all these cases living creatures were not formed from anything but parents whom they resemble. The problem ofabiogenesis was raised once again in the 19th century, with the discovery of viruses. But here, too, it was proven, mainly by Pasteur, that materials with any spore of life removed will never give birth to living creatures. Since then the rule that there is no actual abiogensis has gained strength; ‘there is no life except from life.’ This rule holds true, undoubtedly, for the natural reality which currently prevails upon Earth.”
Any reasonable person who knows that until the 17th century everyone thought that there was spontaneous generation of life from the inanimate, and who reads in the Talmud and in the writings of rabbis down to the 17th century explicit words about creatures which do not sexually reproduce (Rashi: “Lice do not sexually reproduce, they are created from the flesh of man”; The Tosafot: “It does not sexually reproduce, it comes from man’s sweat”; Rabbeynu Asher: “The white lice on the head come from old clothes”; Rabbeynu Nissim: “It is made from dust; it does not sexually reproduce”; Maimonides: “The wasp is born from mold”; see Pamphlet 1) will come to a plain and simple conclusion: the Holy Spirit did not whisper the rejection of abiogenesis to our rabbis, and left that discovery to gentile scientists.
We will now bring the answer given by Rabbi Yaakov Segal, Rosh Yeshiva of Bircat Yosef:
“The lice which Chazal permitted us to kill are those whose eggs we cannot see because they are too small. This is the explicit implication of the Gemara. A judge, and any person, can only judge by what his eyes see. Therefore: When there are invisible eggs on a special nutritive surface like sweat or mold, required for the development of the miniature eggs, those eggs are considered by Halacha as lice born of that sweat and not of the invisible eggs. (Similarly, we do not say that the human embryo is created of chromosomes and molecules, though it is true.) Therefore, Halachically they are not considered to have grown from the eggs or from sexual reproduction.”
Based on Rabbi Segal’s answer, we can see that he supposes the Torah (including the Talmud) and reason are synonymous and when there is a contradiction we must settle it.
The first method of reconciliation is emasculating and distorting what the Sages wrote in the Talmud, as we will show.
The Talmud (Shabbat 107b) says: “Rabbi Eliezer said: One who kills a louse on the Sabbath is as one who kills a camel on the Sabbath [which is forbidden]. R’ Joseph asked: The Sages disagree with Rabbi Eliezer only concerning lice [and permit killing it on the Sabbath], since it does not sexually reproduce, but agree with him about all other insects and reptiles, which do sexually reproduce [saying that they may not be killed]. Both sides base their views on comparison to the rams [slaughtered in order to use their skins in construction of the Tabernacle]. Rabbi Eliezer thought that just as killing rams entails taking their souls, so [it is forbidden to kill] anything whose soul would be taken thereby. The rabbis thought that just as rams sexually reproduce, so [it is forbidden to kill] anything that sexually reproduces [from which it follows that lice do not sexually reproduce]. Abaye asked Rav Joseph: Do lice not sexually reproduce? Have we not learned that the holy One, blessed be He, sits and nourishes all from the horns of rams to lice eggs? [Meaning that lice have eggs and therefore must sexually reproduce.] Rav Joseph answered him: This is a species called lice eggs.”
The Gemara says lice don’t sexually reproduce, and Rabbi Segal explains Chazal’s words as meaning “Lice eggs are so small that they are not visible, and therefore they are considered as not sexually reproducing.”
The Talmud’s comparison of lice and rams, according to Rabbi Segal, would be: “Rams sexually reproduce and their newborns are visible, but lice, though they sexually reproduce, have eggs which are not visible.”
The continuation of the Gemara does not work at all with Rabbi Segal’s approach. Abaye asks: “Do lice not sexually reproduce?” According to Rabbi Segal, this means “Are lice eggs not visible?” For in his approach, the Talmudic sages knew that lice sexually reproduce, but they did not see the eggs. His words seem ridiculous to any reasonable person who understands the Talmudic text and explains it like any other text.
According to this “reconciliation,” the Halacha has changed today, and it would be forbidden to kill lice, since their eggs are visible.
Since not all Halachic arbiters allow changing the Halacha, Segal tries to reconcile the contradiction in another way, one which will still permit the killing of lice on the Sabbath.
