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Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?

Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?

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Question:

I always get conflicting answers regarding the theory of evolution and Judaism. Could you clarify?

Response:

If you are getting conflicting answers, that’s most likely because you are asking Jews. Like they say, for every two Jews there are three opinions. That’s just part of Jewishness.

But now you’re asking me, so I’ll provide my opinion. And that is that evolution and Torah are two distinct paradigms. Evolution is an attempt to explain life in purely materialistic terms. Things happen out of chance and necessity. Torah, on the other hand, tells us that a singular, deliberate and intelligent force is to be found in all things and all events.

Or, put it this way: Evolution and Genesis both agree that human intelligence began as a hunk of mud. Evolution says that if you leave enough mud alone for long enough, it will eventually—through chance events and natural selection—become a human being who will build computers and spaceships. Genesis says that intelligence arises from a greater intelligence.

Or to simplify it even further: Evolution says the background of the universe is dumb matter, and intelligence is an accident. Genesis places intelligence at the core of the universe, and says that dumb matter is an illusion.

One step simpler: Evolution says that a dumb universe can create intelligent beings. Genesis says that an intelligent universe may sometimes look dumb, until you look deeper.

Mixing these two together is then an exttreme form of syncretism.

While I'm at it, please allow me to point out that "natural" and "selection" are mutually incompatible terms. Natural implies blind necessity dictated by the consistent patterns of nature. Selection implies intelligence. I won't be the first to point out that this term is an oxymoron. What I propose, however, is that the choice of such a term indicates that scientists subliminally recognize that there must be an intelligence at work here. Which is my point: It's much more intuitive to believe that the primal substance of the universe is not matter, but intelligence.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to believe that creationism is science. How it was, precisely, that a super-cosmic intelligence extruded all these beings from the primordial mud is something still beyond our science. Perhaps one day we will have theories that can explain some of this to us in terms we can grasp. Or perhaps not. At present, however, materialistic evolution is sorely deficient at explaining anything at all.

In fairness to your question, I should add that there have been those who have attempted to align Judaism and evolution, some of them quite respectable Torah scholars. None of them, however, have managed to make a plausible reading out of Genesis with their theories. Their error stems from the belief that evolution has been somehow scientifically proven. This is simply not the case. While Darwin’s theories and their modern counterparts may have proven a useful paradigm for certain studies, they cannot at all stand the rigor through which a theory must be put in the academic world in order to be accepted as “proven.” Their sole claim to acceptance is the human mind’s endemic fear of saying, “We don’t understand.”

There’s lots written on our site on this topic. Here is one useful article, written by an environmental scientist.

