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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.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Discussion (1070)
April 14, 2015
WISE MAN
Yes Bert! Humans are animals . But with a more advanced brain. Homo-sapiens( wise man ), means that an unwise or unthinking ,impulsive man is an animal like any other.
wamae
Nairobi
April 13, 2015
Animals are just as intelligent as humans.
Just imagine a human living under the same conditions, like securing daily bread for the kids, no thumbs to cut veg or finding a safe place to live without being gobbled up. Animals must use their brains every turn, more so than humans. That's a good idea for a realty show - not?
Joseph Shellim
MELBOURNE
April 13, 2015
Agent...
Bert,

This is late in the mix, since the post I'm responding to is a few months back... :)

"Travis, I’m not adding an agent. You’re putting words in my mouth. I said the agent is unknown. " - still, your starting point suggests agency. Agency isn't the same as "causation", which is the thunder and lightning example you supply.

You can use the term "agency" for non intentional and non intelligent, causation, but it's bound to cause confusion, i.e. if there's agency, there's an agent etc...

"Random chance" is always just a filler for an unknown cause or series of causations which are not well understood. It's not magic. We don't know why chromosomes split the way they do, but, if you look at the probabilities, you get about half of them from your mother and half from your father. There are probably examples where you get more than half sometimes
Travis Cottreau
Wellington
April 13, 2015
The only way Young Earth Creationism can be made to work is if we assume God is inherently deceitful--creating (fake) fossils of creatures that never existed (e.g.
dinosaurs), false events in space that never happened (e.g. exploding stars in
other galaxies) and fake radioisotope dates in rocks. I would rather place my faith
in physical evidence than in warmed over Middle Eastern mythology. Incidentally,evolution does not rule out the existence of a Higher Power in the Universe. It may be that this Higher Power simply works through Natural Law
including the mechanism of evolution by natural selection rather than the
suspension of natural laws and their replacement by some sort of magic.
Daniel Rosenthal
Santa Monica
April 12, 2015
Merely Advanced Animals
This depiction of evolution suggests that animals are hideous abominations, and moral beings must not have anything in common with them. But the Torah teaches that animals are also G-d’s creations. Furthermore, there are documented cases of dolphins and sea lions rescuing people from drowning. Dogs provide protection and aid the blind. Elephants and chimpanzees live in cooperative societies.

According to Isaiah 66:23, “all flesh shall come to worship Me.” It doesn’t say “all humans.”

I, for one, am proud to share traits with G-d's other creations.
Bert
San Jose, CA
January 1, 2015
Math test for Evolutionists.
The theory supports the premise it is an on-going process. The math says an on-going process that never ceases has no requirement to wait eons of time to see its evidences. An on-going process continues every second successively. Thus if an action occurred a Million years ago, the same action will occur one million and one second thereafter. We should see specie graduations every second. The slow change factor also does not apply, for the same reasoning. An on-going process is akin to a stream of water flowing forever. Do the maths.
IamJoseph
January 1, 2015
Travis: Unknown agency vs. random chance
Travis, I’m not adding an agent. You’re putting words in my mouth. I said the agent is unknown. Lightning acts as an agent, because it causes thunder. But you wouldn’t know that if you assumed thunder was a purely random event. That’s why I object. Assuming random chance limits you from discovering any previously unknown agent.
Bert
San Jose, CA
December 31, 2014
What two things negate science the most?
1. Infinity. Everything always subisted, with or without science.
2. Random. It does not require scientific laws to subsist.

These two premises are also the only two pillars dependant upon as scientific evidences in the Theory of Evolution.

Consider what applies if both are negated, a reasonable proposition since the trace imprints of an expanding universe better favors a finite universe than not so, and that random is a structural component that has to be intentionally provided by specific attributes that assure limited subsistance. Such consideration culminates in a universe and random factor that once never existed - anathema for ToE by virtue of its unavoidable conclusions. Just saying.
IamJoseph
December 18, 2014
Thunder, lightning and agency...
Bert,

Does randomness exist? Or, is it all caused by an agent (or agents)?

Why do you object to "random chance" and why does adding an agent into the mix improve anything?

I agree that pointing out that something is unknown is not personal incredulity, in fact, I think it's an excellent starting point for true knowledge. At the same time though, you want to add something into the mix, an agent, but don't really have a reason to except that you want to. You have no evidence for doing it.

It could easily be the case that you're right and it's not random at all. I concede that point. However, what is it? Thunder and lightning are not agent-driven at all, so even using your analogy, we don't end up with an agent. No one one is saying these things aren't causal, just that all the vast number of outcomes are equally likely, or at least, assuming that they are yields expected results.

Adding an agent (i.e. a thinking, intending agent) would require some real evidence that you don't have
Travis Cottreau
Wellington, New Zealand
December 17, 2014
Thunder Without Lightning
Travis, pointing out that something is unknown is not personal incredulity. True, natural selection is a well-understood agent. But selection requires variation. Variation comes from genetic mutation. Mutation, however, is an event, not an agent. Like thunder without lightning, the agent is unknown. I object to the insertion of “random chance” as a placeholder for an unknown agent. Suppose you hear thunder but cannot see what is going on outside. You may gather data showing that the sound of thunder occurs an average of 1% of the time at a given location. The stochastic model would then suggest that, at a given point in time, there is a 1% change of hearing thunder, even if there is no rain and not a cloud in the sky.
Bert
San Jose, CA
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