He sets the limits pretty far out, for non-halachic material. Halacha has to be interpreted as Chazal say, which may well be non-literal, but halacha is not affected by changes in science (pace spontaneous generation of body lice).
First, he dismisses "ein mikra yotzei miydei pshuto" -
Then, he surveys the sources.
- R' Saadia Gaon (9th century) - if science and literal readings conflict, allegorize the verses. Four places for non-literal readings: contradicts the senses, e.g. Eim Col Chai not being mother of animals; contradicts the intellect, e.g. anthropomorphizing God; contradictory verses; Chazal's presumption of non-literalism.
- Rambam (12th century) (Guide II:25) - if philosophy proves that something is true, against our traditional readings of verses, we are forced to allegorize the verses. He talks about two theories of the Eternity of the Universe:
- Aristotle: matter is indestructible
- Plato: matter is destructible.
- Teshuva of the Rashba: people may study science, and reinterpret verses if they don't work any more, as long as
- no violation of fundamentals of faith
- no change in halakha
A few gems:
- Science is DEscriptive, Torah is PREscriptive ... the medievals knew this.
- Some halakhists don't know the boundaries of halakha, some scientists don't know the boundaries of science ... that's where the problem starts.
- Science and Torah run on parallel tracks - they don't intersect, conflict.