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Discussion (595)
August 19, 2014
Re: Jewish View
The essay is flawed from the very start and consequently shows his lack of understanding of the subject. He claims evolutionary theory states that in the beginning there was a nearly perfect self-replicator to sustain life. This could not be further from the truth. Evolutionary theory does NOT claim this at all. As fact, science does not yet know how self-replicating molecules evolved. Research is still in process for this. Science does not claim to know how life began! Why? Because to date there's no hard evidence that can stand up to the rigor of scientific proof. Evolutionary theory, as a scientist sees it, makes no claims about how life began. We just don't yet know. To claim that you know, without hard proof, is simply self-delusion and will render you a non-scientist very quickly.
Dovid
California
August 19, 2014
Does evolution jibe with creation???
Man by science & knowledge of Evolution in a lab could not create life - yet evolution did it by chance.
Evolution or Creation: the jews, The Hope, The land,
G-d promised LIFE & Hope, & a NEW CREATION not by evolution slowly but by His grace & a rapid change for forever not by natural evolving.
Ern Wigzell
Adelaide
August 19, 2014
True science by a creationist & proud of it!
The Laws of Conservation of matter & Energy as well as Entropy demand a greater source of energy & matter not evolution which would have exhausted itself after the infinite of no creation.
Biology can produce new speci by selective breeding but NOT new kind. Mutation of gene material produce weakness & the inbreeding of the mutation causes extinction, not survival. Man can trace DNA because it is unchanging-yet in the next breath say that there are mutations - cannot have it 2 ways.
Layers of glaciers are formed by compaction not seasons, if the glacier was to melt in summer there would be NO glacier. The sun, pressure of ice above seasonal layering, precipitation of ice,snow&water, so how do you make them annual - do you believe in uniformity.
How come rocks have different ages, was not the earth made once? Sedimentary layers are not by uniformity, how could they be on mountains & high plateaus. When did water cover the Hymalayas? Water washing out C14 makes aging not younger!!
Ern Wigzell
Adelaide.
August 19, 2014
Re: Sientje Commerford
This is a quote from the Ramban, Google him and you will discover who he was.
Firstly with all due respect to non-Jewish faith people, your version of Genesis is not translated verbatim from the original Bible. Not even all Jewish translated editions are verbatim. It helps to know the Hebrew.
The Bible was written 3326 years ago. It was written in the language of man. Man 3326 years ago in comparison was on the primitive side.
The Bible does not cover all of creation e.g. where does it mention God created water the biggest substance on earth.
The Bible is not in chronological order, there are some obvious examples, but we can't be sure of the not so obvious.
All this to be considered in it's understanding.
Day is referred to as era back then as well as in our times "6 24hr consecutive days" is not stated. It agrees with you about Day.
Sciences and hindsight is not only consistent with some traditional Rabbinical teachings but also actually enhance our understanding of the Bible.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
August 19, 2014
jewish view
this article goes through all the evolutionist's evidence in detail dafyomireview.com/chovos/jewish_views_on_evolution..htm
Anonymous
jerusalem
August 18, 2014
re Isaac man was created animal first.
According to Issac, statement man was created animal first, isnt that exactly against what is written in the Book of Genesis, where God made man out of dust and breathed into his nostrils to give him life." and did not man become animalistic in nature when they disobeyed and ate of the Tree of good and evil." as death and since came into the world with their disobedience. the traits of jealousy, murder, envy strife became known to them and they lost communication with the Lord G-d as G-d and wickedness cannot walk together. Also it is written that " A day with the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day" so it could be possible that one day was longer than 24 hours?
Sientje Commerford
Chilliwack
August 17, 2014
Not all scientists think the same way
Science does not look for the divine. That doesn’t mean science rules out the divine. True science is based on observations that are testable. G-d is not testable.

There is a form of junk science that claims G-d is either improbable or non-existent. It’s not backed up by any empirical data. It’s based on what they consider “rational thinking.”

Not all scientists think this way.
Bert
San Jose, CA
August 17, 2014
Re: Ern Wigzell, continued from previous comment
And If you consider that the entire globe was encompassed by Noah's flood as opposed to just the known world at the time, then it would leave just about 4,000 years since the flood for the annual layers in glaciers to accumulate. Meaning that the number of winters & summers would have to be even at a higher rate as in my previous example. As high as 1 or 2 cycles per day.

You state "Carbon dating can be aged by water, it is water soluble."
Water soluble means 'capable of dissolving in water' which is to say that carbon can be dissolved i.e. washed away by water, making it appear less aged. Only by adding carbon would make it appear older when Carbon dating.

"Light, the full beam created on Day 1."
I know that some Rabbis say that God created everything matured at first. But when have we ever seen God create in this way or in an instant? Even the Torah is believed to have been written 2000 years before creation. God created nature, this would go against nature & deemed unnatural.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
August 15, 2014
Re: Ern Wigzell
You have stated "Annual layers of glaciers have been proven wrong by recent findings - layers are formed quickly, not only annually."

As a Physics teacher I am sure you can explain how, if the world is only 5774 years old & according to the layers in glaciers found indicating 740,000 years, would mean that there would have to have been on the average 128 cold spells (winters) with 128 alternate hot spells (summers) & 128 alternate snow falls per year for these layers to have formed.
When has there ever been 2 winters with 2 summers in 1 year, let alone 128?

Furthermore being that we know that there was only 1 winter & 1 summer per year for many years, this number of winters and summers per year would have to be much higher.
E.g. If within the last 2887 years there was only 1 winter and 1 summer per year, as we can't prove otherwise, this would mean there was on the average 256 winters and summers per 365 day year within the 2887 preceding years. Can this be proven or explained?
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
August 14, 2014
Catholics are free to believe that the Earth is 6000 years old or that it is 4.5 Billion years old as not to alienate masses of the church.
On the most part the Catholic biblical scholars i.e. the priesthood of the Catholic church have concluded from the Bible that the earth is roughly 6000 years old.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
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