The Clockmaker Theory

Did God Stick Around? The Clockmaker Theory

After conclusively proving God’s existence, it is incumbent upon us to deal with a subject in philosophy called the “Clock Maker Theory.” This theory advanced by leading philosophers asserts that God created the universe, but is not actively involved in its operation, just as a clockmaker makes a clock that then operates independently of him. Judaism claims otherwise – God is actively involved in running the universe and shaping history.

How do we know that God runs the world? Is there an objective, scientifically valid proof that God is orchestrating history? Or, is there perhaps legitimacy to the Clockmaker Theory.

In the words of famed nuclear physicist, Dr. Gerald Schroeder:

I recently met in Jerusalem with Professor Leon Lederman, Nobel Prize winning physicist. We were talking science, obviously. And as the conversation went on, I said, “What about spirituality, Leon?” And he said to me, “Schroeder, I’ll talk science with you, but as far as spirituality, speak to the people across the street, the theologians.” But then he continued, and he said, “But I do find something spooky about the people of Israel coming back to the Land of Israel.”

Interesting…. Prof. Lederman found nothing spooky about the Eskimos eating fish at the Arctic Circle. And he found nothing spooky about Greeks eating Musika in Athens. But he finds something real spooky about Jews eating falafel on Jaffa Street. Because it shouldn’t have happened. It doesn’t make sense historically that the Jews would come back to the Land of Israel. Yet that’s what happened.

…. there is some monkey business going on with history that makes it not all just random. That there’s some direction to the flow of history.[1]

King Frederick the Great once asked his Lutheran pastor to provide him with a visible proof of God’s existence. The pastor answered with just two words: The Jews.

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, wrote in 1898:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?[2]

Between 250 CE and 1948, a period of 1700 years, the Jews were expelled from more than eighty countries. That’s a new country approximately every 22 years. To provide a few examples, the Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, and Moravia. History shows that a people expelled from its land assimilate into the new land within three to four generations. How is it possible that the Jews have continued to survive as a distinct nation for over 2,000 years, and this despite not one, but eighty expulsions?

The Torah predicts that the Jews will be expelled from the Land of Israel, which will then become barren and desolate, but that the Jews will later return to Israel. Both parts of this prediction fly in the face of the norms of world history.

The Land of Israel is located at the meeting point of Europe, Asia, and Africa. In ancient times, it was a highly prized trade route, leading all the successive ancient empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome, etc.) to give high priority to conquering it. It was also rich in olives (used for olive oil), grapes (used for wine), and other agricultural crops. It is in the interests of conquering powers to colonize and develop the lands they conquer, especially a land that is so geographically important. Yet, after the Jews were expelled by the Romans, the land fell into desolation for nineteen centuries, just as the Bible prophesized.

Mark Twain traveled to Palestine in 1867. He described the utter desolation and barrenness that he witnessed there:

A desolate land whose soil, though more than sufficiently rich, produces only thorn bush and thistle—a silent mourning expanse. There is such desolation; one cannot even imagine that life’s beauty and productivity once existed here… The Land of Israel dwells in sackcloth and ashes. The spell of a curse hovers over her, which has blighted her fields and imprisoned her mighty potential with shackles. The Land of Israel is wasteland, devoid of delight.[3]

Remarkably, as soon as the Jews returned, starting in the late 19th century, the land became fertile and reinvigorated.

The return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland after 1900 years is unprecedented in history, and can only be described as miraculous. Moreover, the achievement of the Jews of Israel since the establishment of the modern State of Israel fifty-five years ago is beyond the norm of reason or logic. It is the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world’s population, yet it boasts accomplishments that have changed the world:

  • The cell phone, which today is viewed by most of the world community as “indispensable,” was developed in Israel by the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.
  • Every contemporary computer has Windows NT or XP. Most of these operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. Four young Israelis developed the technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ in 1996.
  • According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry’s most impenetrable flight security. U.S. officials now look to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.
  • Israel’s $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined. Israel’s GDP ranks number third among developing countries, following behind only Hong Kong and Singapore. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.
  • Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin—109 per 10,000 people—as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds, right behind the United States.
  • On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.
  • Israel has the world’s second highest per capita of new books.
  • Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.
  • Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.
  • Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany.
  • Israeli innovations have had a major impact on the field of medicine: Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer. An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. (Every year in U.S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.) Israel developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders. Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart’s mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors. A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the ClearLight device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct—all without damaging surroundings skin or tissue.
  • An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California’s Mojave Desert.
  • On October 6, 2004, two Israeli scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research into ways that cells can shut down bad proteins and enzymes. This amazing research is being utilized to learn how to end the creation and proliferation of cancer cells and neurological disorders.

All the above was accomplished while engaged in intermittent wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously strained by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other country on earth.

The Torah also prophesizes that the Jews will return to Israel en masse from the four corners of the world. In the last fifty years, Israel has absorbed Jewish immigrants from every continent and over seventy different countries. Israel, at the time of its inception in 1948, had a population of 600,000. Within its first five years, it absorbed 600,000 immigrants, doubling its own size. Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. In 1984 and again in 1991, Israel airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel.

