Musings on the Creation Debate and Jewish Belief

So, I really wanted to write something amazing about the Bill Nye-Ken Ham smackdown that happened at the Creation Museum. But I have nothing truly inspiring to say. I was, and still am, fully Team Nye. I found that Ham’s views were very biased and based on a narrow interpretation of both Gd and the Bible. I had actually hoped that Ham would bring out real science to refute Nye…but alas, it was not to be.

The Debate

 Some Tweets

And one of my own (why not?):

See also:  Live Tweeting of the Debate here at the Friendly Atheist

And what came after the debate was even better:

So what?

But where does that leave us? In my mind, well, exactly where we started. Judaism’s main tenet of faith is not Biblical literalism, so we don’t have to stay within that box to keep our faith. For Christians, it is absolutely essential that the Bible be literally true. 

Unlike Christians, we vary widely in how we interpret the Bible. There are very few “standard” interpretations on anything. (Which is half the fun, in my opinion.)

From Creationism & Evolution in Jewish Thought:

Other Jewish thinkers, such as Mordecai Kaplan and Yeshayahu Leibowitz, reconcile the biblical account of creation with evolutionary theory by rejecting literal understandings of the Bible in favor of metaphorical or allegorical readings. They argue that the Bible is not meant to provide an accurate scientific description of the origins of the world. Rather, it is a spiritual account of why the world came into being and what our role is in it. These thinkers follow a long tradition of Jewish commentators who view the Bible non-literally, from rabbis of the Talmudic era to Maimonides.

Some kabbalists embrace aspects of evolutionary theory as a corroboration of Kabbalistic understandings of the origins of the world and its development. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, saw evolutionary theory as support for the Kabbalistic ideas of the unity of life and the progressive unfolding of natural history.

I would not follow a Rabbi that was not as open-minded as I am. The Rabbi I learn under has taught me that the Torah and science should line up, and if they don’t, then perhaps we don’t understand one (or the other) well enough. One of the larger attractions of Jewish community life, for me, was the ability to question. I am encouraged to question and discuss and delve deep…and that’s okay. I can ask hard questions without the fear of stepping out of the box. As a Christian, I instinctively knew where the lines where between “in the box thinking” and “out of the box thinking”. The latter leads to loss of faith and so was avoided in fundamentalist Christianity, especially Christianity of the Ken Ham variety.

If we believe that Gd designed us, we must also believe that we were given brains for a reason. And part of the uniqueness of our brain is to ask why. It’s the question that makes us different. If we were given intellectual capacities by a higher power, should we use those faculties to question and debate? I think so.

Some links for reading on Jewish beliefs on evolution vs. creation. They vary. :

Judaism and Evolution (Jewish Virtual Library)

Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism? (Chabad)

Judaism and Darwinian Evolution

The Jewish View of Creation (HuffPo Religion)

and to counter the HuffPo piece:

The Jewish View of Creationism? Really? (Science Blogs)

The Origins of Life: A Jewish Perspective (NPR)

The Jewish Prospective on Evolution

 Ask the Rabbi: Evolution vs. Creation (Jews for Judaism)

And if you’re really wondering what’s up with those like Ham who wouldn’t be persuaded even by evidence, try this article: “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science

Did you watch the debate? Does evolution/creationism affect your faith/worldview?

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About Lynn Hall

Lynn Hall (Swayze) is a an IT professional and mother of four. She was raised Southern Baptist, but began questioning her faith before she became a teenager. She is currently converting to Judaism. Email her at lynnmariehall {at} outlook {dot} com, or connect on Facebook or @Following_Ruth or @SQLLynn.