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Evolution and Its Moral Consequences

Evolution and Its Moral Consequences

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Question:

My son and I were talking about the origins of humankind. He said that he was offended by the belief that man had descended from the ape family, and was adamant that we all came from Adam and Eve. I, on the other hand, believe Darwin's theory to be a more reasonable explanation of our evolution, and think it is ridiculous to continue teaching children the creation myth. Of course, this discussion can go round in circles forever. Are you able to shed some light on the topic?

Response:

An elderly rabbi was once on an airplane to Israel sitting next to a self-professed atheist. They were amicably chatting the whole trip.

Every now and then, the rabbi's grandchild, sitting in another row, would come over to him, bringing him a drink, or asking if he could get anything to make him more comfortable. After this happened several times, the atheist sighed, "I wish my grandchildren would treat me with such respect. They hardly even say hello to me. What's your secret?"

The rabbi replied: "Think about it. To my grandchildren, I am two generations closer to Adam and Eve, the two individuals made by the hand of G‑d. So they look up to me. But according to the philosophy which you teach your grandchildren, you are two generations closer to being an ape. So why should they look up to you?"

Beliefs have consequences. If children today lack respect and are unable to honor their elders, if tradition looked down upon and the values of the past all but forgotten, is it not a natural consequence of modern education? If we teach our children that they are merely advanced animals, then they will act that way. And they will treat their parents and teachers like the obsolete versions of humanity that they are.

We have to be aware of the effects of our beliefs. If we believe that humans came about by accident, then life has no meaning. There can be no meaning to something that happens by chance. A random explosion or mutation cannot give us purpose. My life, your life and all human history has no real significance whatsoever. Whether I live a good life or one full of evil makes no difference. It is all a big accident anyway.

We only have purpose if we were created on purpose. Our lives only have meaning if we were created by a meaningful being. If we teach our children that they were created on purpose with a purpose, then they will know that more is expected from them than from an animal. The Adam and Eve story needs to be taught, not just because it is true, but because it is the basis of morality.

Both creationism and Darwinism require faith. To accept that G‑d created man and woman requires faith. To accept that a single-celled organism spontaneously mutated billions of times to form the human being also requires faith. But only one of these beliefs demands that we live a moral life. That's the one I want my children to be taught.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (1034)
August 31, 2014
How long is a day in Genesis?
Joseph,

I am hesitant to engage you, since I typically find that your posts often miss the point and go off in weird directions, with the one constant, that the Torah, as written is unerring and perfect in every way and can't possibly be wrong.

So, my question to you is "how long is a 'day', as described by Genesis?"

Does anyone know, or are you just saying that it HAS to be more than 24 hours? Surely, the term in ancient Hebrew that is translated as "day" has a standard meaning? No?

Also, if you think it isn't 24 hours, you must have reasons? Can you state them in clear and unambiguous terms that a slow, child-like person like me can understand?
Travis Cottreau
Wellington, New Zealand
August 29, 2014
Re. SOME MIRACLES ARE HARD TO BELIEVE
wamai. My problem is if evolution is an "on-going" process, even if each transformation takes a million years, it should never cease and always remain as on-going. Namely, it should be manifest every second happening anew in various places all over the planet. The math says so. Because it began at point one second in one place, then another at point two second.
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney
August 29, 2014
Re. (although a 6 to 10 thousand year old earth would be)
Travis, can you explain how long is a day without hours? Especially one day that stands for the separation of water from land?

It appears unrealistic to see this as a 24-hour day, when the day itself is introduced here for the first time, and the Hebrew bible is a most intelligent work: it gave the world more judiciary laws than any other writings, so how can it be seen to make such a blatant child-like error.
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney
August 18, 2014
There's a host of scammy issues & corruption with evolution.
"Fossils and observed mutation with selection provide empirical data. A reasonable explanation is that the data results from an evolutionary process."

This is one of its biggest scams. They look for skeletal remains that can seem like a match. Here, of 1000's that do not match are not included in the report, thus anything can be made to look like a match. It is the reason Genesis is so intelligent in selecting terrain & habitat - it is the most blatant separation threshold between life forms that cannot be faked, thus far superior: none can fake that a zebra and an eagle are separate life forms by virtue of being land and air borne creatures.

