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

Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?

Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?

E-mail

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.

© 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 (655)
January 13, 2015
The truth of Evolution!
5) Would it make any difference to you if the scientists would admit there is a God?
Baal, Ashtaroth?
Let science admit they do not know about the divine.
Isaac,
1. How did non-organised matter become organised without detroying the laws of physics?
2. How did non-living atoms become living beings?
3. Is 2 above, repeatable? Is it possible?
4. Can 2 be demonstrated in a lab, with intelligent people directing it, & external energy being added?
5. Can mutations produce a different family of creature? Give one proveable occurence.
6. Are there transitional creatures today? If not, why?
7.Give a timing method where the original status (radiation levels, etc) is known, the process can be proven to not deviate, & is not influenced by water. (Why water? because fossils require high pressure water, & sedimentary layers means "laid down by water!)
I like the name Isaac: was the first known Isaac, a father of the Jews or a descendant of an Iraqi? What is the difference - G-d! Why that family?
Ern
Adelaide
January 13, 2015
Isaac, is Evolution true & provable?
Look at the title of this blog - is Judaism true? Is its truth provable? Or do we who proclaim the Bible as True, have a blind faith?
1) Do you, or do you not believe God created the universe ‘Ex Nihilo’? ANSWERED!
2) When did the scientists declare, evolution had stopped?
They say it is a continuing process, but where are the transitional creatures today? Where are the monkey/apes still evolving into men? They are not to be found. Because a new creature is found, that does not mean it recently evolved, just that it was not found before.
3) When did the scientists believe evolution was observable? I do not know. Surely one could observe the transitional creatures they talk about if one existed then. CAN YOU ANSWER THIS?
4) How long did the scientists claim it took for the duration of evolution? It is still happening. When did it start? There must have been a starting point, but that it never discussed. The laws of science clearly state that nothing comes from nothing.
Ern
Adelaide
January 6, 2015
Genesis AND evolution
For me, the biblical account of creation is myth. Before anyone gets their hackels up, let me explain that myth is truth without necessarily being historical. Myth is a way of portraying the truth of creation. So I can accept the creation story (stories, really) as entirely true, and also evolutionary theory as an attempt to explain life evidences, both contemporary and in the fossil record, together with radioisotope dating, stratigraphy, and other geological methods of investigation.
Don
California
January 4, 2015
Half a Car Stuck in the Sand
If I saw half a car stuck in the sand, I would think it had a maker. If someone told me that it came into being, piece by piece on something called an "assembly line," I would think that made sense. But if someone then told me that the "Theory of the Assembly Line" ruled out the existence of a maker, I would think that absurd.
Bert
San Jose, CA
January 4, 2015
My last comment on this blog for lack of Worthy Opponents
As a mitzvah leads to another mitzvah and a sin to more sin, so too is for falsehood and truth.
The pursuit of truth is of the utmost importance, for without it, what is there other than stagnation at best and declining of the intellect at worst.
If it is the truth, it can be proven, if it cannot be proven, it cannot be the truth.

Scientists have the proof. It may not be as conclusive as all may wish it to be, but it surely beats by leaps and bounds of primitive and ancient societies' of past generations' assumptions and mere opinions, of which many, to everyone's knowledge, have been disproved.
Debating with those whose only goal is to win at all costs even that of truth and honesty would be incapable of producing any useful result.
This blog's intended purpose. For the benefit of all. Is for deriving of truth, not of frivolity.
I must therefore move on to more worthy and stimulating adversaries which I hope to find on other blogs.
May all blessings be bestowed upon all. Amen.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
January 4, 2015
Pinchus, answers for you in the order of your inquiry
Questions posted were not meant for you

Rules you refer to does not derive from Torah, age of universe, Adam was first man.
Is why you were not taught

All familiar with Rambam's teachings are aware of his views, do all agree? You would have to ask them

Rabbis claim God alters the laws of nature, scientists have proven He does not

Rabbis claim Torah states God created the world within 6 24hr consecutive days, Adam was first man, miracles occurred outside of nature etc.

