As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
There has been a lot of recent discussion in The Jewish Press about whether evolution and Torah are compatible. In my view they are not only compatible, they are intertwined. I believe in the evolutionary process. I also believe that God created the world just as it says in Parshas Bereishis. How is that possible? First, a little bit of my own personal history on the subject.
Back in the sixties, long before anyone thought about synthesis between Torah, evolution, and concepts like “Intelligent Design,” I was taught the theory of evolution by a completely Orthodox Jewish college professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He was quite an interesting fellow and had actually done work on discovering DNA. He told us that he firmly believed in the theory of evolution, including the randomness factor. Yet he was a shomer Torah u’mitzvos and definitely not a kofer (heretic). He was a respected member of academia and the Torah world.
Many of the frum students in our class were shocked that a frum Jew could believe in something like this, as we all had been indoctrinated into thinking that evolution was a completely false theory invented by atheists. But as the course progressed, this frum professor convinced us that Torah and evolutionary science are indeed compatible. This changed my entire perspective on science and Torah, which I realized are not only compatible but inseparable. The Torah was written for the real world – the world that science studies, the world that exists in metzius (reality). That, after all, is what science is: the study of metzius and nothing else.
The wonderful thing about science is that it has at its core no underlying belief system. Nothing is sacrosanct in science. A fact that seems to be proven today can be discarded tomorrow with the discovery of new facts. So, for a time in my life, I was a believer in the theory of evolution in all its radiant glory including the randomness factor, which I thought did not deny anything in the Torah. And the closer I looked at the Torah narrative the more I saw harmony between the sequence of the evolutionary process and the order of creation, thus indicating compatibility.
At about the time that I had developed my own synthesis of the Torah narrative of creation and evolution, I came across a book by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Rejoice, O Youth, in which he attempted to refute the theory of evolution. I was very upset at what I felt were the poor arguments he made and feared his rejectionist attitude would turn off serious students of science who were also yereim u’shleimim - frum Jews who wanted nothing more than to serve God and His Torah but who also could not deny what science had taught them.
Although evolutionary theory is not proven in the absolute, the evidence for evolution is overwhelming and independently derived by many different disciplines, all of which seem to converge in the same way, reaching the same conclusions: That evolution indeed took place.
But does that mean it just “happened” – that it was random, with no guidance from Hashem?
After many years of searching for Emes, I have come to my own conclusion that while evolution may indeed be the process by which God created the species, the chances of random sudden mutation is a highly unlikely proposition. Not that it is impossible, just unlikely in the extreme.
What I believe in firmly now is the concept of Intelligent Design – that God for His own reasons created a universe that followed a natural evolutionary path, but one that was purposefully guided by Him. In this way one can deal with both scientific evidence and the rational deduction that something does not come from nothing, and that there must therefore be a Creator.
About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at email@example.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
There were no airs about him. Rav Moshe was affectionately known as the Gaon of Normalcy.
Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.
Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general
Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.
In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.
Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address
Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.
I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.
The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.
UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites
Mentioning genocide in the same breath as Susan Rice crosses a redline about Obama’s foreign policy
Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society
If Bibi is in the US already Pres. Obama MUST meet with the leader of America’s closest ally!
Sherut Leumi is the national service many women choose in lieu of military service-
My understanding of Footsteps is that they have no religious – or anti-religious agenda.
A violent confrontation between 2 groups erupted at the Ponevezh Yeshiva; dozens injured
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/evolution-the-age-of-the-universe-and-rabbi-aryeh-kaplan/2006/06/21/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: