Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Education Ministry introduces theory of evolution into schools, but human-ape connection omitted out of concern for Orthodox

Times of Israel    Finches, doves, snails and tortoises will be on the agenda when evolution enters Israeli schools for the first time next year, but humans’ common ancestry with primates will be left off the curriculum, the Education Ministry announced Sunday. 

Until now evolution wasn’t part of the Israeli middle school core curriculum, and only the biblical account of the origins of humanity were taught in schools. 

Only those students who opted to take advanced biology classes encountered Darwin’s theory during their education.

The Education Ministry’s new plan announced Sunday revamps the 8th and 9th grade curricula in all public schools to include the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection — bar mention of mankind’s common origins with primates.

According to Channel 2 news, the ministry’s decision to omit mention of human evolution was made out of concern about potential criticism from the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox populations in Israel. Strict Orthodox Judaism interprets the Bible’s account of creation as literal, thus precluding the possibility of human evolution from a common ancestor with modern apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.
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update There are a number of issues 1) historically did evolution occur? 2) If evolution didn't happen- is it useful to organize data and make predictions about biology? 3) Is there any Torah source which explicity rejects the possibility of evolution - even under Divine guidance? 4) Is it a required article of faith that evolution did not happen and that one must believe that the  creation process as described in the Torah - must be taken as literally true?

update Seforim Blog - Dr. Marc Shapiro discusses Rav Kook's view

Rav S. R. Hirsch (Educational Value of Judaism Collected Writings #7 page 265): Judaism is not frightened even by the hundreds of thousands and millions of years which the geological theory of the earth's deve­lopment bandies about so freely. Judaism would have nothing to fear from that theory even if it were based on something more than mere hypothesis, on the still unproven presumption that the forces we see at work in our world today are the same as those that were in existence, with the same degree of potency, when the world was first created. Our Rabbis, the Sages of Judaism, discuss (Midrash Rabbah 9; Chagiga 16a) the possibility that earlier worlds were brought into existence and subsequently destroyed by the Creator before He made our own earth in its present form and order. However, the Rabbis have never made the acceptance or rejection of this and similar pos­sibilities an article of faith binding on all Jews. They were willing to live with any theory that did not reject the basic truth that "every beginning is from God." In fact, they were generally averse to specula­tions about what was in the past and what will be in the future, because, in their view, such questions transgressed the limits of that which is knowable to man, or, at best, they did not enhance man's understanding of his moral function. In the view of our Rabbis, the Book of Books was intended to be mankind's guide for life on earth as it is at present, to teach man to recognize God, in the here and now, as the everlasting Creator and Master of the universe, and to worship Him by faithfully obeying the laws by which He governs mankind.

9 comments :

  1. Evolution is a failed scientific theory. It depends on punctuated
    equilibrium or sudden non incremental jumps in the evolutionary change,
    it offers no explanation for double and triple dependencies such as bees
    and fruit and others and there is no single complete incremental change
    in the fossil record. The fossil record also has inversions where the
    more complex creatures are further down than the more primitive.

    There is a youtube video about the head of the woodpecker which can't be explained at all by evolution.


    Overall, evolution fails to describe the massive intelligence and
    complexity in nature which can only be explained by an infinitely
    intelligent and benificent G-d.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Evolution is a failed scientific theory. It depends on punctuated
    equilibrium or sudden non incremental jumps in the evolutionary change,
    it offers no explanation for double and triple dependencies such as bees
    and fruit and others and there is no single complete incremental change
    in the fossil record. The fossil record also has inversions where the
    more complex creatures are further down than the more primitive.

    There is a youtube video about the head of the woodpecker which can't be explained at all by evolution.


    Overall, evolution fails to describe the massive intelligence and
    complexity in nature which can only be explained by an infinitely
    intelligent and benificent G-d.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Woodpecker tongue and head explained:


    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/woodpecker/woodpecker.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. There are a number of issues 1) historically did evolution occur? 2) If it didn't occur is it way to organize and relate creatures i.e., is it useful? 3) Is there any Torah source which explicity rejects the possiblity of evolution - even under Divine guidance?

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are good points. Historically, there is clear evidence of other
    species, such as dinosaurs. The idea that these evolved into other
    species is the theoretical part, and I do not think it is proven.
    However,
    genetic changes do occur in biology. Whether these are enough to jump
    the gap between species , is still open to debate.
    They will claim
    that we share 99.5% of our DNA with Chimps. So we are "related" in some
    way. The Torah makes a distinction between us and other creatures, in
    that we have Tzelem Elokim.

    So the physical connection is not
    the important issue - it is a qualitative difference. Also, I have not
    seen any evidence of a new specie arising through evolution, in recorded
    history. Viruses, microbes can rapidly adapt and gain immunity to
    drugs. But viruses are simply small bits of dna, not large organisms.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Garnel IronheartJune 3, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    The problem with teaching science isn't the material. How is it wrong to learn about how God runs the universe?
    The problem is the teacher. If the teacher is God fearing and presents science as the work of the Creator and makes sure the class knows that he is trying to give the students a better understanding of Creation, well and good.
    If he's not God fearing and uses every point to say "And see! God doesn't exist!" then it's a problem.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hareidim force some of their members into bigotry and hypocrisy - and I suppose it is not only the gays - who are forced into marriage and then cheat on their wives with other men.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4527108,00.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bonobos show altruism, and gemillus chassadim - was the human neshama also part of evolution? {rhetorical question]
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140610-bonobos-great-apes-animals-science-evolution/

    ReplyDelete
  9. Eruvin (100b): Even if the Torah hadn't been given it would be possible to learn proper conduct from observing animals. Modesty from the cat, avoidance of theft from ants, avoidance of adultery from the dove and sexual conduct from the rooster

    ReplyDelete

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