Conclusion: beware when scientists select means that cannot be verified by the people; it is open to corruption and money grants. Beware when it can never be proven either way or it depends on eons of time.
No such thing as a half-zebra that changes in time. Such a process 'does not cease' - thus it must be seen anytime and every second. Why not?
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney
August 18, 2014
Why do people reject evolution?
Good questions Bert,

In his book, "only a theory", Ken Miller addresses why people reject it. Look at the many Christian protests, evolution represents immorality (as it does in this article) or the devil or some reason for God not to exist. At least that is how it is taken.

I agree with you on all your points. Creationism is not mutually exclusive with evolution (although a 6 to 10 thousand year old earth would be). Say there is a God and He does intervene in nature on a regular basis. What does it look like? It could very well look like what we see before us (I have theological reasons for doubting this, but that's not the point).

There is no argument that anyone can make against an invisible dieity creating the laws of physics and playing a part in that way. There isn't much to say about that position from a scientific point of view.
Travis Cottreau
Wellington, New Zealand
August 18, 2014
SOME MIRACLES ARE HARD TO BELIEVE
Some people find it hard to accept that a whole thinking and talking man ascended from a single celled organism,a sponge, flatworm,amphibian or ape. They also probably find it even harder to accept that the whole human being develops from a single celled zygote in the womb, which multiplies into a multi-celled organism called man in accordance with specific instructions scientifically revised over several billion years and stored in a nucleic acid molecule passed over from generation to generation by those detestable ancestors! It is basic lack of humility
wamai wanjohi
Kenya
August 18, 2014
Evolution is not exclusive from creation but depends on it.
Survival of fittest means certain elements in the atmosphere are embedded with certain antennae; these must align with the same antennae of life forms so they can be recognized. These are specifically designed implements with specific result impacts. Proof: take a life form on Mars and no survival of fittest will result.

Such designs do not negate creationism but fully endorse it. Otherwise we are saying a car becomes completed without car makers. Subsequently, we cannot say creation is w/o a Creator. This is no science and no cause & effect.

The correct way to examine this is try it on an absolutely finite universe. Just to test your theory. I am suspicious of those who don't apply a preamble of which universe they are discussing. There are two kinds, not one :)
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney
August 17, 2014
Why reject evolution
There are 2 points in the original article. 1) Belief in evolution requires faith, meaning there’s no empirical evidence. 2) Belief in evolution has moral consequences. There’s an implied 3rd point that evolution & creation are mutually exclusive. If (1) and (3) are wrong, as I claim they are, then (2) is no longer an issue.

Fossils and observed mutation with selection provide empirical data. A reasonable explanation is that the data results from an evolutionary process. I did not say no other explanation is possible; but evolution is the most reasonable explanation I know of.

The question I’m exploring is, why do people reject evolution? Did people just wake up one morning and decide to hate evolution? Why do so many people characterize evolution as a “random” process when science has never made that claim?
Bert
San Jose, CA
August 12, 2014
Creationism is a scientific premise.
It is one of only two possibilities of the universe emergence, and is aligned with 'cause & effect'. There is no alternatives to a universe maker based ion Genesis' absolutely finite factor. Please name an alternative?

Creationism & monotheism dislodged the head-bashing multi-deities belief and made ancient minds think - thus did science emerge. Creationism is the E=MC2 of ancient humanity. The Hebrew bible is the only scripture that never said the earth is flat and introduced the concept of a 'finite' universe. Evolution is only viable as a program with a programmer - else its even less than magic [no magician?] and not science.
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney.
August 12, 2014
Re.
It should be clear Torah says earth is not 6,000.
I stated earlier there are pointedly no 'hours' listed in Day One and the 2nd day: why not? It if the day and week is introduced in Genesis, thereby it would be a simple matter for this source to have broken down a day into small parts to tell us what a day's period consists of. It does not do so: why not - is it lack of knowledge of hours, but not day?
Thus not 24-hour days, or it can be seen that way to avoid the un-intelligent conclusion earth is 6,000. None given reasons why a day is 24 hours and not an epoch of time.
It is surprising to conclude the Torah is so grossly un-intelligent when it also gave us more judiciaries laws than any other. Even a most simple child would not conclude earth is 6,000.
Also, that these pre-life separations of water & land accounts for large time measures are disregarded, while such critical actions are not listed by Darwin, making Genesis superior. Torah is literal & historical as mount Nebo is.
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney
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