Everyone’s a blasphemer these days, including Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, an ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and Talmudic zoologist who has written nine books attempting to reconcile Jewish Scripture with natural science. Slifkin, The New York Times reports, isn’t trying to debunk much, but has expressed some calm skepticism about certain stories in the Torah, the Talmud, and other sacred texts, such as the existence of unicorns and phoenixes; the claim that geese grow on trees; and the reasoning behind the Talmudic doctrine for killing lice on the Sabbath. But it was Slifkin’s arguments for parallels between Big Bang theory and religious explanations for the creation of the universe that led to an open-letter denunciation of his books signed by 23 ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who called for his writings to be banned or burned; a move that resulted in Slifkin’s publisher and distributor dropping three of the titles mentioned in the letter and, of course, a simultaneous surge of interest in his writing, with some copies of his books selling for five times their original price.