'not in line', with. Reality = the state of world & things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them

Why would they? Because they are truth seekers. Which will bring them closer to their creator & everyone else for that matter

"If our perception of G-d has to change to suit others, then we have nothing eternal, to hold onto.
It becomes meaningless, and we are then just paying lip service."

Well said. Are you pleasing & giving lip service to God's Toras Emes or to Rabbis?
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
January 3, 2015
For Isaac
1) Do you, or do you not believe God created the universe ‘Ex Nihilo’? No - He made by converting His energy into Matter & natural energy, like light & wind.
2) When did the scientists declare, evolution had stopped? Ask them to show evidence of it happening. I have & they cannot. Where are the transision creatures between families, still evolving. Why has every transistion species died out? You answer the question - where is your evidence of evolution today?
3) When did the scientists believe evolution was observable? Observable by whom. The only one who could observe, if it happened, they do not believe in, & His claims are different.
4) How long did the scientists claim it took for the duration of evolution? Has it stopped?
5) Would it make any difference to you if the scientists would admit there is a God? RePhrase, admit there was a creator. YES! There would be no need for fabrication & lies. Look at the history of evolution.
Now you answer the same questions, please Isaac
Ern
Adelaide
January 3, 2015
Layers of Snow!
If the snow melts in summer, you do not get one layer per year, you have no layers, just one that dissappears each summer.
So in the permanent snow areas, not Adelaide, what causes a layer, it is not the total of one year. It depends on the density & amount each & every snow fall. So by counting layers & working out years, you would have to know the weather conditions of each & every snow storm.
As I said, ask a friend to put a large tarp out in the snow, then after a few storms, count the layers, then work out the number of layers per year, well, that year!
As I have said, what is the base line for accuracy. A very wise book once said, "the fool has said that there is no God". If that is the starting point, then the processes MUST not allow for a God. Time is the creating spirit, what cannot be done in a day, sounds plausable if you give it a million years. But you read these books & believe it, without checking if it is possible. The millions of years are for them, NOT for God!
Ern
Adelaide
January 2, 2015
Isaac -Clarifying!
Those who believe in a maker are ridiculed for not believing the scientists guesses. Oh they are not guesses, they are theories, hypothesis, & they test them, but science cannot replicate the beginning, but it will get there. Scientists do not believe in the Biblical week as they have methods of timing the process of evolution they invented. These “Guesses” are right because they have followed the “natural scientific method” This does not accept a maker-G-d, or miracles.
It will accept something from nothing & call it a Big Bang. But that defies the laws of Physics (Entropy & thermdynamics) but that is OK!!

Do I believe God made the worlds & all life from nothing?
No, He made it from His Spirit or “Power”. Nothing comes from nothing.
Matter or Energy cannot be made from nothing nor go back to nothing, only changed from one form to another.
When did the scientists declare evolution has stopped?
They do not. None can show it in action.
Where is LIFE still spontaneously self starting?
Ern
Adelaide
January 2, 2015
Dear Isaac,
Isaac, I am with you. If the car needs attention then off to the mechanic. But if the mechanic says, I am not sure how we got cars, I think they evolved. I went down the beach & saw half a car stuck in the sand, I am not sure if it is making itself or resting, but I definitely do not believe they were made, as I have never met a maker, & if I did I would not believe as I do not believe anyone can be that clever. But you would stick with him if he had a Certificate signed by one of his mates on the wall. Physics, chemistry, mechanical, Electrical & similar sciences operate differently to those inolved in fosill hunting, geological aging, &c. I heard recently on the radio a physicist asked to explain evolution, the announcer thought all sciences were equal, he clearly said that his branch of science does not support evolution.
So here we are on earth. Those who claim science do not believe in a maker as they do not accept that which is “divine” or miraculous.
Ern Wigzell
Adelaide
Show all comments
Load next 50
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG