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Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?

Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?



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


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 (668)
March 21, 2017
Thank you
I am learning about evolution in biology now (9th grade MTA), and I was wondering how this fit in. Your article was very helpful.
Eli Fisher
Washington Heights
June 27, 2015
And who decides which is right?
When rabbinic and scientific experts disagree on what "the reality" is?
New York
June 25, 2015
Look not behind but what's in our future!
That's right! We must rely on scientific "experts" .AND on rabbinic experts. Together, we will assure a better understanding of what is expected from us to achieve a better future for next generations to come.
Boca Raton FL
June 22, 2015
Micro evolution is not macro evolution.
Being able to eat Nylon or metabolize a given substance that a bacteria did not (not even necessarily "could" not. It just didn't for whatever reason) previously metabolize, is just adaptation.
It's not a species changing into a completely new species which is now genetically incompatible with the one it came from.

No one has ever seen any creature evolve into human beings.
I know, they say the time scale is far too long for any individual to observe.
Still the fact is no one ever saw it happen.
so any claims that it is supposedly "a proven fact" have to obviously be false.

As for isotopes in R dating, who gets to define what a 'significant' deviation, is?
Also who knows what unknown factors in the past might have made those isotopes change at a much different rate then today.

I personally can't do all those experiments, so must rely on scientific "experts".
Yet we are told not to rely on rabbinic experts.
Ah good old double standards...
New York
June 22, 2015
Thank you Steve
I wondered how substances changed. After a huge amount of generations we had a new species, no longer E Coli. I think not. Changing diet does not give a new family of animal!
Even in the war some Jews ate pork - proof of evolution????
Ern Wigzell
June 18, 2015
evolution today
I read a study. Scientists took a strain of E Coli that does not metabolize substance A (I don't recall the exact name). They increased the quantity of substance A, while decreasing the other nutrients. They carried this through 30,000 generations. Now that is a lot, think of 30,000 generations of humans! The researchers found that at the end of the study, the E Coli were able to metabolize substance A. As the other nutrients decreased, mutations that were able to metabolize substance A were able to proliferate and become the dominant organisms. This is a direct demonstration of evolution, the process of evolution. Scientists can show this process happening in our own environment, in the past and today. Evolution is a process that happens all around us. This brings up the question: If there are 2 ways to explain something, how do we choose which explanation works for us? Usually, we look for data, for evidence, and ask. Does it work for all of humanity, or just for a few holy people?
Steve E Abraham
New York
June 17, 2015
Faith and Science
Naturalistic explanations are in many cases, fully compatible with theism and, indeed, Judaism or Christianity.

In the Biblical account of creation, did G-d inspire Moses to describe the creation of the stars and galaxies as condensing spheres of hot hydrogen plasma? No, He placed the stars in the sky. Yet we don’t have a problem with that explanation, do we? Indeed, life is more complex than the elements, stars and planets, but complexity is not a reason to exclude natural mechanisms from the explanation of how G-d did it (see the article "Is Evolution Statistically Impossible?" on the site, truecreation_dot_info).

A better, G-d fearing scientific answer is, "G-d did it! We've seen that created the elements, stars, planets, and other incredible complexity in this universe using natural mechanisms. If He created species in the same way, let's learn how, and let's do it with integrity."
April 22, 2015
Ern's Other Questions
“Let science admit they do not know about the divine.” I agree.

“How did non-organized matter become organized?” In the book, “Just Six Numbers” by Martin Rees, six laws of physics are explained. They don’t simply allow matter to be organized, they compel it. The organization of matter is embedded in the design of the universe.

“How did non-living atoms become living things?” What is “life”? Who’s to say that atoms are not alive in ways we don’t understand? If G-d is everywhere, then G-d can be found in atoms.

“Can mutations produce a different family of creatures?” It is not certain that mutations are the sole cause of evolution.

Scientists believe the rates of radioactive decay are constant, because they have no reason to assume otherwise. Isotopes used in R-Dating have been tested under a variety of conditions, and no significant deviation has ever been observed (Dalrymple 2004).
San Jose, CA
March 18, 2015
Ern’s Questions
Although these were originally addressed to Isaac, I will respond to them.

I believe G-d created the universe. From nothing? Nothing existed before the universe? G-d existed. G-d is everywhere. The universe is the manifestation of G-d’s thought. I would not say “from nothing.” I would say “from G-d.”

Scientists say that evolution is a continuing process and that all species are transitional.

An example of observable evolution is the bacteria that eat nylon, which never existed in nature; nylon is a human invention. We started with a culture that had no ability to consume nylon. (Miller, “Only a Theory.”) But if science relied only on direct observation, we’d have to set free many accused criminals.

Scientists believe that life, and hence, evolution, began about 3.5 billion years ago from the same molecules that make up non-living objects.
San Jose, CA
March 8, 2015
"If it is the truth, it can be proven, if it cannot be proven, it cannot be the truth."

You have kept telling us you believe in G-d, but your line here above, excludes any possibility of belief in G-d.

"Scientists have the proof. It may not be as conclusive as all may wish it to be,"

Then it's not proof.
And there has been plenty of doubt against their claims as well, just like you said about doubts mentioned about the Flood in the Gemmara.

"but it surely beats by leaps and bounds of primitive and ancient societies' of past generations' assumptions and mere opinions,"

So since it's not actual proof now here comes the personal insults and ridicule designed to try and embarrass those on the other side into silence.

"of which many, to everyone's knowledge, have been disproved."

That is not true at all.

"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. "

The anti Torah side does that.
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