This entire sequence of events, prophesized in the Books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, defies nature, history, and logic.

A brief overview of the history of modern Israel also reads like a litany of miracles:

On the very day in May 1948, that the modern state of Israel declared its independence, five Arab armies attacked. The incipient state of 600,000 Jews was surrounded and attacked by nations populated by 50 million Arabs. Azzah Pasha, then the Secretary General of the Arab League, proclaimed over the airwaves: “This will be a war of extermination, and a momentous massacre.”

The British, who were in control of Palestine from 1917 until the day the Jewish state was declared, prohibited the Jews from acquiring arms or military training. Thus, the army whose job it was to resist the well-equipped, British-trained invading Arab armies was a rag-tag group, many of whom were Holocaust survivors who were sent into battle on the very day they landed in Israel.

Yet, the fledgling Jewish state miraculously survived the onslaught. In fact, when the armistice lines were drawn in January 1949, the Jews had gained 21% more land than had been originally given to them in the United Nations partition plan.

Nineteen years later, a coalition of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan decided the time had come to annihilate the Jewish state. They were equipped with $3,000,000,000 of military aid from the Soviet Union. Egypt demanded that the United Nation’s peace-keeping force stationed in Sinai leave, a demand to which they promptly complied. The four Arab armies then deployed on Israel’s borders, backed up by the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and Sudan. President Nasser of Egypt then closed the Straits of Tehran, thus blocking all shipping to Israel’s southern port of Eilat. This was an internationally recognized act of war.

Israelis, out-numbered and out-armed, listened to daily Arab broadcasts threatening to drive them into the sea. And who would stop them? Not one nation in the world was willing to stand behind Israel or provide them with arms. The mood in the young Jewish state was so despairing that when the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol addressed the nation, adjuring them to be strong, he himself broke down and wept.

Miraculously, the war that broke out was over in six whirlwind days. Instead of defeat, Israel scored a stunning victory. To everyone’s consternation, the Jews had tripled their territory, and had regained, after 2,000 years, their holiest sites in Jerusalem, Hebron, and Bethlehem.

On October 6, 1973, Israel was again engaged in war. It was called the Yom Kippur war because most Israelis had been in their synagogues, fasting and praying when they were suddenly attacked. Egypt attacked the Sinai Peninsula and Syria attacked the Golan Heights. In total, eleven Arab nations attacked Israel. Remember that Israel is a country smaller than the state of New Jersey. Miraculously, the Jews gained all strategic locations, threatened Damascus, and headed for Cairo. Two major Arab nations were seriously threatened, so Russia called for peace. Israel survived yet another attempt at annihilation.

In 1991, Israel was threatened again, this time by Iraq. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the United States attacked Iraq. Saddam Hussein vowed to “incinerate” Israel with his Scud missiles. While the United States ordered Israel to refrain from self-defense and retaliation, Iraq showered 39 Scud missiles on the most densely populated area of Israel. Miraculously, only one Israeli was killed.

In the wake of this war, the prestigious scientific journal Nature,[4] as well as M.I.T.,[5] published articles trying to evaluate how Israel was spared massive tragedy. Scientifically and militarily, the casualties should have been far greater. In previous wars elsewhere in the world in which V-2 Scud missiles were launched, massive casualties ensued. Even during the Gulf War, one Iraqi Scud missile striking Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killed 28 American soldiers.

Let’s analyze the miracle of the Gulf War in Israel. In 1944, when Germany attacked London, the ratio of casualties was five deaths and eleven severe injuries per missile. In the Tehran War, 1980-88, Iraq launched Scud missiles against Iran. In this war, the ratio of casualties was approximately thirteen deaths and thirty severe injuries per missile. Relative to these statistics, Israel should have suffered between 195 and 507 total deaths from 39 Scuds. Instead, it suffered only one death. (The population differential was: Iran 300/hectare and London 43/hectare. The population in Tel Aviv, which suffered the major brunt of the missile attacks, was 70/hectare. That’s more than 1.6 times the amount of London!) In terms of severe injuries, Israel could have been expected to suffer between 429 and 1170 severe injuries from 39 Scud missiles. Instead, there were 230 injuries. Of these, ten were moderate, and only one was severe.

In Israeli television broadcasts after every missile attack, the fervently secular news reporters would again and again use the word, “miracle.”

Interestingly, West Point Military Academy in its courses on military strategy does not attempt to analyze Israel’s wars. It omits them from its curriculum because they do not follow the normal laws of warfare.

Objectively, we must conclude that such miraculous events suggest Divine intervention in human affairs. God not only created the universe; God is still involved in its workings.

[1]  Genesis & the Big Bang, (Bantam Books, 1991)
[2] Concerning the Jews, Harper Magazine, March, 1898
[3] The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain, London 1881
[4]  Nature, January 1993, Why were the Casualties So Low
[5]  Casualties and Damage from Scud Attacks in the 19991 Gulf War (MIT, Defense and Arms Control Studies, January, 1993)

excerpt from Search Judaism

by  Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer
Posted in: Hot Topics;  Jewish Beliefs & Philosophy