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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 (634)
December 4, 2014
Truth?
When scientists of yesteryear are found in error. All scientists come to admit their bygone peers were wrong.
When an error is pointed out made by the Rabbis, doing so is looked upon as no greater sin can be committed, and "How can the Rabbis be wrong" is asked.
Where does truer truth lie, with the Rabbis or the scientists?

One thing that can be said about the scientists that no one can take away. After all research done, all truth is revealed. In comparison, the Rabbis can learn Torah for 1000s of years, but without science, certitude remains questionable.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
December 4, 2014
Re: Pinchus
I do not prove any scientific facts, scientists prove facts.

I never said "go argue with the scientists" I said "If you think you are a match for the Scientists, then take them on" Please do not twist my words to suit your arguments.

The Torah is not a science manual, the Rabbis are not scientists. It was only assumed Adam was the first man. Before any evidence to the contrary there was no reason to believe otherwise.

According to some Torah scholars, Noah's flood affected only the known world, not the entire globe. There is undisputed evidence that this was in fact the case.

There is evidence within the Torah itself that may lead one to believe it may have been written by more then one person at different times. I reserve my opinion until I know more on the issue.

Precisely how did the Rabbis apply these rules to derive from the Torah that Adam was the first man and age of the universe, etc.
If what you say is true, you could, without assumptions & hearsay outline the process.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
December 4, 2014
The FACTS of evolution!
The facts as taught by evolution:
1. The "BigBang brought matter into existence, from nothing.
2. Life evolved from non-living chemicals, yet all the knowledge & energy of science cannot do it by design, yet it happened by chance!
3. Anything can happen given enough time.
Evolution is a fact - but it cannot be seen today! When did it stop? All the "evidence" proves it happened. Give one proved transition of one kind of creature to another. Empirical proof.
the "scientific" Evolution you are defending is based on hypothesis that there is no G-d. Yet some want to put a G-d where the scientists DO NOT want one. The various theories of evolution are to explain creation without miracle & the work of a divine being.
Snow forms layers, more than annually. Find some one who has lots of permanent snow, put out a cloth & count the layers after a few snowfalls- I am not stupid, check me by counting layers.
Allow for G-d & his miracles.
Pinchas, there was a flood, how else could you get fossils?
Ern
Adelaide
November 25, 2014
You can't prove HEA is a "fact"
That is why you have fall back on rhetoric like saying "go argue with the scientists".
You want to ignore the rules (like those, stated in the Neusach Auri Siddur) about how to interpret Torah.
Korach said Moses was wrong and misinterpreting Torah as well.
It does not matter how much circumstantial "evidence" you have for human evolution from animals.
No one ever went back in time to see it happen.
Therefore you have not one shred of actual proof.
Scientists claim it's a fact that Noah ' s Flood never happened.
There is not that much water on the planet they say and no evidence of a world wide flood.
Yet you still, believe it but are not going out and "arguing with the scientists".
Scientists also say Torah was, written by several authors over thousands of years.
Not by Moses all at once 3000 years ago.
yet you seem to believe Moses wrote it (except perhaps the last part after he was nifter).
Pinchus
Brooklyn New York
November 20, 2014
Re: Pinchus
Majority rule only applies to Halachah, Not on matters of fact.

The problem is. Unknowingly, These Scientists are not in disagreement with the Torah, but rather with the misinterpretations of the Torah as presented by the fallibility of most Rabbis.

Rambam states, if the Torah and science are at odds, then one should reinterpreted the Torah to conform to the scientific "truth".

If the Rabbis would concern themselves with Toras Emes (as Rabbis were meant to do) rather then with their foolish pride & selfish ego and admit the Rabbis they follow were fallible in their knowledge of the natural world, off line with the overwhelming scientific evidence that reveals the truth. No scientist would be able to say or be at odds with the Torah ever again.

If you try disprove evolution solely because scientists claim that God has no hand in it, does it not also make sense on the same bases to try to disprove that apples are made by trees because these same scientists claim the same with apples.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
November 16, 2014
You said the rabbis are wrong the scientists are right.
So why should I believe there is a world to come?
You tell us to go argue with the scientists.
Well most scientists don't believe in the G-d of the Torah.
You say you do, and that I should too.
So I say to you, like you said to us.
Go argue with the scientists.

BTW, Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel ordered Rabbi Eliezer ( or was it Rabbi Elazar? ) to appear before him on the day he calculated was supposed to be Yom Kippur,
to prove and show that the Torah goes by the majority, not by few or lone dissenters.
Pinchus
Brooklyn New York
October 19, 2014
Evolution vs Natural Selection
The author's clarification (Sep 16 post) is important, but it sets up a straw man. Scientists have not defined evolution solely in terms of natural selection for 100 years. "Evolution" is actually a collection of theories. It would be more accurate to characterize evolution as a field of study rather than a standalone theory. The essay suggests that an entire field of study is in conflict with the Torah. It's like asking, does biology jibe with Judaism. Perhaps the title should be, "Does Natural Selection Jibe with Judaism?"
Bert
San Jose, CA
October 2, 2014
Re: Ern Wigzel
A good lawyer can convince a jury the guilty are innocent. Clever creationists (think they) can poke holes in the research of prominent scientists. With all the hole poking there's still evidence remaining.
But can the creationists prove the world was created in 6 24hr consecutive days & that Adam was the first man, out weighing the opposition. No one here is questioning what God is capable of, but rather what did God actually do.
Throughout the generations there were Sages on both sides of the fence, it was never 100% unanimous. Not wishful thinking, but the bare facts will prove who is right.
Are we not bind to seek truth where truth could be found? Is this not God's desire for us, to live in a world knowing [His] truth which He created.
As we sit here reading this blog Scientists are continually making new and more advanced discoveries in Evolution. While creationists are playing the same old tune.
If you think you are a match for the Scientists, then take them on, go for it.
Isaac
Brooklyn NY
October 1, 2014
Fossils Make A Monkey Out Of Evolution
Any argument based on missing fossils is an argument from personal incredulity, not a falsifying observation. New fossils are unearthed every day. We now have a complete lineage from the reptilian jaw bone to the mammalian ear. The gaps are shrinking. Punctuated Equilibrium is based on data that's over 40 years old.

You could, however, make a case against random chance; that's pretty straightforward. But as I pointed out earlier, "random chance" is not part of evolutionary theory.

Now, if you happen to find a rabbit fossil in the Precambrian, you'll have my full attention.
Bert
San Jose, CA
September 30, 2014
I'm with Pinchus
We take a G-d denying theory, believe theoretical dating, assume all snow layers were only annually laid down, find fossils do not prove evolution, they prove nothing but that the animal existed, & we call it empirical evidence, even when it cannot be proven nor can it be made to happen with all the technology of the men that believe in it, yet it is believed to happen by chance
Science says NO GOD, some add G-d.
There is no skeleton of hominids that cannot be found living today -we call them deformed.
Find the evidence & ask, if science is wrong, what is right, & follow that as well. Then compare the results.
With an allwise, allpowerful, eternal G-d an instantaneus 6 day creation is possible, & can fit all the evidence. Bees require flowers & flowers, bees. Evolution would have the flowers waiting to be pollenated for millions of years, same with all the naturally connected creatures.
I would rather be called stupid & follow wisdom than actually be stupid & follow fairy tales.
Ern Wigzell
Adelaide
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