Where would you look to check if a Kabbalistic end-times prophecy had been fulfilled? How about an article by a Pentagon physicist published in the journal “Technological Forecasting and Social Change”?
Foresee or Prophecy? Data’s the question.
Long before Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, in fact long before anything went rotten in the state of Denmark except logs, Judaism’s Kabbala was making specific, dated predictions about the state of world culture in the distant future. Well, that distant future has come to pass already and data published in an academic journal seems to have vindicated one of the Zohar’s prophetic claims.
But before we explore, is it even feasible to consider using empirical data to test claims of divine revelation? Isn’t faith beyond containment in a test tube or measuring with a meter stick? Not according to the likes of the Amazing Randi, a magician turned science fraud buster. He believes that scientific means can, should, and even must be used to quash the claims of charlatans posing as scientists.
The Randi’s of the world are great for saving us from suckering for dumb or bogus claims masquerading as nature’s truths revealed. But who is out there to save us from missing out on other-worldly realities when true? What if there is such a thing as prophecy? How could we test it if we wanted to? Are there falsifiable hypotheses we could apply to prophetic claims?
If you do know of a litmus test for oracles, it may be time to dust it off and apply it to the Zohar- prediction / science-fulfillment question before us today.
The Zohar’s prediction, a full 1700 years in advance, says that a flood of higher and lower knowledge would inundate the world in the years around 1840 C.E., as a preparation for the Messianic Era. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains in one of his talks that this higher wisdom refers to the teachings of Chassidic philosophy which first became broadly accessible with Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah published around then. And lower wisdom, according to the Rebbe, refers to science.
Now science has been around for a long time. We’ve had Egyptian science, Persian science, Greek science, Talmudic science, Roman science. Did anything special happen in the mid-nineteenth century as far as science is concerned?
The short answer is: Yes! A dizzying array of topics in mathematics, physics and chemistry were all developed around 1840, laying the firm foundations for modern science and technology.
The longer answer is this:
The great mid-nineteenth century mathematicians Cauchy, Gauss, Hamilton, Jacobi and Lobachevski developed complex analysis, partial differential equations, differential geometry, non-Euclidean geometry, linear algebra, quaternions, and analytical mechanics.
The great mid-nineteenth century physicists Fresnel, Carnot, Clausius, Faraday, Mayer, Joule, Kelvin and Maxwell developed the wave theory of light, thermodynamics, electromagnetic induction, conservation of energy, absolute scale of temperature, and electromagnetic equations.
The great mid-nineteenth century chemists von Liebig, Wohler, Frankland, Kekule, van’t Hoff, and Le Bel developed organic chemistry, theory of valency, molecular structure and stereochemistry.
Such a panorama of concurrent intellectual breakthroughs and milestones has not been seen before or since.
Still, all this is qualitative and verbal. True, an expert in the history of science and technology will be able to interpret the unparalleled significance of these developments for our modern world. But is there some kind of quantitative analysis that we can do to compare the years around 1840 C.E. with prior or subsequent periods?
Once again the answer is yes. A Pentagon Physicist, Jonathan Huebner, has plotted major innovations and scientific advances over time compared to world population, using the 7200 key innovations listed in the authoritative text, The History of Science and Technology. The results surprised him. Rather than growing exponentially, or just keeping pace with population growth, innovation actually peaked in the year 1840 and has been declining ever since!
To take another perspective, Huebner charted the number of US patents registered per million people in the US and found that the year 1840 marked the onset of America’s most sudden, extreme and prolonged growth in technological progress ever.
The prophecised date for the flood of scientific knowledge? 1840.
The observed date for the flood of scientific knowledge? 1840.
Was the history textbook written to conform to the Zohar? No.
Was Huebner’s analysis performed to conform to the Zohar? No.
Are we witness here to the Zohar prophecy’s fulfillment? .. .. ..
And if the Zohar prophecy is true, what relevance does science have to the utopian era it heralds? How can science ‘elevate’ the world? And why does the Zohar correlate it to Chassidic philosophy? And what is the relevance for us?
The very same Chassidic discourse that highlighted this Zohar for us, explains its significance as well. You can either await its unfolding in the future or get a taste of things by reading it in Mind Over Matter – The Rebbe on Science, Technology and Medicine, Chapter 9.
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