Parshas Ki Seitzei — Darwin’s Appendix

No one understands everything. The problems begin when we think we do.


  1. #1 by Norm Pressman on August 28, 2009 - 9:16 am

    Rabbi-This article exemplifies why I don’t think mainstream Jews or our St. Louis Jewish Federation should support your school. Your column is nonsense. Teaching children that evolution is false and that the biblical command about mixing different kinds of clothes were commanded by the enttity which created the universe(whethe you call it Hashem or the Big Bankg), provided the spark of life makes no more sense that the ancient beliefs that the Sun God rode a chariot across the sky.

  2. #2 by torahideals on August 28, 2009 - 9:44 am

    Pity Mr. Pressman didn’t pay attention to what he was reading before he commented, or read the linked news article that was the basis for the essay. I did not say that evolution was false, only that one piece of Darwin’s “evidence” has been called seriously into question. Further, the arbitrary dismissal of the many problems that evolutionary theory cannot answer hardly allows its adherents to argue from a position of rational empiricism.

    I do appreciate Mr. Pressman’s remarks, however, since they serve as a perfect example of the kind of knee-jerk and dogmatic arrogance that is in fact the subject of my article.

  3. #3 by Norm Pressman on August 28, 2009 - 12:44 pm

    I did read the linked article. It’s either my ability to read or your ability to write which has confused one of us. Here is a pointed question:

    Do you really believe that the creator of the the universe, milkyway galaxy, our solar system and earth wants us mortal humans with well our developed brains to avoid mixing different types of cloth or having diferent animals pull a cart? Surely even a rabbi can answer this question with a simple yes or no. Howe about it?

    If there really is such an entity which has created the universe and sparked life and then human life why would she make such arbitrary rules and to what purpose?

    Do you really teach this stuff at Bais Yakoov? Is that what Federation money is going for there?

  4. #4 by torahideals on August 29, 2009 - 10:21 pm

    I may be in error by allowing Mr. Pressman a forum to embarrass himself so consistently by asking the same questions over and over and then ignoring the answers. However, there may be some benefit to other readers in pursuing this thread just a little further.

    Do I really believe that the Creator of the universe wants us mortal humans with our well-developed brains to avoid mixing different types of cloth or animals that pull our carts?

    Yes, I do. Nor are the rules arbitrary. They are profound and eminently reasonable, as explained in part by the article Mr. Pressman claims to have read. I also believe in other things I can’t see or understand, like sub-atomic particles, micro-organisms, electricity, and the force of gravity. Call me delusional, if you will.

    Do they really teach this stuff at Bais Yaakov? I imagine so, although I can’t say for certain since I don’t teach there.

    I can, however, speak for my own school, Block Yeshiva, where we do teach that the existence of the Creator of the Universe is strongly evidenced by the myriad natural phenomena that science cannot explain. We teach that the Almighty is the basis of all morality, and that it is impossible to defend any moral or ethical position without knowledge of His law. We teach how to engage in reasoned debate without resorting to empty rhetoric as compensation for an absence of information and logic.

    We also teach our students to approach new ideas that may be counter-intuitive with an open mind and a genuine desire to learn the truth, rather than rabidly asserting pre-formulated opinions and engaging in character assassination against any who might think otherwise. We teach all this as part of our mission to imbue our students with commitment to Jewish tradition, Jewish values, and the Jewish community.

    We also teach spelling.

  5. #5 by Steven Edward Aanes on September 1, 2009 - 11:09 am

    I often run into camps of both closed-minded purists of the agnostic or even atheist school and misguided zealots who rage vehemently against what they call “devil-ution.” I find both extreme positions disturbing and promoting ignorance through examples of intransigence.
    As a biologist, I can confirm that there many legitimate questions concerning traditional Darwinism. That is as it should be. Science must be questioned, and relentlessly so. This is how we learn.

    And as a student of history, I can state that the idea of evolution, simply put, change over time, goes back at least to Aristotle.

    What a lot of folks either conveniently forget about or never knew is that in many cases both camps are throwing out the metaphorical baby with the bath water. They are closing ranks with their geistbruderen when in fact the real pivot of difference is in defining the mechanism by which change over time comes, not that it either does or does not.

    I myself cannot conceive of randomness and chance.
    These in my humble opinion are words which describe our inability to comprehend all the variables which make up the fabric of our world and ha olam.

    Change does come over time, sometimes faster than usual.
    But everything, never forget, is by the power and grace of the Gr_nd Architecht.

    Praise Hashem!

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