The other way is: “When it is written in the Gemara that lice do not sexually reproduce, it does not mean that they do not hatch from eggs. It means that they have an inferior level of reproduction, and therefore their lives are also inferior.” The reasons they are considered inferior are:
- They grow only where there is mold and sweat.
- Many lice are conceived through parthenogenesis.
- Even the great experts know very little about the reproductive habits of lice.
- Halacha determined, in the era of Chazal, that lice eggs were not visible. Reality has now changed and the eggs are visible, but the Halacha still stands.
- The Sages explicated the law they received based on the knowledge of their generation and now science knows otherwise.
Reasons A and B do not harmonize with the Talmudic text, neither with the phrase “does not reproduce” nor with the Gemara’s answer that there is a species called “lice eggs.” The Gemara could have answered as Segal does.
Reason C belongs to the principle “The determinations of scientists are not precise. It is possible that they erred or did not examine reality well.”
Reason D belongs to the Chazon Ish’s principle “Reality and nature changed over the course of generations.”
Reason E follows the approach of Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, that Halacha was given at Sinai with no reasons attached, and Chazal gave reasons from their own knowledge; they may have erred.
The third way of “reconciling” agrees with Daat Emet: “There is a third opinion, such as that of Daat Emet, which was not accepted by the majority of Halachic arbiters — we do not rely on all these permissions, for we suppose that Chazal permitted [killing lice] based on the science of their generation, and now science knows otherwise.”
Rabbi Segal, in his many attempts, is as one who shoots in all directions. He fulfills the words of Spinoza: “Conclusions arrived at by the passions are defended by the passions.”
Rabbi Stein’s answers:
- “Chazal’s view on this matter does indeed match quite well the views which were common in the scientific world of their era. We might suppose that if there were now a Sanhedrin the laws on this issue would be re-examined, based on what we now know. In introduction 5 it is said that we judge only based on what we see — Sanhedrin 6 and according to the general rule that ‘[the Torah] is not in the Heavens’ (see Deuteronomy 30:12).”
- “Rabbis of recent generations dealt with this question, including Rabbi Isaac Lamperonti (the Pachad Yitzchak). He ruled stringently, against custom, and said that lice should not be killed on the Sabbath.”
- “It is reasonable that there is no spontaneous generation (abiogenesis), but the rule that ‘I did not see’ is no proof still holds. We also know of the dispute between expert microbiologists of our era about the possibility of creating life from inanimate matter (see, for example, the entry life in Encyclopedia Hebraica, volume XVII, pg. 375). The words of the Torah are eternal, and were given even for those generations in which microbiologists may succeed in creating life. It must be said that the view which holds that life cannot be created, the view Daat Emet holds, is more comfortable on a surface propagandistic level. Such a view gives more validity to the assertion that there is a Creator who directs Creation, and only He can create life.”
- “Religious Jews accept this [the Talmud’s permission for killing lice], as stated in the Gemara, Rosh Hashanah 2. One who does not believe this, though, is not a heretic. See Introduction 3.”
Answers A and B agree with Daat Emet.
Answer C belongs to the principle “The determinations of scientists are not precise. It is possible that they erred or did not examine reality well.”
Answer D allows one to believe in the validity of the scientific words of the Sages or not.
One who follows Rabbi Dov Stein’s response will see a circularity to his answers as he goes on. At the start Rabbi Stein accepts the words of Daat Emet, then he tries, one way or the other, to answer them, and in the end once again admits what Daat Emet is saying.
We could quickly summarize all of Dov Stein’s answers: the Jewish legal, Halachic, system was set by the Jewish legislature, the Sanhedrin. We do not now have such a legislature and so earlier laws, which were set in the first centuries CE remain in place until a human legislature (Sanhedrin) will be revived and will adapt the laws to the public spirit and to today’s scientific knowledge.
In short: All who make reason their guiding light will simply and definitely conclude that the Holy Writ and the Halacha are human creations like any other human creations. All who make faith their guiding light will fulfill the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe: “If a man lacks the courage to face reality, he will try to justify his negative behavior with all kinds of pretexts and justifications instead of correcting it…In this case, because he will become entrapped in a mess he can find no way out of, he will try to invent a ‘personal philosophy’ for himself, one which will justify his negative behavior and reinforce it” (Faith and Science, pg. 38).