Jewish Creationists

Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 135, 2010 November)


The claim that all, or most all, Darwin doubters are Christian fundamentalists is commonly found in both the popular and professional scholarly literature.

Professor Douglas Futuyma, in his classic work attacking all Darwin doubters, mentioned the word fundamentalist in connection with those who have problems with Darwinism over 14 times on pages 5 to 7 alone. He concluded that the Christian "fundamentalists assault" on science involves the challenge to evolution that was "mounted by religious fundamentalists [adversely] touches us all" (Futuyma, 1983, p. 5).

Futuyma then adds "according to the fundamentalists, physicists are wrong" and all "geology is under siege" by Christian "fundamentalists" and "in the United States, fundamentalists religion, holding a literal interpretation of the bible, has proved a more tenacious and powerful opponent" to Darwinism then anywhere else in the world (Futuyma, 1983 pp. 5-6).

This claim is simply false. Some form of creationism has remained very strong among conservative Christians, Jews, and Muslims (Morris, 1989, p. 23).

One of the better-known Jewish organizations that publishes pro-creation material is the National Conference of Synagogue Youth.  One of its publications, A Science and Torah Reader (a special issue of Jewish Youth Monthly) was written by several prominent Jewish scientists who are generally not associated in the public mind with the creationist movement.  While they evidently eschew any formal creationist affiliation, they clearly have well thought-out objections to Darwinism, and openly defend many central creationist beliefs.  For example, Morris Goldman Ph.D. wrote in his article, "A Critical Review of Evolution," that Jewish youth should ask themselves if it is reasonable to question the validity of evolution, a belief that is so widely and so firmly held today by so many knowledgeable professionals and second, What, if anything, is so terribly wrong with this doctrine from a Jewish point of view?  ... The mere fact that lots of people believe in a particular hypothesis does not automatically make it true.  Every scientific theory, every scientific doctrine must be examined and checked relentlessly in the light of information gathered constantly by reliable investigators.  Thus, to question acceptable doctrine is to act in the best traditions of scientific research (1970, p. 42).

After establishing that Darwinism is incompatible with Judaism, Goldman then proceeded to critically analyze the evidence for Darwinian evolution "from a strictly scientific view" as presented in one of the most commonly used American high school biology textbooks, the blue version of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS).  

Other articles in this journal include "Genetics versus Evolution" by Dr. Edward Simon, "Science vs. Evolution?" by Dr. Robert Perlman, "Geophysics or Faith?" by Manachem M. Schneerson, and "Science vs. Scientism" by Carl N. Klahr.

Another journal called Intercom, the organ of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists in America, regularly publishes articles critical of macro-evolution and naturalism. One organization of Jewish professors and physicians recently printed an advertisement in the Jewish Press (the largest independent Anglo-Jewish weekly newspaper in America) signed by 49 Jewish physicians and scientists who support a creation view. The add concluded that "the form and function of every organ of the human body testifies that they are the handiwork of a divine creator."  

University of Chicago Ph.D. Nathan Aviezer, a highly respected scientist and author of nearly one hundred scientific articles, wrote In the Beginning: Biblical Creation in Science
(Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 1990).  He argues in this work that the current scientific evidence (not theory) is in remarkable agreement with the biblical account of creation, that modern scientific findings have clarified many biblical passages, and, as a result, creation and the facts of science now compliment each other.

Another well-known Jewish anti-Darwin book is Not By Chance (Brooklin, NY. Judaica Press, 1997) by Dr. Lee Spetner.  Professor Spetner, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD, was for many years a biophysicist at Johns Hopkins University until he moved to Israel.  A very accomplished scientist, he has published in Nature and other leading peer reviewed scientific journals.

Yet another Jewish creationist is Gerald Schroeder, a physicist with a doctorate also from MIT.  His many books published by mainline New York publishers include Genesis and the Big Bang; The Discovery and Harmony Between Modern Science and the Bible (Bantam, 1990): The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (Free Press, 1997); and The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth (Free Press, 2001).

Dr. Schroeder concludes that the Bible and modern science are not at odds about the origin of the universe, and that the two views can effectively be reconciled without compromising either when science fact is considered instead of science speculation.  He reviews a large amount of scientific data from both physics and biology that relates to the Biblical record, including the many scientific problems with Darwinism and why the scientific evidence supports intelligent design.  He is also an effective and articulate critic of Richard Dawkins.

Oxford University Rabbi Shmuel Boteach, who also debated Richard Dawkins, wrote that the entire question of our origins which confounds most everyone sooner or later has traditionally never confused the Jew. For him or her, the beginning of all existence was summed up in the first verse of the Torah: "In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In his monumental philosophical work, Guide of the Perplexed, Maimonides teaches: "Those who follow the law of Moses hold that the whole Universe has been brought by God into existence out of non-existence. This theory is undoubtedly a fundamental principle of law of Moses; it is next in importance to the principle of God’s unity" (1994, p. 531).

He concluded that many scholars have given credence to an alternative explanation of the origin of life and existence, which claims libraries of proof, and is popularly known as "evolution." There can be no question that evolution has served over the past hundred and fifty years as the greatest challenge to traditional Judaism and biblical claims. Ever since it was first systematized and offered by its founder Charles Darwin, it has gnawed away at the faith of the believer (1994, p. 531).  

The fact is, Boteach stresses, that the "most direct result of the surge in the respectability of the Theory of Evolution has been discrediting of the biblical narrative of creation" (1994, p. 532). As result the Jewish worldview has "been labeled as primitive, mythological and simplistic" (1994, p. 532). In contrast to the claims of the Darwinists, debate on the validity of macro-evolution is not dead, even at Oxford University. Boteach wrote the one matter that he was constantly questioned about in Oxford is the spectre of science and evolution having supplanted religion and the need for a Divine origin for human existence. If God created us, then it makes sense to assume this was for a purpose. If life, however, sprang up by chance, then it follows that we owe no homage to a Creator or a tradition, both of whose validity are shaky at best [if evolution is true] (1994, p. 532).

The problem at Oxford University is an unhealthy climate exists that has produced a dogmatic unquestioningly accepting of the propositions necessitated by the Theory of Evolution. If it is unhealthy for an individual to jump blindly into religious doctrines and belief, and I have constantly told my students that it is, then the same is true of scientific theory as well. Judaism has a very proud intellectual tradition which should continue to govern all aspects of our life (1994, p. 532).

In addition, many Jewish Christians are active in creation and Intelligent Design movements, including chemist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, head of Creation Ministries International, geologist/attorney Casey Luskin, science head of the Intelligent Design think tank The Discovery Institute and professor Marvin Olasky, a Michigan State PhD who is now president of Kings College in New York and editor of World Magazine.
 

References

Boteach, Shmuell. 994. Moses of Oxford. London: Andre Deutsch Ltd.
Futuyma, Douglas. 1983. Science on Trial. New York: Pantheon.


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