Orthodox Jewish Rabbis and the Subject of Evolution
Brit-Am is interested in Creationism versus Evolution mainly in so far as it affects DNA findings. DNA researchers assume that Evolution is correct and that the Earth and all that is in it, including humanity, existed for millions of years. They therefore present their findings in a framework that warps historical reality.
We understand that Mankind has existed for not more than 6000 years and all DNA findings need to fit within that framework. This will be discussed in a series of articles.
Meanwhile what attitude do we take towards Evolution versus Creationism in general?
Biblical Chronology indicates that God completed the creation of the world close to 6,000 years ago, in 3760 BCE. This age is reflected in the chronology developed in a midrash, Seder Olam. This particular Midrash is attributed to the Tanna (Foremost Teacher) Yose ben Halafta.
A Midrash is a revered source emanating from one of the Rabbis quoted in the Talmud or someone of similar status from around the same time period.
A Midrash is not necessarily authoritative in its own right but needs to be related to in a respectful manner. Different Midrashim may differ from each other.
Some Midrashim indicate that the "first week" of Creation lasted for extremely long periods of time. A day in Biblical Hebrew can mean 24 hours or simply a unit of time.
Psalms (NKJV) 90:
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
See Also: Zephyr: Age of the Earth.
Dr. Gerald Schroeder interprets Nachmanides description of the 6 days of creation in conjunction with Einstein's relativistic view of time applied to the expansion of space-time to say that the 6 days of creation are 15.75 Billion years from our perspective.
There are Modern Orthodox Rabbis who believe that the world is older than 6,000 years.
Judaism in general emphasizes Religious Duties rather than philosophical questions.
Most Orthodox Rabbis accept the Bible as Literally as possible. In practice this means leaving the length of Creation as an Open Question but accepting the fact that the first man was created about 6000 years ago and not before that.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, did not accept Evolution BUT did not consider it to be against the Torah.
Wikipedia tells us:
Prominent Orthodox rabbis who have affirmed that the world is older, and that life has evolved over time include Israel Lipschitz, Sholom Mordechai Schwadron (the MaHaRSHaM) (1835-1911), Zvi Hirsch Chajes (1805-1855) and Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935). (Kook was interested in evolution partly as a bridge between religious and secular Zionists.) These rabbis proposed their own versions of theistic evolution, in which the world is older, and that life does evolve over time in accord with natural law, painting natural law as the process by which God drives the world.
Various popular works, citing an array of classical, Orthodox views, attempt to reconcile traditional Jewish texts with modern scientific findings concerning evolution, the age of the earth and the age of the Universe; these include:
Nathan Aviezer: In the Beginning, Biblical Creation and Science; Fossils and Faith: Understanding Torah and Science
Aryeh Carmell and Cyril Domb, ed.: Challenge: Torah Views on Science and Its Problems
Daniel E. Friedmann: The Genesis One Code: Demonstrates a clear alignment between the times of key events described in the Genesis with those derived from scientific observation. and The Broken Gift: Harmonizing the Biblical and scientific accounts of human origins
Aryeh Kaplan: Immortality, Resurrection and the Age of the Universe: A Kabbalistic View
Yehuda Levi: Torah and Science - Their Interplay in the World Scheme
Jonathan Sacks: The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search For Meaning
Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery of Harmony Between Modern Science and the Bible; The Science of God
Out of the above Schroeder and Kaplan are especially popular.
Rabbi Avraham Feld (of Brit-Am fame) is a follower of Schroeder.
Yair Davidiy inclines more to the Ultra-Orthodox viewpoint which is mostly against Evolution.
Two Rabbis who were prominent opponents to the Theory of Evolution are:
# Rabbi Avigdor Miller, a highly revered American Haredi rabbi of the Lithuanian Yeshivah Tradition, who was also highly respected in Hasidic communities such as Satmar, was strongly opposed to the theory of evolution, and wrote strong polemics against evolution in several of his books, as well as speaking about this subject often in his popular lectures, taking a Creationist position. Several selections from his books on this subject were collected in a pamphlet he published in 1995 called "The Universe Testifies". #
Rabbi Miller wrote in a similar style to Christian Fundamentalist Creationists and used virtually the same arguments.
# Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Rebbe of the worldwide movement of Lubavitcher or Chabad Hasidism, was avidly opposed to evolution, and his following remains committed to that position. #
The Rabbi of Chabad wrote against Evolution taking a logical common-sense philosophjical approach to the subject.
It is also worth mentioning, "Mysteries of the Creation. A Cosmology Derived from Tanach and Chazal," by Rabbi Dovid Brown, Israel, 1997, in which he explains Creation, the Flood, Biblical History, etc, within the Framework of the Biblical Timeline, through Catastrophism (similar to that of Emmanuel Velikovsky) as indicated by Talmudic and Midrashic sources.
In 2004-2005, three popular books, [in implied support of Evolution], by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (sometimes pronounced Nosson Slifkin) were banned by a group of Haredi rabbinic authorities on the grounds that they were heretical.
Rabbi Yose Mizrachi is also a prominent opponent of Evolution:
In our opinion the Creationists are the more correct BUT we do not need them in order to believe in the Bible. Even so, the Bible is the revealed word of God. The Bible is quite clear that the first man was Adam and that all humanity descended from him. Later, the whole of mankind was obliterated in the Deluge and only Noah and his family remained. Explaining this and understanding it to our mind is more important than arguing about whether One Day of Creation really meant only 24 hours in our time or much, much, longer. Therefore any rational theoretical scenario concerning the past that stands to reason and is consistent with the Bible is of interest to us.
This brings us to Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson who explains DNA findings within a Biblical Time-Frameframe. We disagree with Dr. Jeanson on more than half of his suggestions but what remains is still of great potential value.
Concerning the DNA Aspects of Evolutionary Theory see: Dr. Nathaniel T. Jeanson.