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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 (629)
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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
September 29, 2014
Re: Pinchus
Perhaps you are referring to, "Rabbi Yishmael says: through 13th methods the Torah is expounded:" which we recite in the morning services.
Not every halacha the Rabbis decreed are from Scripture, e.g. reciting a blessing over food before eating. The example you cite is of a rational moral, and teaching that, 'if it is not stated in the Torah, does not mean it is moral.' But who really knows for sure what the Torah is saying by not directly stating all these Halachas. All we know for sure is that, the Rabbis felt them necessary for their generation.

I knew someone who ended it for himself, the Rabbis said wherever he goes, he will have to start all over again, for there is no escaping what one must fix for themself and for the world in their current lifetime. You might as well do all you are meant to do now in this lifetime, in order to prepare yourself for a better life here in this life and in your world to come.
Brooklyn NY
September 21, 2014
"Fossils Make A Monkey Out Of Evolution"
Trying to reconcile evolution with the Torah is an exercise in futility. Because evolution cannot be reconciled even with the fossil record. As a matter of fact, the fossil record actually proves evolution never happened. "Fossils Make A Monkey Out Of Evolution" describes in detail evolution's incompatibility with the fossil record. The book availabe on Amazon or at:
Josh Greenberger
New York
September 18, 2014
You win,
By default.
You are allowed to say anything you want including insulting the Sages, and I am not allowed to respond, no matter how civilized and polite my response is.

Obviously it is the goal of the Chabad website to promote anything that goes against everything I was taught in yeshivah, and everything Chabad told me about G-d and Emunah must all be nothing but the ramblings of rabbis who are and were obviously nothing but foolish "primatives".

I have wasted my life trying to follow such wrong teachings, and am far too old to try and start my life all over again as the "enlightened", secular person, Chabad obviously wants me to be.

With no life and no solid belief system I have nothing but pain and suffering in my miserable life.
But on the bright side, I can now commit suicide without committing any sins since it was all a bunch of garage anyway.

To hell with everything, I will now go and look for the fastest most painless way to off myself.
Brooklyn New York
September 17, 2014
"Still waiting on proof of evolution"
There is no proof, but there's plenty of empirical evidence. However, no
evidence will suffice for some, and to those I say you're throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Let me emphasize that "random chance" is not part of the theory of evolution. It was added by atheists who think they can disprove G-d. There's no evidence that anything happened by "random chance." I suspect that, if evolution weren't equated with "random chance," we wouldn't be having this debate at all.

Don't throw the good science out with the bad. If you're seriously willing to
consider the evidence, there are books I can recommend.
San Jose, CA
September 17, 2014
Re: Tzvi Freeman
What & How are covered by scientists, I believe you are talking about the 3rd idea, 'Who' Who created all? We all know Nature was created by God.

Charles Darwin said "The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for 
the existence of God."
Albert Einstein had proclaimed "Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe."
Atheists who exercise their right of free will, should not blind us from reality.

The real issue is 'Was Adam the first man?' According to the Rambam, when science & Torah are at odds, one must reinterpreted their understanding of the Torah.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of the literal text of Genesis can easily conclude that Adam was NOT the first man. Couple this with all scientific discoveries & the words of our Sages in support, one cannot derive any other conclusion.
Brooklyn NY
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