Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Torah Creationism Or Evolution? Principle Issues on Each Side

Just to set the stage, here is a quote from Lord Kelvin, one of the seminal scientists who shaped modern physics:
The more thoroughly I conduct scientific research, the more I believe that science excludes atheism.
I don't need to bring proof that some scientists are atheists and/or believe in evolution; however, I want to be clear that the idea of creation is not, in and of itself, an unscientific concept.  This is not, of course, a proof that atheism is unscientific; I just want a level playing field.

In order to decide how to live my life effectively, I must understand the intended purpose (if any) of my existence.  There are many (many, many, sigh...) proposed candidates; lots of religions, lots of philosophies; a veritable plethora of -isms.  To winnow the playing field to only the reasonable candidates for Truth, I only accept those that satisfy the following criteria.
  1. A logical system.  That knocks out religions that just willy-nilly add yet another god whenever they need to "explain" this or that; i.e. it just gives name to the question and calls it a god.
  2. Internally consistent.  That knocks out any religion, for example, that claims to be a derivative/replacement for Torah/Orthodox Judaism.  You know who you are.
  3. Consistent with known/measured data.  That does not include age of universe, which is produced by a model, and the like; distribution of stars, red/blue shift in spectrum, etc are data.
Note that just because something didn't make my cut, does not mean that is it false.  That is, it is certainly possible that the Truth is not something that fits those criteria, and I would therefore be missing it.  However, I think my criteria are reasonable.  Moreover, if the one true system of belief actually is excluded by my criteria, then it seems to me that it is impossible to logically arrive at that truth and so any reward and punishment that may or may not lie in the future cannot reasonably take me to task for not considering it.  I am willing to bet my eternal soul on that premise.

That being said, once the dust has settled, I am left with two possible choices for how this world came into being: evolution and Torah creation.  These two imply vastly different lifestyle choices, and I therefore am obliged to make a choice.  At this juncture, the most reasonable and scientific approach is to choose the system that requires me to make the fewest and smallest leaps of faith.
N.B.: If you blindly and dogmatically choose to believe that there is no Creator who created the world by His Will; then you have made a choice.  I am not that dogmatic; therefore I am unwilling to make such an unprovable and huge leap of faith.
Leap of faith required to accept Torah view: belief in eternal reward and punishment for (finite) actions in this world.  Crux of issue: Creator knows what we are going to do even before (whatever that means, since the Creator is outside of time) we are created.  The classic work introductory work on that is דעת תבונות, aka "The Knowing Heart"; at least it is an approach.

Leaps of faith required to accept evolution:
  1. abiogenesis/life from non-life.  Biology took a huge leap forward by denying life could come from non-life, then had to back off and say, "well... except that one time it happened billions of years ago before; but never again."  For a more or less objective review of the problems with finding a solution to the abiogenesis problem, see The Ascent of Science, by Brian L. Silver; a bit dated, but not much progress since then.
  2. macroevolution: nearly all important steps (wings from scales and walking upright, for example) require changes that "will be good in the long run", but are horrifically handicapping in the short (ie, millions of years) run, but evolution is supposed to be stateless and each step needs to be an improvement.
  3. morality: man should be just a smart bear, but he is actually a smart bear with a moral compass.
For my money, I am going with Torah.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…