By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
Dear Rabbi Fried,
I’m having a little problem with reconciling what we’re being taught in high school and religious school.
In high school, we’re taught that we are the products of evolution and random mutations. In religious school we’re taught that God created the world in six days and created each thing within the world by design.
I have trouble thinking that Judaism contradicts scientific facts that have been proven for many years, but I also believe in God. Can you help me?
— Allison B.
The first thing, which is very important to know, is that evolution is a theory and should be taught as such, not proven scientific knowledge.
In fact, a tremendous amount of literature has been written which suggest that evolution is statistically problematic, even implausible, as the chances of any one evolutionary variation leading to life as we know it are nearly nil, let alone that all the changes necessary to have life as we now know it.
Sir Francis Crick has said we can’t even know the probabilities, as evolution doesn’t give us the process by which any of these changes are to have taken place. Others who have calculated probabilities have said one would have to write enough zeros to circle the earth, perhaps more than once, to finally put the one after them to illustrate how farfetched is the likelihood that life as we know it came about by chance mutations with no guiding force.
The most basic assumption of evolution is problematic. Evolution assumes that self-replicators came about that replicated themselves with some degree of efficiency, mutating one time in 1,000, etc, leading to changes in the species and new species. Where did these self-replicators come from? Were they a protein or a DNA?
The problem is, neither a protein or a DNA or RNA can reproduce without the other. Only a DNA coupled with a protein can replicate itself. Without both of them, you can’t have a cell. Did they both spontaneously get generated at the same time and join together to make a self-replicating system? What’s the likelihood that happened?
Real science needs real theories that are subject to testing and being proven or unproven. Evolution doesn’t seem to work that way, as it doesn’t provide any system one could prove.
If anything, the existing fossil record doesn’t show the gradual point-mutations postulated by Darwin. Rather, there are huge gaps in the development of species. Darwin answered that this is due to the lack of sufficient fossils, but don’t worry — if we’ll find enough fossils, you’ll find what I claim. Is this the way science works?
Evolutionists have come up with another answer to this problem — called punctuated equilibrium, or occasional spurts of quick evolutionary growth. Is that really plausible? If the giraffe suddenly sprouted a long neck to deal with its need to reach high trees, did a stronger heart to pump the blood to its brain, the nervous system and the new balance system to prevent it from falling on its face when it reached out to eat its first leaf also sprout with the neck? Possible, but probable?
Also, where does human intelligence fit in? How did the capacity to produce Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in C minor develop in man’s struggle to survive the saber-toothed tiger and gather more berries? Complex mathematical theorems to boot?
Scientists have raised numerous other issues with evolution. If one looks at websites where people challenge evolutionists on these and other issues, one would be surprised how angry and upset they become, inspiring many to wonder if evolution is really a science; or has it become a sort of religion, allowing atheists to be comfortable not having to confront the uncomfortable conclusions of creation.
We could discuss the Torah’s view on the age of the universe at a different time. We do actually believe that God created the world with all possible species interlocking at every level.
The Kabbalists teach that God wanted to reveal Himself in the world, with all His loving kindness and wisdom, at every possible level, from the most simple cells until man who is created in the image of God. Therefore He created every level of species, which give the appearance that they evolved one from the other. Even if they did, it was done with God’s guiding hand, not by chance.
Darwin made brilliant observations; we just differ on his conclusions. You need not have any contradictions between science and Torah. All it takes is to know what’s really science and what it says in the Torah.
I recommend you check out www.dovidgottlieb.com. Listen to the class on evolution in the audio section and read the article on evolution in the miscellaneous section.
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel, Questions can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.