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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 (547)
January 28, 2014
time and evolution
But, is there evolution if there is no time? How will evolutionary biology meet new physical paradigms about time, space and so on? Will new conceptual changes deny evolution? Or on the contrary, will it become a more extraordinary process, full of astonishing implications? If so, will past human beings and the rest of living beings become something different as science progresses? After all, is life something fix-finite-defined? That is, can one understand it by means of using a flesh brain and its limited words? Does the whole of life fit inside a bone box? Indeed, will science add indefinitely without understanding completely, is there an infinite pool of ignorance waiting for us? Otherwise, will religions use the word God forever and ever, as if it were a death thing, a repetitive thing? Along these lines there is a different book, a preview in goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion in order to freethink for a while
Anonymous
palmabeach
October 30, 2013
Creation
Both and Rabbis and Physicists seem to agree that matter originated from a "singularity"
To the Rabbi the "Singulality" is G-d - look no further. The Rabbis philosophical explanations I find impossible to follow.
But Physicists continually struggle to find a rational explanation for a "pre-singularity" condition as.we cannot contemplate a void and experience leads us to reject the idea of something from nothing .

For me the question I ask the Rabbis is -
For what purpose did G-d create life on earth ? and if It is to reach the Messianic Age and we and live happily ever after - what then for the Creator ?

Maybe I prefer one unanswerable question to two .
AubreyJ
Hendon London
October 25, 2013
Two Different Paradigmas
Since July 19th 2010 until now there have been 543 commentaries. All this speaks out to me that the saying is true -each head is a world in itself. My point is that the Torah provides me with guidance to live, but that guidance is something intimate, something that sustains me against the other's assaults in the battle of life. On the other hand, evolution is something... perhaps plausible but while I'm standing on the sidewalk I'm not authorized to speak about the Torah and if I dare to do so, a spirit will make me known who really I am. On the same sidewalk if I speak about evolution, passersby -my fellows- probably would think I am a political activist and like many other political statements, evolution is in, is true, is fair, everybody knows it and nobody doubts it and after all, who cares it.
Anonymous
Qr
October 24, 2013
The Fossil Record Does Not Contradict Evolution
The fossil record does not contradict evolution. Moreover, there are no facts today that contradict evolution. Just within the past 10 years, we’ve unearthed fossil evidence that has strengthened the theory of evolution considerably.

Misinformation about the fossil record has been floating around for years, and unfortunately, it has wormed its way into Chabad literature. It’s primarily related to the work of Drs. S. Gould and N. Eldridge, who studied the rarity of transitional fossils. Their findings have been distorted beyond recognition by opponents of evolution. I don’t have room to delve into the technical details. But I will say this: no competent paleontologist would ever conclude that missing fossils never existed, nor would they ever conclude that non-discovery of more primitive forms of a species must mean that species appeared suddenly. And anyone who drew those conclusions 10 years ago would today be looking quite foolish.
Bert
San Jose, CA
October 24, 2013
Who preceded who? (2nd)
Is it what the debate is all about? No doubt about it, it had to be Creation from which derived Evolution as G-d intended to be or as some would describe it as an unfinished and endless story. So to finish this story, Evolution/Science must continue to progress beyond Creation. Although, Torah has been our guide for thousand years, I don’t think it encompasses all cures for humans and knowledge that men have to discover on their own for their benefits. I don’t believe either that G-d would be laughing at His own image. On the contrary, He would be sympathetic to their suffering and proud of their accomplishments and even, sometimes, guide them towards victory. When he created the world, his work was done. He left it to us to make it a place to live and enjoy. I am sure the Torah has been misinterpreted many times and so has science been wrong many times, but in all, we are progressing in science and in understanding the Torah. Nothing wrong about making errors from which we can learn better ways.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
October 24, 2013
I never said science was speculation
I said speculation that is passed off as supposedly being science was mere speculation.
And when someone claims Torah scholars say there is an iron dome over the Earth yes proof that such a thing was actually said by them is required and any real Torah scholar knows that.

The Gemarra is not properly called Torah and the Torah (not necessarily the Gemarra) is what is literal (usually as I said before some things like an eye for an eye have always been known to mean payment for the loss of of and not actually putting out someone else's eye) and I never said 'everything was literal'.

No one can refute what I said so they have to pretend I said things I never actually said..
Torah is Literal
USA
October 21, 2013
Who preceded who?
Is it what the debate is all about? No doubt about it, it had to be Creation from which derived Evolution as G-d intended to be or as some would describe it as an unfinished and endless story. So to finish this story, Evolution/Science must continue to progress beyond Creation. Although, Torah has been our guide for thousand years, I don’t think it encompasses all cures for humans and knowledge that men have to discover on their own for their benefits. I don’t believe either that G-d would be laughing at His own image. On the contrary, He would be sympathetic to their suffering and proud of their accomplishments and even, sometimes, guide them towards victory. When he created the world, his work was done. He left it to us to make it a place to live and enjoy. I am sure the Torah has been misinterpreted many times and so has science been wrong many times, but in all, we are progressing in science and in understanding the Torah. Nothing wrong making errors from which we can learn.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
October 21, 2013
Bert's remarks
Bert concludes :Science does not depend on facts alone. It probably utilizes theories more than facts.

The Scientific Method Starts with OBSERVABLE Facts and tries to make some sense out of it with a theory that matches the facts whether or not it is proved. All the facts STILL remain. If your theory does NOT match the facts you must according to science either throw out the theory or modify it. In this way a chair remains a chair no matter who made it or how it came about. Any theory to remain true has to account for ALL the facts. If later they find a new fact the theory has to be MODIFIED. The same point was made by Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch - German Rabbi of the 19th century who preserved Orthodoxy in Germany. What the Reform and the Haskalah movement did not do is look at ALL the facts.
David Aharon Lindzon-Lindsay
Toronto Ontario
October 21, 2013
Intellegent Design
There IS no "Intellegent Design Theory"--every advocate of Intellegent Desigh has a different idea of what it means. To some, Young Earth Creationism; to some Old Earth Creationism; to others, guided or directed evolution. How is it
possible to teach something when its advocates can not agree what they are
talking about?
Daniel Rosenthal
California
October 20, 2013
Feigele re the earth was covered with a steel dome and was flat.
dear Feigele: Then now did Job know that "He hung the earth upon nothing?" see if Job had believed in evolution instead of the Lord G-d Almighty who brought the Israelites out with a Might Hand while being slaves in Egypt. shows also the Lord G-d is against other nations enslaving or oppressing His people. shalom
Sientje Seinen
Canada
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