Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Curious Evolution

This is not a "science and Torah" blog, and I'm really not interested in a larger discussion about what is true and what isn't, etc. I noticed this post at BeyondBT, and it made me curious as to what the average Orthodox Jew thinks about the subject. Here was the post:

I have a work associate who seems interested in Torah, but he likes to challenge me about contradictions between Torah and science and other things. He recently asked me about the Torahs views on Evolution.

On the one hand, I could say that that I don’t believe in evolution and there are many holes in evolution theory and that scientists are biased against a belief in G-d. On the other hand, many secular Jews accept the scientific consensus that evolution did take place, and I could make the case that a G-d directed evolution would not necessarily contradict the Torah.

My Rav holds that you don’t have to take a 6,000 year creation literally.

What approach makes more sense when dealing with non observant Jews?

- Jack

My response in the comments, after the more esteemed comments from scientists such as Charlie Hall and Zach Kessin, was
From a simpleton’s POV… if your Rav has said that you need not hold to a literalistic interpretation, what positive would be gleaned by choosing against evolution? I would think that the only reason a person would say evolution does not happen is because they feel it is against the Torah; with that not an issue, there seems to be no reason to do so.
I then wondered what most people in the frum world think. Do most people not care? Do they not care, but if asked, they'd say evolution did not happen and/or does not exist? Would they not care but say it did and/or does? Would they care?

A few personal experiences have led me to believe that most people don't care... but if it comes up, they're harshly against evolution simply because they've been brought up with an extremely literalistic interpretation of things. The more they care about the subject, the more they seem to believe that things aren't quite that simple. There are exceptions - some people care deeply and still are strongly against the idea; others care almost not at all but take it as a given that evolution does and did happen. I'm just curious what y'all think.