Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Evolution and Religion - an update by an evolutionary biologist

 Update Oct 8, 2014

update - added additional sources Oct 2, 2014

While the majority position in the Chareidi world is that Evolution is heresy as is the belief that the world is more than 6000 years old  - there are minority views. Regarding the age of the universe - I asked both Rav Yisroel Belsky and Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky this question and both said it is not heresy because there are statements of Chazal that indicate an old universe. [There is a list in Torah Shleima Bereishis]. Similarly regarding evolution - aside from Rav Kook - it seems that Rav Soleitchik accepted an evolutionary creation of Man. Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky was asked about it and he said it not a horrible thing to belief in an evolution process - which is similar to the view of Rav Hirsch. Rav Kasher wrote an article providing sources in Chazal that supported an evolutionary creation process.
NY Times   EVERY year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion, and how they get along. More to the point, how they don’t.

I’m a biologist, in fact an evolutionary biologist, although no biologist, and no biology course, can help being “evolutionary.” My animal behavior class, with 200 undergraduates, is built on a scaffolding of evolutionary biology.

And that’s where The Talk comes in. It’s irresponsible to teach biology without evolution, and yet many students worry about reconciling their beliefs with evolutionary science. Just as many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a “theory,” but the underpinning of all biological science, a substantial minority of my students are troubled to discover that their beliefs conflict with the course material.

Until recently, I had pretty much ignored such discomfort, assuming that it was their problem, not mine. Teaching biology without evolution would be like teaching chemistry without molecules, or physics without mass and energy. But instead of students’ growing more comfortable with the tension between evolution and religion over time, the opposite seems to have happened. Thus, The Talk.

There are a few ways to talk about evolution and religion, I begin. The least controversial is to suggest that they are in fact compatible. Stephen Jay Gould called them “nonoverlapping magisteria,” noma for short, with the former concerned with facts and the latter with values. He and I disagreed on this (in public and, at least once, rather loudly); he claimed I was aggressively forcing a painful and unnecessary choice, while I maintained that in his eagerness to be accommodating, he was misrepresenting both science and religion.

In some ways, Steve has been winning. Noma is the received wisdom in the scientific establishment, including institutions like the National Center for Science Education, which has done much heavy lifting when it comes to promoting public understanding and acceptance of evolution. According to this expansive view, God might well have used evolution by natural selection to produce his creation.

This is undeniable. If God exists, then he could have employed anything under the sun — or beyond it — to work his will. Hence, there is nothing in evolutionary biology that necessarily precludes religion, save for most religious fundamentalisms (everything that we know about biology and geology proclaims that the Earth was not made in a day).

So far, so comforting for my students. But here’s the turn: These magisteria are not nearly as nonoverlapping as some of them might wish.

As evolutionary science has progressed, the available space for religious faith has narrowed: It has demolished two previously potent pillars of religious faith and undermined belief in an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God.[...]


  =======================Rav Kook ============

Rav Kook[1](Letters 1:91):[[ 1. Even to the ancients, it was well known that there were many periods that preceded our counting of nearly six thousand years for the current era. According to the Midrash [Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit ch. 3], "God built worlds and destroyed them," before He created the universe as we know it. Even more astonishing, the Zohar [Vayikra 10a] states that there existed other species of human beings besides the 'Adam' who is mentioned in the Torah. 2. We must be careful not to regard current scientific theories as proven facts, even if they are widely accepted. Scientists are constantly raising new ideas, and all of the scientific explanations of our time may very well come to be laughed at in the future as imaginative drivel. 3. The fundamental belief of the Torah is that God created and governs the universe. The means and methods by which He acts, regardless of their complexity, are all tools of God, Whose wisdom is infinite. Sometimes we specifically mention these intermediate processes, and sometimes we simply say, 'God formed' or 'God created.' For example, the Torah writes about "the house that King Solomon built" [I Kings 6:2]. The Torah does not go into the details of Solomon speaking with his advisors, who in turn gave instructions to the architects, who gave the plans to the craftsmen, who managed and organized the actual building by the workers. It is enough to say, 'Solomon built.' The rest is understood, and is not important. So too, if God created life via the laws of evolution, these are details irrelevant to the Torah's central message, namely, the ethical teaching of a world formed and governed by an involved Creator. 4. The Torah concealed much with regard to the process of creation, speaking in parables and ciphers. Creation - referred to as "Ma'aseh Bereishit" by the Kabbalists - clearly belongs to the esoteric part of Torah [see Chaggigah 11b]. If the Torah's account of creation is meant to be understood literally, what are its profound secrets? If everything is openly revealed, what is left to be explained in the future? God limits revelations, even from the most brilliant and sublime prophets, according to the ability of that generation to absorb the information. For every idea and concept, there is significance to the hour of its disclosure. For example, if knowledge of the rotation of the Earth on its axis and around the sun had been revealed to primitive man, his courage and initiative may have been severely retarded - by fear of falling. Why attempt to build tall buildings on top of an immense ball turning and whizzing through space at high speeds? Only after a certain intellectual maturity, and scientific understanding about gravity and other compensating forces, were human beings ready for this knowledge. The same is true regarding spiritual and moral ideas. The Jewish people struggled greatly to explain the concept of Divine providence to the pagan world. This was not an easy idea to market. Of what interest should the actions of an insignificant human be to the Creator of the universe? Belief in the transcendental importance of our actions is a central principle in Judaism, and was disseminated throughout the world by her daughter religions. But if mankind had already been aware of the true dimensions of the cosmos, and the relatively tiny world that we inhabit - could this fundamental concept of Torah have had any chance in spreading? Only now, that we have greater confidence in our power and control over the forces of nature, is awareness of the grandiose scale of the universe not an impediment to these basic ethical values. To summarize: Ancient Jewish sources also refer to worlds that existed prior to the current era of six thousand years. One should not assume that the latest scientific theories are eternal truths. The purpose of the Torah is a practical one - to have a positive moral influence on humanity, and not to serve as a primer for physicists and biologists. It could very well be that evolution, etc., are the tools by which God created the world. Some ideas are intentionally kept hidden, as the world may not be ready for them, psychologically or morally. [adapted from Igrot HaRe'iyah vol. I, pp. 105-7] Copyright © 2006 by Chanan Morrison

[1]  רב קוק (אגרות הראיה א:צא ע' ק"ה): וע,ד מנין שנות היצירה ביחש להחשבונות הגיאולוגיים בזמנינו. כך היא הלכה רווחת, שהיו כבר תקופות רבות קודם למנין תקקופתנו הוא מפורסם בכל המקובלים הקדמונים. ובמד"ר "שהי' בונה עולמות ומחריבן" ובזוהר פ' ויקרא דף י. שהיו כמה מיני אנשים חוץ מאדם  שנאמר בתורה: אלא ששם צריך להשכיל יפה את המליצות העמוקות, הצריכות ביאור רחב מאד מאד. א"כ אותן החפירות מורות לנו, שנמצאו תקופות של ברואים, ואנשים בכללם, אבל שלא היה בינתים חורבן כללי, ויצירה חדשה, ע"ז אין מופת מוכיח, כ"א השערות פורחות באויר, שאין לחוש להן כלל. אבל באמת אין אנו נזקקים לכל זה, שאפילו אם הי' מתברר לנו שהי' סדר היצירה בדרך התפתחות המינים ג"כ אין שום סתירה, שאנו מונים כפי הפשטות של פסוקי תורה, שנוגע לנו הרבה יותר מכל הידיעות הקדומות, שאין להן עמנו ערך מרובה. והתורה ודאי סתמה במעשה בראשית, ודברה ברמיזות ומשלים, שהרי הכל יודעים שמעשה בראשית הם מכלל סתרי תורה, ואם היו כל הדברים רק פשוטם איזה סתר שי כאן, וכבר אמרו במדבר (רמב"ם פתיחת מורה נבוכים רמב"ן בראשית א) "להגיד כח מעשה בראשית לבו"ד א"א, לפיכך סתם הכתוב בראשית ברא אלקים". והעיקר היא הידיעה העולה מכל הענין לדעת ד', וחיי המוסר אמיתי, והקב"ה נותן במשקל אפילו הרוח שחל על הנביאים (תזריע פ'  טו), הוא צמצם שדוקא כששיכנסו הדברים הגדולים שבאלהה הענינים בבאלה הציורים יוכלו בנ"א לשאוב מהם, עם כל השתדלותם, את כל היותר מועיל ונשגב להם. ואור יקרות וקפאון, שהם סתרי תורה, שבעוה"ז הם יקרים ויהיו קפויים _פסחים נ, במדבר רבה פ' יט) לע"ל רק הוא יגלה לנופרטי הדברים. אבל  עכ"פ אין שום סתירה לשום דבר מן התורה מכל דעה מחקרית שבעולם כלל, אלא שאין אנחנו צריכים לקבל השערות לודאיות, אפיל יהיו מסכמות הרבה, כי הן כציץ נובל, שעוד מעט יתפתחו יותר כלי הדרישה, ותהיינה כל השערות החדשות ללעג  ולקלס, וכל החכמות הנעלות שבינימו לקטנות המוח ודבר אלקינו יקום לעולם. "כי ההרים ימושו והגבעות תמוטינה, והסדי מאתך לא מוש וברית שלומי לא תמוט אמר מרחמך ד'" . כי יסוד הכל הוא מה שאנחנו מלמדים בעולם, שהכל פועל ד'. והאמצעיים רבים או מועטים, לרבבי רבבות, הם הכל מעשי ד', שלא חיסר מעולמו כלום, ושאין קץ לגבורתו ועז חכמתו ותפארתו ב"ה וב"ש לעדי עד. ופעמים שאמחנו מזכירים את האמצעיים ג"כ בשם, להרחבי את הדעת, ולפעמים אנו אומרים בדרך דילוג "ויצר ד'" "ויעש ד'" כמו שאנו אומרים "אז יבנה שלמה", ואין אומרים ששלמה צוה לשרים והשרים לנמוכים מהם, והם להאדריכלים והאדריכלים לאומנים והאומנים לעושי המלאכה הפשוטים, מפני שהוא דרך ידוע, וגם איננו עקרי. כן כל מה שיחקר בהרבה רבבות שנים בהגדלת הדרים והאמצעיים, שהם מוסיפים לנו דעה והשכל בגאון ד', המה ברב הפעמים מקוצרים, ותוכן הדבר שיש משקל מיוחד לכל רעיון ומחשבה לזמן לידתו ופעולתו, באין שום מקרה והזדמנות בלתי מכוונת כלל. למשן אנחנו יכולים להבין, אם הי' נודע דבר תנועת האץ לפני כמה אלפים שנה למפרע בהמון הי' המין האנושי מתירא לעמוד על רגליו. פן יפול מכך התנועה וק"ו שהי' מתירא לנות בנינים רמים, וזה הי' מביאו לרפיון לב למניעת פיתוח שאין לשער. והחשבון של כח המושך לא הי' יכול להבטיהו, אחרי ראותו בעיניו שכל דבר העומד על דבר מתנעע איננו בטוח מנפילה, רק אחרי בגרות של הרגל יפה היה מקום לצאת ההכרה של תנועת הארץ, שלא תקבל האנושיות מזה אך טוב.


  1. Asher pihem diber shavSeptember 30, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Perfect for the New York Times. The guy with the beard. He is the knowledgeable one. He is just looking for the truth. Of course.

    Reality is that his points are incorrect. A complex watch does show of a watchmaker. Humans are different than animals in intellect and speech. (anyone seen the zebra stock exchange, or the baboon construction company ? I must have missed it.) He admits himself that if this power God exists, there is no telling on how he created the world.

    What I am always surprised with these fanatical evolutionists, is how they always turn to emotion. (You'd think emotion has nothing to do with their science). How there is bad that happens to good species. Why is that science ? Darwin himself was obsessed with parasites, and the pain they receive. This has absolutely nothing to do with the evidence of a God.
    This tells me they are out to disprove God, not to understand science.

    Conclusion. While deceptive, and arrogant, these believers in evolution are basing their beliefs on a mixture of emotion, facts that don't prove their points, and what ifs.

  2. Evolution is a faith based atheist religion, which violates scientific principles (such as the laws of entropy) and for which there is no real evidence in the fossil record. For example, the fossil record clearly shows that species appear suddenly and then later disappear without any significant change. Also evolution is at a complete loss to explain the origin of life. Despite numerous experiments no scientist has ever produced life from non-life in a laboratory.

    Most evolution fundamentalists (such as Natan Slifkin) simply gloss over and ignore the massive scientific evidence against evolution. The great rabbinic authority Tiferes Yisrael, whose famous "Drush Or HaChaim" sermon argues for an ancient earth, but not evolution, brings opinions of the renowned scientist Dr. Georges Cuvier. Dr. Cuvier firmly opposed evolution and believed that species appeared and disappeared in the fossil record without significant changes. Searching Slifkin's blog, I found thousands of links to evolution, but no mention of Dr. Cuvier.

    The documentary "Expelled: No intelligence allowed" contains a great expose of the totalitarian group think among the university evolution fundamentalists. It also exposes the connection between evolutionary theories and Nazi genocide.

    A recent book that powerfully and brilliantly refutes Darwinism is "Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design" by Stephen C. Meyer.

    Also material on the (non-Jewish) website contains many powerful refutations of the evolution religion.

  3. There are billions of people in the world. Of course you'll find some people who agree with these "refutations". But by citing these scientists and sources you are clearly making an argument based on authority. The problem is that there are far more authority figures in science who disagree. If you are not yourself a scientific authority, isn't it unfair to choose to follow a tiny minority of authorities just because they agree with your religious world view?

  4. Evolution does not contradict god... it might contradict the god of some organized religions though.

  5. Certainly, evolution isn't a waterproof system yet. But it's advancing. Since Darwin's day the discoveries of genetics and mutations have provided a mechanism no one dreamed of. Nuclear theory provided huge amounts of time for it to happen - a coal driven sun doesn't last long. Carbon dating proved that things go back. Genetic typing shows how species are related. Cosmology shows that even the universe is evolving and that there are oodles of galaxies for the chances to play out. Quantum theory and other theories provide even more time and places for the odds to even. Science still has a way to go but with patience it'll get there.

  6. I find it strange that people still try to rationalise their refusal to accept that evolution is a scientific fact. Evolution is not a theory that is up for discussion and there is no minority of scientists who disagree with it. Otherwise intelligent religious Jews just seem to go daft whenever evolution is mentioned. Get over it.
    Why is it so hard to accept the opinion of the rambam who says the creation described in bereishis is not to be taken literally. Or of the ramban who says the only actual thing created was a one speck and everything came from that. Why can you not accept that maybe these rishonim were right! It is just mind boggling how the idea of evolution has you so scared that you ignore all opinions that would allow it to fit in with the Torah.

  7. If there is incontrovertible evidence that the world is ancient? Are you being serious? It's like trying to convince a child that a ball is round and he insists that it is square. They have buildings and skeletons over 6000 years old. Next you will say that you don't believe that dinosaurs existed.

  8. Sorry - I'm sure you're a fine chap, but experience shows that entering into these sorts of dialogues is a futile exercise. You yourself said that evolution is "not up for discussion." You can continue to insult me if it makes you feel better, and perhaps comparing me to a child will convince other visitors to this blog how absolutely correct you must be.

  9. "evolution is a scientific fact" - Scientific theories are not accepted by intellectually honest people unless and until verified by rigorous experimental evidence. Please describe for me a scientific experiment where you or anyone else observed where a species changed into a more advanced species by purely natural causes, and that species then acquired new, more advanced genetic material that it was able to pass onto its offspring. If you cannot provide such experimental evidence, then your acceptance of evolution is a type of faith based religion, not science.

    Modern atheistic science is promoting many non-falsifiable faith based theories, such as multiverse and string theory. Has anyone actually observed strings or other universes?

    "Why can you not accept that maybe these rishonim were right!" - Please quote for me where any Rishonim taught Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

  10. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 1, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    TruthJew david • 9 hours ago

    "evolution is a scientific fact" - Scientific theories are not accepted by intellectually honest people unless and until verified by rigorous experimental evidence.

    You do realize that gravity is a theory right? So is how and that Germs are the cause of infectious disease, and the structure and behavior of human cells. Known as Gravitational theory, Germ theory and cell theory respectively.

    Please describe for me a scientific experiment where you or anyone else observed where a species changed into a more advanced species by purely natural causes, and that species then acquired new, more advanced genetic material that it was able to pass onto its offspring.

    Yes they actually have. In birds known as Darwins finches on the Gallapagos islands, in various forms of bacteria for instance:

    So while rare that it is observed because of the random nature of evolutionary jumps it has been observed.

  11. Asher pihem diber shavOctober 1, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    You have obviously been fooled by someone. Probably yourself.

  12. Any serious conversation about evolution as a scientific theory will have to deal with the question of how one single, fertilized cell is able to develop into a living, breathing, highly functional living organism.

    Within that single cell (and the environment it is found in -- such as the mothers womb) is seemingly everything needed to create a mouse or a dog or a human, depending on the cell and the environment.

    So what's in there? What is happening as that cell divides and then divides again and again and again? If we can answer that question, we can then begin to address the question of what would have to change in that cell in order to create a different, functional living creature. We can then also start to investigate if there exists any laws of nature, biological processes and/or environmental influences which individually or collectively could effect those changes.

    The truth is that we don't know what is fully involved in the process of embryonic development, but a lot has been learned. There are integrated regulatory systems which determine which cells take on which functions (such as which cells become blood cells, which ones brain cells, which one heart cells, etc.). This all has to be coordinated in 3-d space and time and involves (among other things) sophisticated cellular communication systems.

    There is also epigenetic information, which is information outside of the DNA which dictates which (among other things) turns some genes on and others off.

    Other factors seem to be the physical structure of various elements within the cell itself and (perhaps) how the developing embryo interacts with the mothers embryo.

    What all of this means is that one can make as many changes as they want to DNA (random or directed) and still not be able to change one living species (or genus or family) into a different species (or genus or family).

    Furthermore, singular, step-by-step changes simply won't cut it. The changes that need to be made are multiple, sophisticated, and highly integrated. Change one thing and you have to change another - otherwise you'll end up with a dead or crippled embryo (with nothing for natural selection to select).

    If a real theory of evolution is ever to be developed (that is, a theory whereby one can actually point to a real mechanism that is capable of transforming one species or genus into another) then it is clear that that mechanism and theory will cry out that there is a Creator as much as the fine-tunings of the laws of physics do. It will obviously be a mechanism that is built into life with the goal of purposefully directing life to diversify and develop.

    There is simply no other way to transform multiple, sophisticated, integrated, finely tuned systems that function to produce one specific, highly functional result into a different set of multiple, sophisticated, integrated, finely tuned systems which produce a different specific, specific highly functional result.

    I would add, by the way, that I don't see any problem teaching biology without ever mentioning or thinking about evolution. Anatomy, molecular and cellular biology, embryonic development, etc. would all continue along just fine. The cell (and how it works), DNA (and how it works), animal behavior and animal anatomy were all discovered and understood without any help from evolutionary theory.

    In fact, it really works the other way around -- evolutionary theory is suppose to explain that which was discovered independent of the theory. It doesn't, but that's not the point. The point is that the claim that evolutionary theory forms the foundation of biology is simply rhetoric without any intellectual foundation to it.

    I would argue that the theory of the cell is the real foundation of modern biology -- which is much more comprable to the ideas and theory at the foundation of chemistry and physics.

  13. Rabbi,

    When you talk about 'evolution', what do you have in mind? Change over time or the process of random mutations plus natural selection (or something else).

  14. You are using the term 'theory'. Evolution is not a theory. That is because it has indeed be verified by rigorous experimental evidence. I know that that is not what they teach otherwise open minded religious jews but it is true. Evolution has been rigorously verified and the entire scientific community accepts that it is factual.
    I have no intention on going through the evidence because for a start I am not an expert and secondly there is no point as you wouldn't listen. If you are interested there is a lot of literature on the subject both in books and online. It is actually fascinating to read through the process, for example of how eyes evolved, to see the various animals they have each with different stages of the eye. As a haredi youth I had always been taught that things like eyes proved evolution couldn't have happened but when you see the evidence of the animals (fish actually) who each have a different step to our eyes it just shows how much misinformation had been fed to us.

    Rishonim didn't teach evolution but many did teach that creation in beraishis wasn't literal and there is no reason to suppose that evolution didn't happen. An acharon, Rav SR Hirsch actually stated very clearly that there would be no problem with believing in evolution could it be proven (in his time it hadn't and so he didn't accept it).

    The nearest I can find to an early Godol talking about evolution is the Soforno on beraishis: וַיּאמֶר אֱלהִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם. מִין מִמִּינֵי "נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה" שֶׁיָּצַרְתִּי שֶׁשְּׁמו "אָדָם", כְּאָמְרו "וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה" (להלן ב, ז), א נַעֲשֵׂהוּ.
    Where he seems to explicitly state that the creature 'adam' was taken and made in to Hashem's image (intelligent).

  15. David,

    When you make the statement that 'evolution is a scientific fact', have you made it after acquainting yourself with the cell, DNA, and embryonic development?

    Have you also done so after familiarizing yourself with that group of scientists who are attempting to develop a new theory of evolution because they think the current theory of random mutations plus natural selection is just false, but do not wish to embrace a position of creationism:

    At the same time, are you able to clearly and articulately tell us what exactly the theory of evolution claims? That is, do you have a basic college level understanding of the theory?

    If the answer to the above questions are 'no' then on what basis do you claim that 'evolution is a scientific fact'? My sense is that it is because we have been told over and over again that it is a fact.

    The reason why people like myself don't buy that is because when one actually looks at the theory, sees what it tries to explain and notes the evidence brought to bear one is less than impressed (to put it mildly).

    Then add to that the seeming inability of many evolutionary biologist to confront real, honest scientific questions and challenges (often times brought up by other scientists) and the strength of the challenges that they avoid.

    I will end by paraphrasing David Berlinski (a secular Jew):

    'While opposition to Darwinian theory is not widespread, there has always been a consistent group of people -- mathematicians, physicists and some very good speculative biologists who simply don't accept and who don't even consider it a scientific theory in the real sense of the term.'

  16. To Rabbi Tzadok,

    Finch beaks are variations WITHIN a species -- the question was about changing from a less sophisticated species to a more sophisticated species.

    The article about bacteria was not a scientific experiment or observation. They claim the event happened 5 million years ago.

    But all of this misses the real point. The key is to think about what needs to be changed in one organism in order to turn it into a different organism.

    The changes have to take place in the fertilized cell. Regulatory networks need to be changed, cell structure needs to be changed, epigenetic information needs to be changed. And it all has to be changed in an integrated and interconnected fashion.

    How does that happen? Can it happen? As far as I can tell, no one knows. But this much is sure -- it has falsified the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.

  17. I don't know about 'evolution', but neo-Darwinian theory of evolution surely does contradict the notion that G-d purposely designed and created life on earth.

    Random mutations happen either from copying errors in the DNA which escape the multiple proof-reading processes or as a result of radiation and/or other elements which damage the cell.

    Either way, the source of all novelty according to the theory of revolution are mistakes and randomness. Eyes, ears, wings, brains -- they were all created by random mistakes (with natural selection locking in the beneficial mistakes). This is about as far away as one can get from an intelligent, purposeful Creator as one can imagine.

    So while the theory does not necessarily contradict the existence of G-d, it does state is that G-d was not involved and could care less about the creation of life (including man).

  18. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 1, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    Finch beaks are variations WITHIN a species -- the question was about changing from a less sophisticated species to a more sophisticated species.
    You need to check the definition of species.

    As for the rest of you comment I will just mark that up to your bad reading comprehension.

  19. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 1, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    Have you also done so after familiarizing yourself with that group of scientists who are attempting to develop a new theory of evolution because they think the current theory of random mutations plus natural selection is just false, but do not wish to embrace a position of creationism

    You are setting up a false dichotomy between evolution and creationism.

    I assure you that the many many sources from the Talmud, through the Rishonim, down to the Tiferet Yisrael who held to some theory of evolution also were staunch creationists.

  20. It seems I need to explain something. There is the fact of evolution and there is the theory of evolution.
    The fact is that life evolved from basic cells to what we have today over billions of years. The theory is how it happened. Your group of scientists all agree with the fact of evolution, what they are doing, as you can read on the website, is trying to come up with other theories besides natural selection about how it happened.

    You can only quote these people if you also accept what they are saying about the fact that life evolved and therefore, beraishis is not to be taken literally. And you can accept that maybe the rambam, ramban and other rishonim may have been right.

  21. A relevant quote by Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould: "Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered."

  22. Evolution utterly fails as a scientific theory. It is based on the concept of incremental changes based on the survival of the fittest and through micro changes based on freak positive mutations.

    There is not one instance of a full incremental chain anywhere in the fossil record. The fossil record is also not consistent in that more developed organisms exist below lesser developed remains. The excuse is inversion of the layers but this is a poor explanation. There are sudden jumps in the record where the next level has a radically new developed capability such as an arm where nothing prior to that existed. Jay Gould a famous evolutionist explained this by creating punk eek. Punctuated equilibrium is a theory where sudden massive changes occur for no apparent reason which don't fit the standard evolution dialogue.

    There is no explanation for 2 level or 3 level dependencies. How did the bees coordinate with fruit trees so that both could exist? How did asexual reproduction turn into sexual reproduction? The first billion that practiced sexual reproduction died out when they couldn't coordinate of impregnate the other sex and then 1 passed and quickly died.

    Mathematical probability is against evolution. The vast majority of mutations are harmful. Billions of years are manufactured in order to allow enough time for a vanishingly small subset to go forward. How does it stick? Entropy indicates that things tend to disorder and yet we find mind bending dramatic order and function.

    The astounding complexity of the dna chain is like there being a storm and the next day pieces of wood are found linked together saying Joe was here and it being claimed that this was the natural result of the storm itself without any intelligent participation.

    Evolution hasn't predicted anything.

    In short evolution is the expression of the wishful position that there is no Creator, chas veshalom.

  23. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 2, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    I'm going to ignore most of the nonsense you wrote here, and state simply that your argument is based on(at least) two false assumptions:
    1) That evolution is some new fangled theory, as is the idea of the earth being billions of years old. When in fact Evolutionary theory was first composed by Anaximander and Empedocles in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE respectively. Secondly even amongst our Tannaim were those who said the earth was billions of years old(Rabbi Nehunhia Ben HaKana for example). If you would read the Tiferet Israel's drush Or HaChaim you would see many sources from Chazal supporting this idea.

    2) That evolution is by nature contradictory to the idea of a Creator. Which is simply false. As the the Tiferet Israel and Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan point out in their works, again with numerous sources. You seem to see science as a religion, which is false. The purview of science is to explain what and how things happened/happen, not the why.

  24. Tzadok, you are actually the one who has been repeatedly spewing nonsense on this blog. FactsofLife posting was excellent.

    "If you would read the Tiferet Israel's drush Or HaChaim" - Yes, I have studied it carefully and it makes no mention of any Darwinian type evolution. Tiferet Israel cites Genesis Rabbah 3:8 (also Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Recanati) to show that the world had been created and destroyed a number of times, each time in a greater state of perfection, and that the fossil record confirms this. Tiferet Israel did NOT support Darwinian evolution.

    Tiferet Israel also cites the renowned scientist Dr. Georges Cuvier, who taught "catastrophic theory" while firmly opposing evolution, because species appeared and disappeared in the fossil record without significant changes.

    "Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan point out in their works" - I have one of Rabbi Kaplan's books that cites the Tiferet Israel, and does not support Darwinian evolution as you claim.

  25. Yes, I know that they all hold that evolution happened. And I'm also aware of the claim that there is a distinction between the fact of evolution and the theory. I find it more of a rhetorical claim, than a scientific one.

    Darwin's great hiddus was to come up with a mechanism that could explain how all of life developed from a single, primordial cell. The mechanism doesn't work. It has been falsified.

    The question is, where does that leave us? There are tremendous similarities between animals -- genetically, anatomically, behaviorally, etc. Now, if life evolved from some primordial cell (or group of cells or group of animals) that would help explain why that is so.

    But the fact that it would explain it does not translate into the fact that it does explain it. The lack of a plausible mechanism means that we are pretty much back to square one.

    Indeed, most (if not pretty much all) of the evidence used to show that evolution is a 'fact' is (in my opinion) worthless as none of it focuses on the mechanisms of embryonic development -- BUT THAT IS WHERE ANIMALS ARE FORMED. It's all nice and good if the END 'PRODUCT' is similar, but the question is how is that 'product' made -- and how similar are the programs, codes and structures needed to make that 'product'?

    The real fact of the matter seems to be that we cannot know if any sort of evolutionary history actually happened until we get a) a detailed understanding of how a single cell becomes a living creature and b) knowledge of how that process works across a wide variety of creatures.

    Only at that point will it be possible to take what we know and make comparisons and see if there are any known or conceivable forces, mechanisms or processes which can make the required changes needed to change one form of life to another.

    The scientists in that list are trying to discover what they believe are the mechanisms of evolution. All the power to them, but they should also admit where we are standing scientifically today -- which (at best) is pre-hypothesis stage. That's a long ways away from fact.

  26. 'Some theory of evolution' is too vague a term. You need to define specifically what you are talking about. Some undiscovered, unknown mechanism whereby one animal can evolve into another animal may be workable in the Torah.

    I can also point to sources that could fit in with such a speculative idea (starting with the Malbim in his peirush on Bereishis). But it's pointless to discuss such speculative ideas until someone gives us a reason to take them seriously; that is to say, until such a mechanism is discovered and demonstrated to actually work.

    The mechanism that is widely touted (including in the article above) is random mutations plus natural selection -- and that mechanism is as far away from the Torah as you can get. To understand that point, it is crucial to understand how those mutations are formed and how undirected the entire process is (I hope at some point to write about this on my site).

    Now, the mechanism never was (in my mind) a serious proposal -- not in Darwin's time, not in the time of the Modern Synthesis and certainly not today. Key problems and issues were always avoided -- but the idea of evolution has been taken extremely seriously. And the idea that is taken seriously is the version that most contradicts the Torah.

    So, intellectually speaking, there is nothing to worry about. Socially speaking, it's a big problem.

  27. Hello David,

    Let me make two comments. One, the evidence given for an eye works only because they strip away from the eye all of those elements that don't work within the theory. I assume you are referring to the demonstration of how a flat, light sensitive patch can slowly evolve into a 'fully formed' eyeball -- with each step of the way benefit accruing to the animal.

    The problem are all the other parts of the eye and brain that would have to simultaneously evolve to make this scenario work. For starters, what the eye does (at least the human eye) is translate light waves into a coded message that it sends along to the brain. The key for vision is the coded message and the brains ability to analyze and understand that message.

    What that means is that you can curve that light sensitive patch as much as you want and add as many lenses, muscles and anything else that you could possibly want, none of it will change -- the actual image of the organism won't change if the code is updated AND the brain acquires the capability to understand that new code.

    In short, the eye is a system -- change one element and numerous other elements will have to be updated, otherwise it simply won't work (or make a positive difference). There is much more to say about the eye, but this is just one example.

    In terms of Rav Hirsch, it is crucial to understand that the theory of evolution in the time of Rav Hirsch was notably different than the modern version of the theory. In the time of Rav Hirsch Darwin talked about random variations -- today it is random mutations.

    This difference is not academic. Rav Hirsch could propose (as he actually did) that there is some fundamental law or principle at work behind those random variations. After all, the inner workings of the cell was still a black box in those days.

    Not so random mutations -- in that version there is no law at work, but rather random copying errors that the cell is trying not to make and errors induced by radiation, chemicals and the like.

  28. Rabbi Tzadok,

    I used the terms less and more sophisticated species based on the comment that you quoted and responded to. The issue of what is or is not a species doesn't interest me because the theory is supposed to relate to the creation of all of life from a single cell. So whether or not a creature can vary in such a way so that it is technically a new species is not so interesting or crucial.

    What is important to know is whether or not there is any evidence that a single cell trans-mutated into birds, fish, dolphins and man. Finch beaks don't have much to say about that (unless one looks at Sean Carrol's study of the embryonic development of different finch beaks, then you are getting somewhere, but not a place that helps neo-darwinian evolution).

    In terms of the article -- I looked at the abstract and read through the article (and just read it again). As far as I can tell, they are referring to events that they believe happened 5 million years ago based on comparing genomes. If you know otherwise, please quote the relevant lines.

  29. You did not respond to any of my arguments and just posted nonsense that doesn't relate to anything that I said at all. I have a degree in Physics and was pointing out the extremely poor science in the evolutionary theory.

    My arguments have nothing to do with how old the earth is basically nor how old the theory is. The main points are that there is no evidence of evolution happening in an incremental fashion, probability is against it and it can't explain major facets of the so called evolutionary record. You did not deal with these at all and so your comments can be discounted.

    Despite what you say, the main motivation for evolution is to discount the existence of a creator even though you could say that Hashem yisborach used it if it was useful. Rabbi Akiva was asked how he knew that there was a creator and he answered by pointing out all the marvelous chochma in the live creatures of the world. If evolution can do all that without a creator, there is no evidence for a creator. However, evolution is a sick and falsified.doctrine.

    Rabbi Shimon Schwab z"l said a pshat that goes against the simple understanding of the Ramban that the six days of creation were the same as our current days.He said that the days of beraishis were controlled by the ohr of the shivas hayomim. The meoros weren't there in the first day. There could have been billions of revolutions of the Earth around the sun in one day of ohr shel shivas hayomim. This would account for the so called billions of years.

  30. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 2, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    At your obfuscation again. Please quote specifically where I ever said "Darwinian Evolution."

    Otherwise please apologize for once again lying about what I am saying.

    I recognize that there are several current models as to how evolution may or may not have worked. I make absolutely NO claim to the accuracy of any of them. I am not expert in their details or the scientific research behind them. Personally, for reasons of the large amounts of scientific knowledge that the human race still lacks in ALL fields, I am inclined to believe all of them are currently wrong.

    That however does not negate the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution, by whatever model that actually occurred, seems to have happened, and our sages seem to concur.

    As an example from another field, the theory of gravity. The predominant model only a decade ago was that gravitational fields were directly proportional to mass, and were even across the entire gravitational body. However, we discovered that asteroids have no gravitational fields, that the gravitational fields of certain planets are not as strong as we assumed, and that the gravitational field of the Earth is not constant everywhere on the planet, and that it fluctuates through the year.

    Now, if we can't even create a reliable model for something so easily studied(gravity) something like evolution, which in my opinion depends upon the creative will of HKB"H, and thus science would see as random, obviously has not been accurately modeled to this point.

  31. David,
    I didn't really want to get dragged into this but it is clear that you are an am haaretz in both Torah and science. Just because someone says that something is a fact does not make it a fact. You really don't understand what you are talking about at all. You are a mixed-up "haredi youth" with zero credentials, scientific or otherwise, and you wouldn't know a fact if it hit you in the face.

  32. And Mr. Eidensohn, shame on you for allowing this forum for apikorsus during Aseres Yemei Teshuva. You will have to give a big din vechbon for this. Please change your blog title to "not daat and not Torah" because you don't represent either. And please note how your brother is noticeably absent from these discussions. He refrains from calling you out here so that he can keep the peace, but he doesn't agree with one iota of what you are doing here. I dare you to go to Rav Moshe Shternbuch or Rav Moshe Shapiro, Shlita and show them this post. Rav Moshe, Zatzal, would have cut you off for this as well.

  33. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 2, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    The main points are that there is no evidence of evolution happening in an incremental fashion, probability is against it and it can't explain major facets of the so called evolutionary record. You did not deal with these at all and so your comments can be discounted.

    That is because you wish to force me to defend a single model of evolution, or discount the theory in general. That is a logical fallacy. Simply because a single model is found to be false, does not mean the theory is.

    Despite what you say, the main motivation for evolution is to discount the existence of a creator even though you could say that Hashem yisborach used it if it was useful. Rabbi Akiva was asked how he knew that there was a creator and he answered by pointing out all the marvelous chochma in the live creatures of the world. If evolution can do all that without a creator, there is no evidence for a creator.

    Once again you are setting up a false dichotomy. B'derekh mashal, the Torah tells us that every second of every day HaShem sustains all life. However, we know that the our brains cause our hearts to beat through use of electrical signals, and same with all of our other bodily functions. Thus by your dichotomy it is not Hashem that is sustaining life, but rather our brains by themselves, so that by nature discounts HaShem. It is an absurd false dichotomy. Determining what mechanics HaShem either uses or put in place to do certain things(depending on your view of Hashgacha Pratit) does not discount HaShem.

  34. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    Some theory of evolution' is too vague a term.

    You are confusing Theory with Model. I hold that Theory is all that we can say now. That humanity lacks the fundamental understanding of the universe around him to determine which, if any of the current models have any truth to them.

    The mechanism that is widely touted (including in the article above) is random mutations plus natural selection -- and that mechanism is as far away from the Torah as you can get. To understand that point, it is crucial to understand how those mutations are formed and how undirected the entire process is

    Honestly that would depend on which of many valid Torah Shitot one held to. If you were to hold like Rav Shach TzUK"L that Hashgach pratit only applied to Jews or things directly affecting the daily life of Jews, than not necessarily. Then randomness and natural selection is the way of the non-Jewish world.
    Likewise if you held to absolute Hashgacha pratit like say the Arizal, then what would appear random to human observation we know through our Emunah was actually caused by HaShem.
    Now whether or not that model is scientifically valid does not by necessity remove it from being within the four amot of Torah.

    And the idea that is taken seriously is the version that most contradicts the Torah.

    You have yet to prove that the proposed mechanism of operation is against Torah. Just because we can define the mechanism that govern something, does not mean that it is anti-Torah.
    Further I would claim that the best you could prove is that any particular model of evolution contradicts a paticular shita of Jewish philosophy. That does not by necessity make it anti-Torah.

  35. You actually made me laugh. You call me an am ha-aretz because I think that if 100% of scientists say that they have proven something they are probably correct?
    Even the scientists who disagree with the darwinian process on the website linked to earlier (thethirdway) agree with the fact life evolved, just not about how.

    Concerning my torah knowledge, exactly what have I said that is incorrect. Just because you don't know the rambam, ramban and what kabala has to say about creation doesn't make me an am-haaretz. In fact one might say that it would make you one.

    Was R' SR Hirsch an amhaaretz when he stated that should evolution be proven it would not contradict the torah?
    What about various post-1800 kabalists such as the netziv. Would you also call them am haratzim for not seeing a contradiction between evolution and the torah? You must be a very very great man indeed.

    Did you read the Aryeh Kaplan Article that has been posted here twice? Go educate yourself. Unless you have the chutzpah to think he perhaps is also an am-haaretz...

  36. Any Kabbalistic account of multiple consecutive worlds, even if intended in an absolutely literal manner, has no relevance to the age of our world - as Rabbi Meiselman observes in his book.

  37. You seem to completely misunderstand how evolution works. There is no finished product that needs a purpose built system. Each stage could be a finished system in itself. You can't say 'the eye is a system'. There is no final eye. Each variation will make a slightly different kind of eye. What they have found is that they have animals with different stages of 'eye' - all of which work in their own different ways that show the stages of evolution.

    I fail to understand your point about random variations and random mutations. Why is it necessary to believe that there is a law behind variations. R' Hirsch makes the point that there would be no contradiction with the torah that we are all descended from apes.

    "Even if this notion were ever to gain complete acceptance by the scientific world, Jewish thought, unlike the reasoning of the high priest of that nation, would nonetheless never summon us to revere a still extant representative of this primal form ) as the supposed ancestor of us all. Rather, Judaism in that case would call upon its adherents to give even greater reverence than ever before to the one, sole God Who, in His boundless creative wisdom and eternal omnipotence, needed to bring into existence no more than one single, amorphous nucleus, and one single law of “adaptation and heredity” in order to bring forth, from what seemed chaos but was in fact a very definite order, the infinite variety of species we know today, each with its unique characteristics that sets it apart from all other creatures." (“The Educational Value of Judaism,” Collected Writings, vol. VII, p. 264)

  38. What is the point of imposing some artificial mechanism of modifying biological beings upon Hakadosh Boruch Hu? There is no use for such a theory and it only detracts from the awesome wonders found in nature. There is no other theory of Evolution that I am aware of and once you include Hashem, they are unnecessary.

    If you limit evolution to explaining the modification mechanisms of life forms in interacting with nature and as a further demonstration of the awesome wisdom inherent in life, then it might serve some purpose.

    Otherwise, as an explanation for the source of life or for the wonders of the entire biological landscape, it only serves to detract from the yofi of the olam that is mayid on Hashem and shows his beneficence.

  39. @Chaim - I head from both Rav Belsky and Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky that it is not heresy to believe in an old world because of these medrashim

  40. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 2, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    What is the point of imposing some artificial mechanism of modifying biological beings upon Hakadosh Boruch Hu? There is no use for such a theory and it only detracts from the awesome wonders found in nature.

    What is the point of imposeing some artificial mechanism of sustaining life upon Hakadosh Boruch Hu? Studying the working of the human neural and respiratory systems only, according to your logic, would diminish the awesome wonders found there.

    What is the point of imposing some artificial mechanism of healing upon Hakadosh Boruch Hu? Studying germ theory and how to heal or prevent viral and bacteriological diseases, would only diminish, according to your logic, the awesome wonder that is recovery from disease.

    Otherwise, as an explanation for the source of life
    Theory of Evolution and Theory of Biogenesis are two completely different things. The first has no inherent contradiction with Torah. The latter is pure speculation and heresy.

  41. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 2, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Any Kabbalistic or Midrashic account of multiple consecutive worlds, even if intended to be understood in an absolutely literal manner, has no relevance to the age of our world - as Rabbi Meiselman observes in his book.

    That is all well and good. No disrespect to Rabbi Meiselman, but I am going to stick with my own Rabbanim on this.
    I heard from Rav Ovadiah ZTzUK"L that they do have relevance to the age of our world.

  42. The viewpoint of the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim is that time itself was created, therefore we cannot state a specific time that the Universe was created. The Rambam's viewpoint implies that the current day "Chareidi" belief in a Universe created at a specific time (such as 5775 years ago) may be "heresy", because it implies belief in time before creation and the eternity of the Universe.

    "The first opinion is that of all who believe in the Torah (teaching) of Moshe Rabbeinu. It is that the entire world, that is everything which exists other than God, was brought by God into existence after absolute nothingness...The correct position, in accordance with our opinion, is that time was created ex nihilo along with all other objects and their accidental properties...Therefore God’s creation of the world did not take place at any specific time, for time itself is included in the creation. Reflect upon this deeply in order that you will not bring upon yourself counter arguments which you will not be able to answer. Any positing of time before creation requires belief in the eternity of the world...One must therefore free oneself from this viewpoint (i.e. that time existed before the creation)." (Moreh Nevuchim II:13)

  43. There are two points here:

    It is clear from the fossil evidence that in earlier eras life on earth was entirely different than it is today.

    Secondly, it's clear that whoever wrote the Torah did not believe that humans are descended from other animals.

    In my book, The Jewish Manifesto, available in paperback and Kindle on or free PDF on my blog Torah Philosophy, I explain this apparent contradiction.

  44. RMT > Studying the working of the human neural and respiratory systems only,
    according to your logic, would diminish the awesome wonders found there.

    You apparently missed my comment as follows

    If you limit evolution to explaining the modification mechanisms of life forms in interacting with nature and as a further demonstration of the awesome wisdom inherent in life, then it might serve some purpose.

  45. Rabbi Avigdor Miller was strongly against evolution as a theory explaining events in the world. Rabbi Shimon Schwab gave lectures about evolution but said it would not apply to human development.

    What is the need for evolution? What does it explain or predict?

  46. I asked ... Rav Yisroel Belsky

    Do you really trust his evaluations and judgments?

  47. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 3, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    The viewpoint of the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim is that time itself was created, therefore we cannot state a specific time that the Universe was created.

    Well the Moreh is a hashkafic text not a halakhic one, and hence is not binding.
    Though the blog owner has said a couple of times, that Rav Elyashiv has stated to the effect that the Moreh should be banned, because of its problematic ideas. You would have to ask Rav Eidensohn for the specifics of the quote.

    The Rambam's viewpoint implies that the current day "Chareidi" belief in a Universe created at a specific time (such as 5775 years ago) may be "heresy", because it implies belief in time before creation and the eternity of the Universe.

    Observation: We through around the word heresy way too easily these days(yes I know Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan made that observation in 1979 in his lecture on the subject). So long as a person believes that everything that is was created by HaShem, Yesh M'Ein, I don't see how we can call one view or another(especially if it is based on Torah sources) Heresy.

  48. @Nat unfortunately you are ignorant. If you really believe what you wrote have no business reading this blog. Please find a more productive use of your time

  49. I would agree with you that it is not heresy because of the Gedolim who accepted such a position to be acceptable (Rav Hirsch, Kook etc.) - but in terms of Pshat in the Medrash/Kabbalistic writings (in which I am admittedly no expert), it would seem לענ"ד that Rabbi Meiselman is correct. How can "previous worlds being created and destroyed" have any bearing on the age of our world - unless you are מדחיק that "worlds" just means "time periods", as in עולמו של יובל - but this seems a דוחק in terms of Chazal's terminology.

    Rabbi Meiselman also points out that the Kabbalistic account of these worlds, aside from having been rejected by Arizal and Ramak (as already noted by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan זצ"ל), bears little or no resemblance to the evolutionary history of the world endorsed by modern science - so if we feel forced by the scientific evidence to adopt a different view of Creation, the Kabbalistic record (rejected by the main Kabbalists) is not the way to go.

  50. When Torah contradicts science, we have to find a different pshat in Torah.

    So says the Ramban

  51. Where does he say this? It doesn't sound true at all. Most so called contradictions between Torah and science have been resolved in the Torah's favor.

  52. "Rav Elyashiv has stated to the effect that the Moreh should be banned" - Until there's solid evidence to verify this, I will take this as one more erroneous statement. Please provide a link to a reliable source that claimed Rav Elyashiv zt"l stated that the Moreh should be banned.

    Also please note which sefer is cited by the Remah in the very first halacha of Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim.

  53. Do me a favor. Instead of obfuscating, just answer me this question. Did Rav Moshe, Zatzal believe in evolution? Do Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Moshe Shternbuch? Does Rav Yisroel Belsky? Does Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky? I am not interested if they hold that you can't call someone an apikores for believing in evolution. Tell me what they personally hold. I think that we all know the answer to this. But I guess Mr. Eidensohn and David, who believe that everything that scientists say is the gospel are more enlightened than all of the above.

  54. I'm sorry, please enlighten me. Does it say somewhere in the Kabbalah or the Ramban or the Ramban that complex life forms evolved from "simple" life forms through genetic mutation? Does it say that anywhere that a dolphin evolved from a pig or any of the other evolutionary hogwash? Does it say anywhere that the eye, kidney, or brain evolved through a series of genetic mutations? And yes, there were sadly a few post 1800's gedolim that were overwhelmed by the advances that scientists had made in those days to the point that they were willing to accept anything that they said. And to prove that they were wrong, even the evolutionary theories that were accepted by any of those rabbis were later knocked down and remodified by the later scientists. It is possible for people to mak mistakes, even great rabbis. And the Netziv was not a kabbalist, or at least that was not his claim to fame, so I do not know why you refer to him as one.

  55. Yes, I need your help. Please copy exactly what Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan said about evolution and paste it into your next post so that I can read it. And while you are busy doing that, please find what the Netziv said about evolution and paste that in too. I would like to read where they say that they agree with Darwin that 1) life itself evolved from the inanimate 2) complex life forms evolved from "simple life forms", and 3) man evolved from animals. And Mr. Eidensohn, you are welcome to help out here as well.
    By the way, I put quotes around the words "simple life forms" because even the "simple" bacterium can perform chemical processes that, as of today, are not able to be replicated by modern technology. But if the scientists say that it evolved, we must believe it.

  56. And no, I am not ignorant. I actually have a real scientific degree, and not one in a soft science like psychology.

  57. @Nat I am not posting anymore of your comments until you start writing with elementary derech eretz.The zealous and fanatical tone of your posts - and your attempt to destroy your opponents - is not acceptable for this blog. we are discussing issues.

    I am happy to hear you have a real science degree. I also have one from RPI where I primarily studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics and had a few Psychology courses - which were experimental and biologically oriented. Psychology was not a soft science at RPI - contrary to your condescending comment.. Your obsession with labeling others with different approach as heretic or invovled in heresy is not acceptable on this blog.

    Contrary to your angry comments I have noted that your approach is the dominant one - but it is not the only legitimate one.

    When I wrote my sefer Daas Torah - which presents a range of legitimate views on a variety of hashkofa topics - Rav Bulman and others warned me that I would get in trouble since in the yeshiva world there is only one right way to think. One major Artscroll editor went so far as saying that I was a danger to Clall Yisroel.

    Rav Eliashiv told me otherwise - as did Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Noach Weinberg.

    Rav Eliashiv told me that as long as there were accepted authorities that supported the views and they were not some obscure view found only in the Cairo genisa - it was legitimate to publish them. And to the claim that presenting a ranger of views would just cause confusion - he said simply - but that is why they have a rebbe or rosh yeshiva to clarify these things.

    As long as a view has clear sources in traditional sources and is supported by gedolim - it is acceptable here - even if it is not the majority view..

    As Rav Belsky explained to me - talmidei chachomim today are often not familiar with scientific issues - even when relevant to halachic issues. Even the elementary acceptance of the heliocentric view is only about 150 years old and there are still a minority of talmidei chachom who refuse to accept it.

  58. You misunderstand. The rishonim and kabbala make it clear that the literal meaning of the pesukim is not what happened and that the universe could be older than 6000. Because of this there is no religious reason to think that evolution did not happen. Therefore your irrational tirades against evolution have nothing to do with protecting judaism and everything to do with an ignoramus mouthing off because he doesn't like the thought of something.

    To be clear: it is not the technical points of evolution that are relevant but that the greater idea does not go against the Torah.

    I'm very glad you feel that those poor misled gedolim made such huge mistakes. I'm sure you in your genius know much better than them. Why don't we throw away everything those poor brainwashed gedolim wrote and maybe start reading the stuff you come up with?

    You may not like the fact that animals evolved from one another but that is not a theory. It is a scientific fact. Like 2+2=4, the world is round... And if it makes you feel better the netiv thought so too (on the word 'min').

  59. The Ramban says that by the rainbow (Braishis 9:12)

    "We are forced to believe the words of the Greeks, that rainbows naturally result from the sun’s rays shining on moist air—because a rainbow-like image can be seen in a container of water placed in front of the sun."

    “This sign” implies that from the time of Creation rainbows had never before appeared in clouds, and now Hashem created a new phenomenon, making a rainbow in the sky on cloudy days, nevertheless, when we closely examine the terminology that appears farther on, we [see that we must] explain it in this way [that rainbows already appeared before the Flood]. For Hashem said, “Iplaced My rainbow in the cloud, and He did not say “I am placing [My rainbow] in the cloud. And the wording “My rainbow” [also] indicates that He had the rainbow before. Therefore, we explain the verses: “The rainbow that I had placed in the cloud from the day of the Creation, shall be, from this day on, a sign of a covenant.” But whether the rainbow was something that first came into existence now [not through natural causes, but miraculously], or had always been a natural phenomenon, the idea of the sign it contains is one and the same."

  60. Not sure what your understanding of hashgacha pratis is or why you think that the lack of hashgacha pratis means randomness and natural selection. It seems to me that hashgacha clalis is what one has when they do not have hashgacha pratis, and that does not at all sound like randomness (although perhaps natural selection could be one rule within hashgacha clalis). Either way, this is all a discussion in how HaShem looks over human affairs and says nothing about the process by which G-d created the world.

    The Torah says that the world was created for man and with man in mind. Random mutations plus natural selection is a process which need not have created man. That contradicts mamrei chazal. If you have other statements that show otherwise please note them -- but please, have them relate to the creation of life and man and to the mechanism.

  61. @Moshe your comments are cogent and raise important issues.

    Perhaps the major problem we are wrestling with is whether we are focused on the actual mechanism or process involved or whether we are focused on whether an explanation - is heresy - with little concern as to whether it is historically true or scientifically possible.

    As a psychologist I find it strange that the central issue of psychology i.e the mind or consciousness is simply not understood and many in the field think it is useless to try to understand it scientifically.

    I don't pretend to claim I understand creation - but I am concerned with the question what are the legitimate ways it can be talked about.

    The Kabbalistic view of change and development produces a different understanding of the world than a static literal 6 days of creation.

    If you want to be totally scientific and not do anything without a high degree of verified understanding than most human enterprises would have to be shut down. Econcomics, politics, military, etc etc provide rather imprecise understanding and poor predictions of human activities.

    At the end of a course in physiological psychology - where it was obvious we didn't understand how the basic senses of hearing, seeing etc worked and we were told that the brain is a major puzzle etc etc - I commmented to the professor that we really don't know too much about anything. His response was - if you want certainty go to religion. But after spending over 25 years trying to clearly describe religious knowledge about the world and ourselves - I can say that there are huge areas of uncertainty about the most fundamental religious concepts. The more we study the more we see how much we don't know.

    All these fields require some large dose of faith and belief.

    The question we are dealing with is what type of thoughts are legitimate from the religious point of view?

    Does many have free-will? What is the basis for a judicial system to decide guilt? Why do some people have greater power than others?

    Bottom line - all the ancient philosophical questions are sitll there - but we all need to have some basic concepts in order to function.

  62. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 5, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    TruthJew Rabbi Michael Tzadok • 8 hours ago

    "Rav Elyashiv has stated to the effect that the Moreh should be banned" - Until there's solid evidence to verify this, I will take this as an erroneous claim. Please provide a link to a reliable source that claimed Rav Elyashiv zt"l stated that the Moreh should be banned.

    Like I said, ask the Blog Owner. He is the one who has put the claim forth.

  63. That is all very nice, but you did not answer my question. I asked you what they themselves hold. I am not interested in whether or not the poskim say that you can't call someone a heretic for holding beliefs espoused by the minority. I understand that there are poskim who excuse these people and what they believe is between them and G-d. I specifically asked you: What did Rav Moshe Feinstein Zl"t and yblcht"a Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Yisroel Belsky hold about evolution. Do they believe in it or not. And what do you hold? And what does your brother hold. Please stick to the topic and answer this question. And I hope you did not find anything wrong with my comment and can handle a little bit of literary vitriol on your blog, as do all the secular blogs.

  64. @Nat I really am not concerned about Evolution- but rather the parameters of acceptable thought. It is clear to me that Evolution presents major problems as science but at the same time I don't know why the idea of evolution - i.e., species changing is unacceptable. I don't have a mechanism, but as I pointed out the mechanism of the mind and many other important issues in Science and theology also have big problems. .

    I personally think your question is irrelevant. Rav Moshe Feinstein was not familiar with science or philosophy or psychology etc etc. Nor did he have any interest in these subjects. I never discussed the issue with Rav Moshe Sharpiro. I talked to him about the issue of presenting a ranger of Torah views on topics - he had no porblem with it and told me to go ahead and publish my sefer. Rav Belsky is a more difficult case. I did talk to him about Rabbi Slifkin - for whom he gave a haskama which he told me even after the controversy he was not withdrawing. He told me that he felt that there were more conservative explanations that were more acceptable to him than what Rabbi Slifkin was proposing .

    The issue of evolution and science is largely of no concern to the present generation of gefolim and surely to the average chareidi Jew. And as Rav Belsky told me most talmidei chachom have no knowledge about science. As a matter of fact most of the present gedolim are not experts on hashkofa either. People such as Rav Moshe Shapiro are clearly exceptions.

    My brother can answer for himself if he wants.

    Again - there is no need to take out the machine guns when this topic can be addressed more calmly and respectfully.

    Regarding sticking to the topic - I have been. You have been trying to turn it into a litmus test of heresy and that was not my point.

  65. You really think you are going to convince anyone with this? 'Creationists' pet peeve is the eye and its complexity. However evolutionary biologists have investigated in depth and if you would care to open your mind and perhaps listen to an actual expert explain away your issues maybe you will get somewhere. Go and do some research that includes a real scientific journal.

    Your comments about R' Hirsch are just irrelevant so I will ignore them. He stated that the idea of an ancient universe with evolving creatures does not go against the Torah. Stop nitpicking about technical details that were never the issue.

  66. "we can still readily accept the possibility that G-d created ready fossils, bones or skeletons" - I am not a Chabadnik so I do not accept the Rebbe zt"l as the final say in all matters.

    I strongly doubt that any of the modern rabbinic philosophers (such as Rav Hirsch or Rav Kook) would accept such a claim. It implies that Hashem is attempting to deceive us.

    "Another approach is to assume that the Universe was created with its history as one of its elements...One problem with this approach is that it makes the Creator appear to have perpetrated a fraud..."There is no falsehood in the works of creation" (Tanna dBeiEliyahu Zuta 3)" (cited from Immortality, Resurrection, and the Age of the Universe by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan)

  67. Are you insinuating that God couldn't tweak things here and there to arrive at humanity? Remember there is no such thing as time to God. In theory He could be looking over all of history and simultaneously making all the necessary mutations over billions of years so that humans evolved.

    Also what is it that makes us human? It is the tzelem Elokim, our intelligence and speech. How do you know God wouldn't have made some other evolved creature into an intelligent being. Would the torah have been different if we would be furry with eyes on stalks?

    Your points about the technicalities of how evolution happens are irrelevant. Rav Kook and Rav Hirsch didn't spend decades investigating evolution. They weren't scientists. They understood the definition that animals evolved over long periods and it was this they said didn't contradict the Torah. It never occurred to them to claim that God was unable to arrive at humanity via one specific method which you are very clearly doing now. Please rethink your posts and avoid limiting God.

  68. What about facts of life. Science says that it is a fact that life evolved. (How it evolved could be termed as a theory but not that it did.)

  69. What evidence is there that life evolved? What if all the various strata and groups are discontinuous and disparate from each other? Putting the patchwork together and claiming some combining logic is full of holes and has very flimsy evidence of any continuity at all. The fact that many scientists make a lot of money over this fantasy means nothing.

  70. I think that microevolution - the ability of a species to adapt to external stimuli within certain limited parameters - has indeed been proven conclusively. It is part of the in-built design of species, just like the individual body is designed to adapt, i.e. you grow a scab if the skin is cut, or get calloused hands and feet if you do rough work with them or walk on rocks.

    I think that the Gemara in Shabbos 31a is referring to this mechanism (translation from the internet):

    The rabbi threw a mantle over his shoulders and went out to meet him. "What desirest thou, my son?" he asked. "I have a question to ask," the man replied. "Ask, my son, ask," said the rabbi. "Why are the Babylonians round-headed?" asked the man. "This is an important question, my son. The reason is that they have no skilled midwives in Babylon," answered Hillel. An hour later the man came again calling: "Who is Hillel here? Who is Hillel here?" The rabbi came out again and said: "What desirest thou, my son?" "I have a question to ask," the man said. "Ask, my son, ask," said Hillel. "Why have the Tarmudites oval eyes?" "This is a very important question, my son. (The Tarmudites) live in a sandy land and must always keep their eyes half closed." An hour later the man came again in his insolent manner, and said again that he had a question to ask. Hillel in his quiet manner again encouraged him. "Why do the Africans have large feet?" he asked. "Because they live in a swampy land," answered Hillel.

  71. I only think I will be able to convince people who are willing to take the time to understand and relate to what I write. Nothing that you have written nor the video you referenced relates at all to what I said.

    Finally, I am only willing to continue conversing with you on this subject if you are able to conduct the conversation in a mature, respectful and intellectual manner.

  72. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 6, 2014 at 4:28 AM

    Sorry Chaim, but the Slifkin ban is an entirely different matter. Rav Ovadia didn't simply rely on the testimony of a single individual but had several people who read English read the books to tell him what was in them.

    The problem wasn't so much what Slifkin said as it was how he said it. His words came across not as a support for a minority opinion, but rather as an attack on Chazal.

    I wouldn't expect Rav Ovadiah ZTzUK"L to write anything else to be honest. He holds the classic Sephardi/Kabbalistic view that these statements in Chazal are allegories used to teach us deeper lessons. The Earth isn't flat and the sky isn't a sheet which the son pops behind at night.

    Now Slifkin would tell us that Chazal were simply going by the faulty science of the day that, as "everyone" knows said the earth was flat, and so (Chas V'Shalom) Chazal were wrong and that statement is faulty and we can learn nothing from it.

    The problem is that the Greeks(those folks who Chazal were supposedly relying on for their science) had been saying since around 500 BCE that the Earth was round, and had estimated its circumference to within 66Km in the third century BCE.

    It would take a lot more than a blog comment to fully get into why Slifkin was banned, but it had a lot less to do with the science he put forth as truth and a lot more to do with the derogatory way in which he simply dismissed Chazal out of hand.

  73. There is no absolute point of reference between two bodies and their relative movements. The earth involving around the sun provides a much simpler mathematical model to explain the entire cosmos and their interactions. The sun revolving around the earth is mathematically tenable but necessitates very complicated mathematical models which also lead to bodies and other serious problems.

  74. Is Gd limited that he can't operate behind, within and through apparently random events? Do you see that as a contradiction to constant creation and hashgach pratis? See last Ramban on Parshath Bo.

    Your view is similar to that of Einstein who rejected quantum mechanics which is the basis of today's physics and technology.

    Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the "old one." I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.

    Letter to Max Born (4 December 1926); The Born-Einstein Letters (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971) ISBN 0-8027-0326-7.

    Einstein himself used variants of this quote at other times. For example, in a 1943 conversation with William Hermanns recorded in Hermanns' book Einstein and the Poet, Einstein said: "As I have said so many times, God doesn't play dice with the world." (p. 58).

  75. Have you heard of dna? Read this:

    You are crazy if you think that thousands of scientists over a century have been part of a great conspiracy because of money. How many rich biologists do you know!

  76. Not at all. Science doesn't need God to have directly caused any of the mutations. You need Him to have in order to settle religious issues. Maybe He did, maybe He didn't. The fact is life would have anyway evolved through the system God created but if you need an end-goal to make it compatible with the Torah then you can believe that God tweaked things now and again. In fact this fits with standard Jewish hashkafa, God created the world to run and he only intercedes on behalf of tzadikim or all klal yisrael. The world 'by itself' is entirely 'self reliant'.

    I'm sorry to say but your claims that the Torah would be different if we were does not hold water. If we had eyes on stalks, three legs, nails instead of teeth and a tail it would not make any difference as long as we had intelligence which is God given to differentiate us from animals. And even if it were, are you saying that God who is above time wouldn't have been able to see what type of creature He would make into 'man' and retroactively made the Torah for his specific physical needs?

    In some cases avoidance is the only path as your argument makes absolutely no sense and is therefore irrelevant. They said what they said concerning a general scientific idea about life evolving and no amount of wrangling is going to change that.

  77. You honestly think that a ball of gas and a ball of rock vomiting up a human should be compared to the darwinian theory of evolution? A hundred years of science including dna evidence and physical evidence that you can actually see by visiting species of animals that differ in tiny practical ways based on need.

    I get the feeling that you think thousands of scientists are just idiots for believing in this daft 'evolution' idea. It is so obvious to you that it makes no sense how can these intelligent people be taken in by it. You have such hubris.
    Why don't you visit a university with an open mind and ask a professor there to explain why he believes in it.

  78. One more point...

    The Rambam in the Moreh Nevuchim states that it is not possible to reconcile the Torah with the view of Aristotle vis-a-vis the creation of the world for his (Aristotle's) position denies the possibility of miracles. In other words, while it may be possible to read his view into the text of the Chumash, the hashkafic ramifications of his view prevent us from doing so.

    I would say the same thing vis-a-vis the mechanism of random mutations plus natural selection -- regardless of whether or not we can rectify it textually, the position denies G-d as the purposeful creator of life and man, a position which is untenable hashkafically.

  79. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    The fact is life would have anyway evolved through the system God created but if you need an end-goal to make it compatible with the Torah then you can believe that God tweaked things now and again.
    To prove that you have to first recreate biogenesis and secondly find yourself an enviroment devoid of G-d's influence.
    Science as yet has not able to make all the right chemicals form DNA, RNA or anything else without outside intervention.

    In fact this fits with standard Jewish hashkafa, God created the world to run and he only intercedes on behalf of tzadikim or all klal yisrael. The world 'by itself' is entirely 'self reliant'.
    That is not "standard Jewish hashkafa" it is a hashkafa which about half the Litvak world ascribes to. However, Chassidim, and most Sephardim hold in absolute Hashgacha Pratit. A grain of sand doesn't shift on the seashore unless HaShem wills it.

    So to state absolutely the system as you have described it you would also have to prove absolutely that at least half the Jewish world is wrong regarding their view of Hashgacha pratit.

  80. Evolution is still a theory, it is not proven science, but there is more and more scientific evidence which supports the theory (which itself is evolving and adapting all the time).
    There is hard evidence of creatures that lived a very long time ago, .eg.. dinosaurs and other humanoids. These bones (etzem) are "facts" just like the Hebrew word suggests.
    Climate change can mess up all sorts of measures. i read yesterday that melting ice in antartica is changing the gravitational field of the earth (very minimally). So a cataclysmic event like the Flood can also change things as well, and most certainly did.
    There are actually stories of monsters in the Tenach and midrashim. These could be prehistoric animals.

  81. What are you talking about. The rambam does not discard the theory that the world is eternal because of hashkafa! he goes through multiple philosophical and rational reasons in great detail. He only concludes with ex nihilo because he thinks it is more logical. Otherwise he would have had no problem in fitting the eternity theory to the Torah. I find it ironic that of all people you try to bring the ultra rationalist rambam in defence of your claims.

    Besides, as I have already explained the only way you can say evolution denies God as still being the purposeful creator is by limiting Him to not being able to know what will eventually evolve or being able to direct mutations when He requires it.

  82. The Rishonim make it clear. . .Actually David, I was wondering if you would be able to tell me what Morenu Verabenu Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi) holds regarding this matter. I think that Rashi was a Rishon and a great kabbalist. Are you aware of his opinion in the matter of the age of the Universe, because he does make it explicitly clear. And your problem, by the way, is that you take a few obscure opinions that may show that it was possible for the physical world to be old and somehow automatically derive from that that evolution must have occurred, just because there were millions and millions of years, when there is no responsible Torah authority who actually agrees with the ridiculous theory of evolution.

  83. I am just wondering what your scientific credentials are that you claim that animals having evolved from one another is a scientific fact. Wikipedia and Google? Please let us know. But I think that I have already given you enough homework which you have yet to finish.

  84. Sorry I wasn't clear. I was talking relative to what Moshe was claiming; that God tweaking evolution doesn't mean it also couldn't achieve things by itself so the scientific process is sound. In fact they have multiple, even relatively recent, examples of evolution such as an island where the entire population of birds' beaks evolved to a much large size after a drout because the only food required a much larger beak.

    Both the ramban and rambam hold with a natural system that God let's run. As does derech Hashem. What source says otherwise?

  85. WE do not reject the Eternity of the Universe, because certain passages in Scripture confirm the Creation; for such passages are not more numerous than those in which God is represented as a corporeal being; nor is it impossible or difficult to find for them a suitable interpretation…

    …If we were to accept the Eternity of the Universe as taught by Aristotle, that everything in the Universe is the result of fixed laws, that Nature does not change, and that there is nothing supernatural, we should necessarily be in opposition to the foundation of our religion, we should disbelieve all miracles and signs, and certainly reject all hopes and fears derived from Scripture, unless the miracles are also explained figuratively…

  86. I think it would be helpful if we had some idea of how randomness works in evolutionary theory. As such, I offer an example of one of the main ways that mutations occur in evolutionary theory.

    Imagine step-by-step written instructions on how to build make a simple rock hand axe. The instructions will tell you how to use one rock and bang it against another rock to create a sharp edge.

    The important point to note in this example is that the instructions are written down.

    Now let’s copy those instructions, being as careful as we can to accurately copy the instructions exactly as they are written. We do this by a) accurately reading and copying the the original instructions, b) proofreading our copy as we go along and c) checking over the entire document once we have finished copying it.

    So far so good.

    Now, let’s imagine that our instructions for how to make a hand axe become very popular and everyone wants a copy of it. So, what do we do? We copy it again and again and again, each time following the above procedure.

    However, we are only human and once in a while we misread a word or let and copy it incorrectly. But no worries, we are proofreading as we go along and so we catch it and correct it.

    Nonetheless, it also happens that once in a while we make a mistake and don’t catch it as we are going along. But no worries, we proofread the whole thing when we are done.

    But still, every now and then we make a mistake, don’t catch it as we are going along and don’t note it either when we do the final check of the whole document.

    At this point a mutation has made its way into the new document. Now, usually it makes the instructions worse and those copies with a mistake don’t sell as well at the store. However (according to the theory of evolution), every now and then a mistake is made and makes it through all the proofreading that actually improves the instructions for making an axe and it sells better.

    This process, we are told, repeats until eventually we end up with step-by-step instructions for making power drills, high-end computers, robots, operating systems, jet planes, space stations, iPhones, search engines, submarines, power stations, sky scrapers, combines and all the other technological devices that make up our modern world.

    This, in a nut-shell, is the theory of evolution. DNA are coded instructions for making proteins and also (according to the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution) contain all the instructions needed to create a living organism from a single, fertilized cell (it turns out that this is not true, DNA is not the whole story, but let’s leave that aside for now).

    And, we are told, that random copying errors of those instructions which make it through the various proofreading mechanisms of the cell and which are beneficial account for all the design we see in the natural world. Wings, hearts, lungs, brains, hands, legs, fins, tails, nervous systems, skeletons, eyes, ears, and more are all the result of the cumulative effect of random copying errors plus natural selection.

    You simply cannot find a theory that removes G-d from creation more than this. Every single instruction (except, perhaps, the very first set of instructions) is said to result from random mistakes that the cell is trying not and works to correct when it does make it. Even the filtering system of natural selection is not directed, it is all about the surviving in the here and now and is not in any way directed towards creating anything.

    In short, there is no hint of design, purpose or direction in the system.

  87. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is certainly interesting and while I do not understand it as well as I understand the cell, I think it’s reasonable to say that the uncertainty of quantum physics is nothing like the random copying errors we are talking about in the theory of evolution. In Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle the idea of a totally deterministic universe was undermined – one simply cannot know everything that will be in the future by knowing the position and action of every atom at any particular moment. One can know position or velocity – not both.

    So the future is not determined.

    But this uncertainty is not random mistakes, it’s not errors that the atom is trying to weed out. It’s not instructions that are being misread. What is it? I have no idea, but I think it's a totally different kettle of fish.

  88. Moshe@MoreThinking raised an excellent point below that I'd like to expand on.

    The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim II:25 explains that belief in Aristotle's eternal universe, (ie a universe that exists of necessity, and where nature never changes), refutes the Law in its principle and denies every miracle.

    The Rambam is saying that Aristo's eternal universe is a universe governed by "scientific determinism", and no Torah, miracles, or hashgacha pratis is possible in such a Universe.

    Clearly the goal of the evolutionists and their fellow travelers (ie the atheist believers in an eternal Multiverse), is to define universe(s) resembling Aristo's universe, ie universe(s) governed solely by scientific determinism with no Torah, revelation or miracles possible.

  89. Why is it so difficult to believe that God designed this system that works so amazingly that it can form complex beings. Or that God caused some of the mutations that were then naturally selected. I assume you have no problem with an hashgacha protis story about someone missing a meal where everyone else got food poisoning but to say that a string of DNA mutated so that a beak got larger so a bird can adept is too much for God? Or that God can create humans from dust but can't come up with the evolutionary system? What are you trying to prove?
    Your previous argument that God couldn't have made the evolutionary system because He wouldn't have been able to control it is just ridiculous.

    You seem to have an obsession and I think you need to take a step back.

  90. I was wrong and did not note the second reason he gives concerning how it would make miracles impossible. The first reason states that we don't follow it because the eternity theory has not been demonstrated (proven logically). Interestingly he continues by saying that we could follow the eternity theory of Plato which does not make miricles impossible if eternity could be proven. This is a perfect example why we should have no problem agreeing with evolution. As was notes by many gedolim the theory in no way causes problems on a hashkafic level.

    Imagine if tomorrow scientists prove Plato's theory that the universe is eternal. Would you use this rambam to help show Jews that we should believe in it!

  91. I'm not going to prove evolution to you. Watch this and tell me what you think:

  92. It is not relevant what their goal is. The problem the rambam had with aristotle was his philosophy that God does not change and therefore can't interact with nature to make miracles (in short). There is no such deep philosophical issue about the nature of God here. You just cannot compare the two.

    In fact this section of more nevuchim supports jewish belief in evolution as the rambam clearly states that would plato's version of the eternity of the world have been shown to be more logical (demonstrated) we would interpret the Torah figuratively in order to accommodate it. There is no need to go crazy denying science because it doesn't fit in the literal text of the Torah.

  93. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 6, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Clearly the goal of the evolutionists and their fellow travelers (ie the
    atheist believers in an eternal Multiverse), is to define universe(s)
    resembling Aristo's universe, ie universe(s) governed solely by
    scientific determinism with no Torah, revelation or miracles possible.

    Clearly ShekerJew is exercising his navua again, in which he knows the hearts, minds and motivations of the vast arrays of scientists, both those of deep personal faith and those outside of deep personal faith.

    Once again, evolutionary theory does not, by nature disrupt Torah. Science, can only ever measure quantifiable mechanics. HKB"H by nature exists outside of all that is quantifiable. So for a person of faith, if evolution were to be proven to be true beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, it shouldn't disturb someone of a well ordered mind. They should simply look at it and say, "Oh nice science has discovered the physical mechanics that HKB"H employed."

    I was there when someone presented Rav Kaduri with a sheaf of papers on Multiverse theory. He looked it over for a couple of minutes, tossed it on the table, shrugged, and said, "Nice. Science is finally starting to awaken to the reality of the worlds and the sephirot."
    Multiverse or Evolution, neither by necessity exclude HKB"H

  94. Eddie - you have finally written a comment which doesn't make me want to argue with you! What is going on?

  95. Let's see if we can discuss just one point and let's see if we can make sure that we understand each other points so that it is a real conversation.

    According to the theory of evolution, mutations acting on their own (without any guidance or direction) can produce the novel structures that natural selection then acts upon. I take that to mean that G-d does not cause the mutations -- they happen naturally, on their own. Indeed, to say that G-d causes them is to rob the theory of its scientific standard.

    Please let me know what about that statement you disagree with.

    Be well,


  96. I peeked at this video. Take a look at this much shorted debunking of Evolution by a scientist

  97. I asked a doctor why he believes in random evolution since the chances of it having happened are so ridiculously negligible. He replied that since there is no other way that life could have formed, we must say that this incredibly unlikely event took place. People's religious views affect their scientific positions.

  98. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 7, 2014 at 3:41 AM

    According to the theory of evolution, mutations acting on their own (without any guidance or direction) can produce the novel structures that natural selection then acts upon.

    Science does not, by nature, involve itself with esoteric causation or guidance. It only deals with that which may be quantified and readily and repeatably observed.

    I take that to mean that G-d does not cause the mutations -- they happen naturally, on their own. Indeed, to say that G-d causes them is to rob the theory of its scientific standard.
    But that is your own interpretation of the neutral observations made by science. Like I said before if we apply your logic to any scientific field, whether it be medicine, astrophysics ect... you are going to find them at odds with G-d. Simply because, by nature G-d cannot be quantified, observed or measured.

    Where then is your outrage at those who study infectious disease? Where is your outrage at those who study human brain function?

  99. There are really only 2 problems to saying the Earth is the center and the rest revolve around it.

    One is the motion of planets which seems to be more easily explained with a solar centric solar system since the orbits of the planets fit a simple gravitational model of an elliptical orbit. The mathematics of assuming the Earth at the center would be more complicated but there are problems with the current model also and this can be overcome.

    The more formidable problem is the motion of the stars around the Earth at night and the distance that they cover would imply that they are moving much faster than the speed of light which is a violation of the Theory of Relativity. However, this question was posed to a Relativity Physics expert who indicated this would not be a problem within the current understanding of the theory of Relativity.

  100. Thank you, Eddie! Shana tova to you.

  101. So this is IT? This is cause to throw away intelligent design? Because a whale has appendages? Are you really serious? These are nothing more than the old "proofs" which have been around for a hundred years and which are absolutely worthless. I feel really bad for you, David, that you were not given a proper, meaningful Torah upbringing and feel the need to throw away thousands of years of tradition on the basis of this absolute hogwash. There is nothing that this person said that means anything. I am saying this in the most polite way possible, but you are a person who has no scientific background, and is so eager to break with the traditions of your religion that you eagerly and mindlessly lap up everything that people like this have to say and give no real honest thought to what is the real truth. If you are really interested in hearing a cogent explanation of all of this person's "proofs," and of our approach to science and these matters in general, I suggest that you listen to a series of lectures by Rabbi Aharon Lopiansky, Shlita, regarding the theory evolution that can be found on the website and that can be downloaded free of charge. I will tell you clearly as a scientist that there is nothing that this person said that cannot be easily answered and there is nothing that should dispel our belief in a creator and in intelligent design. Moreover, there are thousands upon thousands of examples of intricate and complicated intelligent design which cannot be reasonably explained by the theory of evolution and the like.

  102. Eddie,

    Nothing you wrote her supports "there is more and more scientific evidence which supports the theory"

    Dinosaurs disappearing isn't evolution. You haven't demonstrated how the Flood advanced evolution nor how climate change might.

    I don't know what evidence of 'humanoids' you are referring to. Again, their disappearance as with the dinosaurs might show natural selection, but not in a progressive, evolutionary way.

    You also wrote "(which itself is evolving and adapting all the time)". At what point might its evolution make it a new theory? What happens to the relevance of the discussion surrounding 'evolution' if its definition isn't static? Every argumentative point will have to be correlated to the correct stage of the theory's 'evolution' or become irrelevant.

  103. When discussing evolution and its proofs, let us not forget about devolution. As the gemara in Sanhedrin 107b onward discusses, a punishment meted out for the Tower of Babel was that they were demoted/devolved into monkeys. In other words, the connection exists, but not in the direction evolutionists claim nor through natural selection but rather through Divine intervention.
    It is thus interesting to note how the man-monkey connection is a direct result and expression of rebellion against Gd.

  104. Thank you for your comments db - the post was not an essay on evolution, just some brief comments.
    Dinosaurs disappearing is not evolution, but evidence of their one time existence is strong. There are orthodox obscurantists who claim these never existed, but their views are not credible.
    By humanoids I mean neanderthals and earlier species who evolutionists claim were part of the development of man.
    Climate change, may contribute to evolution or extinction, but my argument is that it changes the geochemistry and physics of the earth, and hence things like radiocarbon dating may not be as accurate as is claimed, when talking of many years ago. On the other hand, they claim humans have been around for 40,000 years, so this is in conflict with the view of 6000 years.
    We do not know what the 7 days of creation were, were they ordinary 24 hour days or something much greater?

  105. guys, is it Shemini Atzeret which is the last (kabbalistic) time for teshuva post Yom kipur?

  106. A proper, meaningful Torah upbringing doesn't care if evolution is or isn't true.

  107. Eddie,

    Hashem could have created previous worlds on planet earth (as Tiferes Yisrael writes), he could have left the fossils as a test, etc. Dinosaurs and Neanderthals existence (at least as fossils) is given. No missing links pointing to evolution have ever been found. They are therefore irrelevant to the evolution discussion.

    Carbon-14 dating is questionable. As the Lubavetcher Rebbe ztk"l wrote, the dating is based on extrapolation from its observed behavior over maybe 100 years to millions. Its progression could easily have been different at different stages.

    There are other questions about it as well. For instance, grass at the side of a highway could date millions of years old due to the absorbed residue from the exhaust of all the cars passing by.

    Creation days are unknown, especially as the sun and stars weren't created until the 4th day. What's the reference point until them? At what rate was the earth revolving until then?

    See also:

  108. Actually, there was a concerted effort by biologists in the late 19th and early 20th century to actively remove G-d from the process of the creation and development of life.

    See, for instance, this quote by James Shapiro in his book Evolution: A Look from the 21st Century:

    "[Darwin's] followers...declar[ed] all genetic change to be accidental and random. With the discovery of DNA...the accidental view of change received a molecular interpretation as arising from inevitable errors in the replication process. As many professional and popular press articles attest, the accidental, stochastic nature of mutations is still the prevailing and widely accepted wisdom on the subject.

    In the context of earlier ideological debates about evolution, this insistence on randomness and accident is not surprising. It springs from a determination in the 19th and 20th Centuries by biologists to reject the role of a supernatural agent in religious accounts of how diverse living organisms originated.

    The multiverse developed differently -- but its appeal to many atheists is that they believe that it removes the implications of a Divine Creator from the fine tuned laws of physics. It may not do that, but that is its appeal for them.

  109. Rabbi,

    Please follow the very specific point I made. Let's imagine that G-d created the first cell knowing full well that it will mutate in the manner that I described above. After that, G-d just sits back (so to speak) and lets the mutations take their course.

    With this system, what connects G-d to the outcome that eventually come to be?

  110. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 7, 2014 at 7:24 PM


  111. Are you serious? Almost every normal, rational believing religious Jew believes that all species were created by G-d as they exist today, and this is the basic non-convoluted understanding according to the Torah and the Talmud and the Rishonim and you say that a proper, meaningful Torah upbringing doesn't care??? Please name me one normal, mainstream non-modern Orthodox Torah authority who personally believes in evolution. Please go to any mainstream Torah authority and tell him that you believe in evolution and ask him what he thinks about that.

  112. I will explain to you one reason why it makes a difference. If someone does something for you, it is proper to recognize what that person has done for you. This is a basic principle known as Hakarat Hatov. If you went out of your way to do a great favor for someone, you would be very hurt and upset if the person denied that you did anything or minimized what you did in the slightest. This world, including atomic and nuclear structures, the science of molecular interactions, cells, cellular metabolism, our DNA, etc, etc, etc, were all created by G-d with infinite wisdom. For you to then turn around to G-d and say, "what did you do for me, really?" And that all of this occurred through a series of random genetic mutations is the height of kefiyas tov and is the antithesis to a proper, meaningful Torah education.

  113. Whoever wrote the Torah? You mean G-d? I sure hope so. . .

  114. The Lubavicher Rebbe also possessed a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Sorbonne, which you do not. The Lubavicher Rebbe also was a genius, which you are not. Anyone with a PhD in astrophysics will tell you that there is nothing wrong whatsoever with looking at the sun as revolving around the earth, as it says in the Torah and the Rambam.

  115. Moshe, keep challenging the mekubal here and your comments will get blocked (like some of mine are), or better yet, you'll win the title of "Sheker Jew Sr." on this blog!

  116. @db you do not understand carbon dating.

    It shouldn't make a difference where the grass is located. Grass at the side of the road would not date as being millions of years old.

    Your other points of what HaShem could have done - doesn't invalidate views that don't accept the Christian view that G-d created the world in order to deceive man.

  117. @ TruthJew - if you acted with Moshe's derech eretz your comments would also not be rejected. Try writing without ad hominem attacks

  118. Seems like the derech eretz rules never seem to apply to the "mekubal" here.

  119. You are basically saying that there is no such thing as divine providence. Nature also acts on 'its own' but we as Jews still believe that God can tweak things for various specific reasons. Of course it is much more complicated depending on whether you follow the rambam or ramban (or someone else) but in general they all agree that there is the natural system that works (as if) by itself, randomly but God is still in charge.
    Evolution fits right in with the rest of nature; a system that works (as if) randomly but God is really still all over it.

  120. I understand what you are saying. With evolution God is unnecessary.
    But then with nature He is also unnecessary. Think about it.
    According to the ramban, everything is technically a miracle but for the most part they conform to the rules (cause and effect) of nature. According to the rambam the rules of nature were fixed and sometimes God intercedes. Either way, what connects God to a certain result or moment in history. There were huge gaps during which the world ran on auto pilot! What connects God to say, the giving of the Torah through moshe? That fact that moshe was born to receive it is the result of generations of people from adam to amram living their lives in the natural world following the natural order. If one ancestor would have had an argument with his wife one night maybe the line would be completely different! One different random mutation and...

    Do you see what I am trying to say? This is all really an issue of divine providence. What connects God to anything when there is nature, free will, chance...
    The issue you have is not one with evolution.

  121. You make me laugh.
    "old proofs". Pythagoras proved a2+b2=c2 over two thousand years ago. The age of a proof doesn't mean the proof is bad, it means the people who still won't listen have their head in the sand.
    "People like this". Scientists. All the scientists. Thousands of people who spend their lives studying in order to find truths.

    And then we have you. Even though clearly the possibility that life may have evolved does not go against the torah, according to multiple gedolim, as has been confirmed by the author of this blog, you continue on a religious crusade insisting that you know best and all other opinions must be wrong. Every religious jew is brought up knowing that there are hidden meanings to the Torah, kabalistic truths that we are not party to yet even though you, me and most people alive today have no idea what they are you insist that you still know the ultimate truth.

    What traditions of my religion are you referring to? The fact that the rambam says beraishis is not to be taken literally? That if plato's view of the eternal universe could be rationally argued there would be no problem of believing in it according to the torah! That the ramban says that through all of creation only on speck was ever actually created. That kabalists know of previous worlds whatever that mean. That the rishonim discuss how even in beraishis itself there are two versions of creation. That there are gedolim who in black and white say that evolution doesn't contradict the Torah. That the gemara admits that rabbis can be wrong when it comes to science.
    I don't know what closed minded religion you belong to but these are my traditions.

    I have no intention of listening to a rabbi go on about what he knows nothing about. Do you know why? Because as far as I am concerned there is no conflict between the Torah and science and i therefore have no need to listen to a rabbi bash science as if my religion depends on breaking it. Because it doesn't.

  122. fact of life: there is no need to disregard that life evolved on religious grounds so i will follow the scientific consensus whilst you follow that lone (non scientific) voice.

  123. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 8, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    The Lubavicher Rebbe also possessed a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Sorbonne, which you do not.

    No he didn't. Every independent biography of him has said that simply was not true, but was a an... exaggeration made by his followers.

    Anyone with a PhD in astrophysics will tell you that there is nothing wrong whatsoever with looking at the sun as revolving around the earth, as it says in the Torah and the Rambam.

    Rav Ovadia ZTzUK"L, and my own Rosh Yeshiva say that it is kefira to ascribe such silliness to the Torah.

    As far as PhD in astrophysics, yeah I know a few... My roommate in Uni went on to get his PhD in astrophysics and is a completely frum Jew. He very strongly feels that the Rebbe was mistaken.

  124. Rabbi Michael TzadokOctober 8, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    Teshuvah Meahavah 1:134; Zecher Yehosaf, OC 104; Shu”t Vela’asher Amar 15

    Sir I call you that, because you repeatedly have lied about what I have said, and what I have or have not posted. When those lies are pointed out you have refused to retract or apologize.

  125. I don't work by consensus when scientific logic proves that the theory is a total fiction. There is a huge society of highly trained scientists that don't believe in unfettered evolution. The evolution hard liners are the ones that are blind to evidence and won't accept the possibility of divine involvement.

    I see no need for evolutionary theory but it might be possible under G-d's direction.

    You are correct in saying you don't have to disbelieve it on religious grounds.

  126. 1. If you can't understand the difference between Pythagorus's theorem and "proofs of evolution" you need to have your head examined.

    2. Since you have trouble understanding, when I say "old proofs," I mean 1) that these proofs have long since been thoroughly debunked and 2) that these were the proofs given when scientific knowledge was still relatively primitive and it may have been possible for someone to believe, using a wild stretch of the imagination, that living things could have evolved. The complexity of any organism as understood by today's scientists totally removes any possibility of any contemplation of evolution through genetic mutation, even with the wildest imagination.
    3. Are you aware that most scientists not only believe in evolution, but they are also irreligious. If they spend their lives searching for the truth, how come they have not found G-d?
    4. I am still waiting for you to give me your list of rabbis who believe in evolution, as well as something from Aryeh Kaplan where he says that he believes in evolution.

    5. I am still waiting to hear about your scientific credentials. So far, you can not even tell the difference between the Pythagorean theorem and the theory of evolution. The truth is that I can tell that you do not have any. It is easy to tell when someone is getting all of his information from Google and Wikipedia.

    6. The Rabbi who I referenced, since you have obviously not heard of him due to your ignorance, knows more about science and worldly matters than most people. That brings me to wonder if you are even an Orthodox Jew, or just a formerly religious Jew who has somehow found this blog. Because that would explain a lot.
    7. I had the courtesy to spend the time listening to the person who you referenced in your post. It would be nice if you had the same courtesy.

    8. Since you are unaware, the entire stated goal of the early evolutionists was to present an alternate explanation for the origin of life that excluded G-d.
    9. I was also waiting to see if you were able to find that Rashi.

    10. Obviously Rabbis can be wrong. Otherwise you would never have two rabbis arguing. Obviously one is right and one is wrong. The point is that the Torah is never wrong. And the Gemara is part of the Torah. Therefore if the Gemara says something that you do not comprehend, it has to be understood, not dismissed.

  127. To David,

    Due to the time restraints of erev yom tov I can only skim comments and offer a brief reply. My one point is that with 'regular' laws of nature, the end result is built into the system -- that is not the case with the mechanism of evolution.

    Have to go -- have a chag sameach.

    All the best,


  128. Daas Torah, notice any contradiction here?

    Tzadok: "Sir I call you that (ie Sheker Jew Sr.)"

    Daas Torah: "Try writing without ad hominem attacks"

  129. @T Jew - self defense is allowed Stop your "righteous" attacks and that will solve your problem.

  130. @ Nat "Anyone with a PhD in astrophysics will tell you that there is nothing
    wrong whatsoever with looking at the sun as revolving around the earth,
    as it says in the Torah and the Rambam."

    That is a fallacious claim, as are most Yeshiva claims about science. There may be the odd drop out who did a Phd in maths then went to BT yeshiva, and is then purported to hold a PhD in Physics.
    Prof Nathan Aviezer, who is a real physicist, does not accept the Rebbe's claim, and totally trashes it. Aviezer is frum.

  131. He used to sign his name followed by "The Engineer." And since I do not care to repeat myself, please see my reply to Eddie's reply.

  132. Nat,
    the link you supplied is very interesting, but they are not saying what you think they are saying.
    Aslo, they are just 3 guys, not every PhD astrophysicists. they have a Hiddush. They are not "gedolim" in the world of physics.
    What they are saying is the location of the earth may be somewhere int he middle of the universe we know. They are not saying that the sun revolves around the earth. These are 2 different concepts. The Copernical principle he mentions is that earth does not occupy any particularly relevant place in the universe. They are not discussing the sun and which revolves around which.

  133. First of all, they are physicists from Oxford. And they have no problem rethinking the Copernican Principle if they have to. And yes, all Copernicus was "mechadeish" was that the planets, including the Earth, revolve around the sun, and not the Sun and the planets around the Earth. But the extension of his "chiddush," which is termed here "the Copernican Principle" is that the Earth is not at all at the center of the Universe, but rather rotates around the Milky Way Galaxy, which is also not the center of the Universe. By the way, it is much more scientifically difficult to propose that the earth is near the center of the universe than it is to propose that the earth is at the center of the solar system. So if you understand that they would be able to accept the earth being at the center of the Universe, then you should surely understand it would be no problem whatsoever for them to accept the earth being at the center of the solar system.

  134. I will call your bluff. Please send me links to the huge amount of scientific articles published by this huge society stating that believe that life did not evolve.

  135. 1) Me and the rest of the scientific world.
    2) You are trying to use an understanding of the complexity of organisms to disprove what the experts in the field believe? Fail.
    3) irrelevant
    4) They don't say it is neged hatorah. As has been confirmed by this blog.
    5) coming from the guy who thinks he is smarter than the scientific consensus. Laughable.
    6) does he.
    7) if he is an expert in evolution i will listen to him discuss it. Until then what he says is not relevant.
    8) do you know anything about darwin?obviously not
    9)sorry. which rashi?
    10) maybe you are the one who can't comprehend it...

    don't bother replying.

  136. In the meantime, bring me even a small subset of your so called experts that can respond to the problems that I raised in the main elements of the theory.


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