Guide to the Perplexed: Darwin, Creationism, Evolution, and the Jews

Fundamentalist Religions and the whacko’s who practice them have long been battling science and the ever increasing data set that comes with it. Hangings, Burning at the stake, and forced renunciations were once the order of the day. From Scopes to the push to include creationism in science classrooms, the battles continue.

 

But, not all religious folk are so ludicrous. My grandfather is a Southern Baptist Preacher, and he sees no problem whatsoever with Evolution or the age of the Earth. And, apparently, neither do some Jewish Rabbi’s.

 

The seeming ease with which this branch of Judaism has embraced science can in large part be credited to the towering intellectual legacy of Moses Maimonides. In his 12th-century masterpiece, “Guide to the Perplexed,” Maimonides opened the door to a Judaism unfettered by a literal reading of religious texts. For many Jews the persuasive case for evolution does indeed amount to a crisis of faith, but the Maimonidean precedent of figurative interpretation provides a framework within which conflicts arising between Torah and science can be argued away. To be sure, some arguments are more compelling than others (and a great many are not compelling at all). But in contrast to many observant Christians, there is a greater willingness of these believers to live with such inconsistencies.

 

 

Fundamentalists are the more vocal of the different religious types, always griping about the ‘sinfulness’ of all of the rest of us heathens. And, maybe they’re right. But, it is refreshing to remind oneself that a person can believe in God and still be a rational human being who understands what the facts are telling them, and wouldn’t implode if they sat in on a science class.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Guide to the Perplexed: Darwin, Creationism, Evolution, and the Jews

  1. I’ve always seen the purpose of Science as explaining “how”. It is indeed foolish to not use our God-given intellect to figure things out. To me, my faith in God explains “who.” By this I mean, somewhere along the line, the question of where space and time itself came from needs to be answered. What is the origin of matter itself? In addition, religion and philosophy attempt to answer the questions of meaning, because if there is no supreme being, there is absolutely no method of measuring an absolute moral law apart from what happens to be agreed upon by the current majority. If there is no absolute moral law, then there truly is no good and evil, and society, comprised of selfish individuals, must evolve to sustain itself based on the feelings of the majority. Further, even if society were to evolve to a point where we aren’t bombing each other all the time, realistically, who cares when life itself is meaningless.

  2. I caught this post (https://saij.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/is-belief-in-god-necessary-for-human-rights/) after I commented. This is a fantastic discussion.

  3. Oh, ya. The topic is imminently fascinating. I was glad to see that over at Balkinization. Thanks for the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s