Daas Torah: "Why don't we try another dichotomy. If you think his [Rambam] belief that studying of science leads to a greater appreciation of G-d is applicable to all times and all places - than you would conclude that he made a major mistake. On the other hand if you view that he only wrote that for his generation then you would assume that he would have abandoned it in our age when we see being a scientist does not produce a better understanding of G-d than studying Torah."
רפאל I do not think that the Rambam would abandon his view. True, he would be shocked by Chilonim studying Science and not finding G-d. But his directives were for Torah Jews. I submit he would be appalled by the intellectual corruption in today's Yeshiva world, in no small part caused by the ignorance of Science, davka after it gave birth to insights into Creation that are without precedent.
I think the above exchange demonstrates the gap between the two sides. The Rambam is pictured by my opponents as the Enlightened Man - fearlessly search for truth without regard for the consequence. Urging all men to drop their blinders and no longer fear the Truth which is contained in Science and Philosophy.
This stereotype is simply not supported by the Rambam's own writings. For example the Rambam says that the Morech Nevuchim was not written for everyone. It was specifically written for those who involved in science and philosophy and were bothered by how to integrate the material. Even so he wrote this work with great care - concealing much of his true views as he writes in his introduction. In fact the Rambam was so successfull in concealing what his views were - as manifest by the apparent contradictions between the Moreh Nevuchim and Mishneh Torah - there is no agreement even amongst academics as to the Rambam's true positions on many issues.
Then we have his letters - one of which describes his abandoment of the study of Torah for science and philosophy. Rav Kapach simply says it is a forgery because it is inconsistent with eveything else we know about the Rambam. Then we have the view that the Rambam says that there is no need to study anything besides the Mishneh Torah. Yet he writes in one of his letters that in his yeshiva there was a traditional study of Talmud.
The false fantasy of the Rambam's espousal of fearless search for truth becomes unraveled with his statement that one is not allowed to study works which leads to questions and possible heresy. He says that even a sincere person who is trying to understand Torah - but concludes a view which is heresy - is in fact a heretic.
The Rambam would not walk into Lakewood and knock the shtenders over with the cry - "Go to college and seek the truth - you have nothing to fear!"
One always has to keep in mind the audience for a particular program
A number of years ago Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm wrote a book "Faith and Doubt" which argued for the positive view of having doubt and having searching questions. However tucked away in a footnote 52 he presents a similar position to the above noting Hilchos Avoda Zara (2:3) which proscribes the study of that which may lead to heresy and hence into doubt. "If one reads the passage in Avoda Zara carefully he will note the author's explanation of and qualifications on his prohibition: the inablity of all kinds of mentality to understand philosophic truth...the emphasis on the fact that this is a general decision to be applied to the masses of people... and to casual unsystematic suty... and the fear that such speculation will be undertaken by those who do not know its fundamental principles and methods... Obviously Maimonides was dealing with two principles which had come into conflict - the duty to know G-d rationally, and the obligation to protect the unsophisticated from spiritual confusion...What, however, if the state of society and culture are such that to follow these rules without deviation would result in wholesale abandonment of faith? Would we be justificed in applying these rules regardless of the effects that were to follow? Obviously not.... In Maimondies' days, most peole were covered by his decision in Hilchos Avoda Zara and the minority of accomplished scholars and sophisticated intellects by the law in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah. That was how the halacha protected the integrity of the faith. Today there may be pockets here and there of those who will live in self-contained communities without any access to the great sources of Western Civilization; for them the same decision holds true without change. But most of us, despite our lack of halakhic expertise and our doubtful philosophic sophistication, are such that doubt is ubiquitous with us and if we do not entertain it yet we surely will be exposed to it before long..."
Thus we must acknowledge and be concerned about the consequence of a particular program of study. If a person comes from a culture where Science is the standard of truth - then it might be important to address the issues as R' Slikin is doing. Then again it might be better to simply teach him that the only truth that matters is Torah. However a person who is in the Chareidi society immersed in learning Torah day and night. It is highly unlikely his yiras Shamayim will benefit from a diet of contradictions of Science and Torah and proposed solutions. There are, however, a minority of Charedi Jews that can benefit and therefore should study these issues. It is simply not for everyone.