Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone

Evolution and Its Moral Consequences

Evolution and Its Moral Consequences

E-mail

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.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (1065)
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
November 16, 2014
Random vs. Indeterministic (ref. 2^26 possibilities)
"Travis, why should scientists assume something is random until proven otherwise? "

I don't know where I said that exactly? Inheritance and the passing on of chromosomes is, as far as we know, a random event. We don't speak in certainties, but in probabilities.

As I said before, what would be the mechanism though with and agent intervenes in the outcome of which chromosomes are passed on? Are the current, stochastic models inadequate? Do you wish to add something to them to make them more accurate? Does adding agency add one iota to the results and the predictability, or are you just adding complexity because of your own, personal incredulity?

The possibility of agency isn't closed off (as with most science), but really, what does it add? Why would we add it?

And "equally likely" just applies to this, one situation. Clearly, there are lots of situations where it doesn't. In that case, I would expect a different stochastic model to apply.
Travis Cottreau
Wellington, New Zealand
November 9, 2014
Random vs. Indeterministic (ref. 2^26 possibilities)
Travis, why should scientists assume something is random until proven otherwise? Why not assume the opposite—that something is non-random until proven otherwise? Non-random does not necessarily mean “intelligent,” but it does open up the possibility. Why do some scientists want to close off that possibility? Is it because of empirical evidence or personal incredulity?

(By the way, if you like all outcomes being equally likely, stay away from quantum physics.)
Bert
San Jose, CA
September 29, 2014
"What is supposed to inform us that the days are longer? Is it the language?"
Yes, obviously language, meaning grammar. There is nothing to read in the text accept its context. This says there is yet no stars existing in V3. There is time [a beginning], there is the earth [does not say if this refers to a planet or physicality]. The given context is all we have and this says "light was separated from darkness" & "water from land" - these are the only text which is contextual.

Thus the length of Day One and Second Day can only be measured by those texts respectively. One cannot add hours here or view from a post-world scenario. We know that those actions = billions of years. There is no other reading which appears logical here.

The next step is to check if it fits with post-world science. Yes it does. Both Genesis & Science agree such separations take billions of years. A bolder insight says Darwin is wrong by not mentioning these critical life anticipating actions as vital for emerging life, which could not occur without those actions.
JOSEPH SHELLIM
Sydney
September 21, 2014
Longer than 24 hour days...
Bert,

Oh, I'm not saying that "days" in Genesis AREN'T longer than 24 hours, however, Joseph is talking about it as if it's obvious. I don't see that it is. What is supposed to inform us that the days are longer? Is it the language? Something in the text? Something else? OR, is it just the external knowledge that science has given us, saying that the world is ancient?

If it's the latter, then I don't know why we would think that the authors of genesis believed the days to be anything but 24 hour days.

Theories of scholars are fine and good, but I'd like to know why the belief exists. What is the reasoning? What is the evidence?
Travis Cottreau
Wellington, New Zealand
September 21, 2014
2^26 possibilities...
Bert,

That's a great question. I don't actually know. That is the running theory, since we don't know of a mechanism by which is WOULDN'T be equally likely. If it is somehow not that way, then we'd need evidence to show that it is not.
Travis Cottreau
Wellington, New Zealand
Show all comments
Load next 50
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG