Evolution & Orthodox Judaism

A secular friend of mine stayed with some Orthodox Jews for a couple of days and then got in touch with me:

“Ok so I’m having this crisis. I am staying with these religious people and I really like them and everything and then they try to tell me evolution isn’t real and we didn’t come from apes! I started crying because I know that’s not true. I can’t be willingly ignorant like that
I don’t understand what is wrong with people. Please tell me you don’t believe that crap that it didn’t happen.”

Luke: “Oy! Can you enjoy what is good with these people and ignore the rest? Many orthodox jews believe in evolution but it is never worth an argument.”

Two days later, my friend says: “I’m still having an anxiety attack about it because this other guy who I thought was cool just told me he doesn’t believe humans evolved from the same thing as other animals
Christ. What the **** is wrong with people? I thought he was smart!
Now not so much. I don’t think you can be smart and believe that
or maybe I’m too judgey? I’m just flabbergasted.”

Luke: “Some Orthodox Jews believe the earth is the center of the universe and the sun revolves around the earth.”

Friend: “STFU! I can’t believe in magic! I can’t believe in things which contradict the laws of physics. Sorry not happening. I think I just like these people’s lifestyle but I think a lot of their beliefs are bonkers. For example, ‘the world to come’.”

Luke: “You can behave like other people without taking on their beliefs, you just have to keep your trap shut.”

Friend: “Ugh! I have such a hard time with that. Can’t I just go someplace where people are completely honest about things?

“Why do people need to believe in magic and things that are proven to be false? Does it comfort them or something? Also – if humans are divine, what even is a human? Are Neanderthals human? Are homo erectuses human? These things aren’t so clear cut. What makes a creature human / not human?”

“I’ve never been so confused in my entire life. These things torture me and I can’t sleep at night. I wish I was one of these people who could just sleepwalk through life and not care. I will literally be in the middle of a bar and a party and I will just be sitting there staring at everyone in disbelief wondering how they can be so carefree and loose.”

Chaim Amalek: “Evolutionists do not believe that humans evolved from apes, but that humans and apes (and every other living thing) evolved from a common ancestor. Nice people can believe crazy, ahistorical things. Consider the Mormons. Much of what they believe isn’t just wrong, it is provably wrong a dozen times over. But does that make Mormons evil or personally stupid? They are a nice people, and Mormon women tend to be very pretty and make good wives and mothers. And much of what they teach is nonsense. On the other hand, most of what the murderous atheistic Reds taught about evolution (once they had gotten Lysenko out of their system) was correct, or at least more correct than what your orthodox Jewish friends believe. Such is life. My advice to you is to marry, have children, and not fret over these matters until you are old.”

Jeffrey: “Those religious people who are not necessarily careful scientific thinkers resist basic Darwinism because it is so frequently associated with atheism, and militant atheism to boot (as in the bumper sticker that mocks the Christian fish symbol by reproducing it with legs and “Darwin” inside. [Fish = Icthys = “Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ”, (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), = “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour”). It is not so much a matter of natural philosophy right or wrong but of ideas as symbols of group identity and values. That’s why after a meeting of US Rabbis with Pope JP II on his American trip, R. Avroham Hecht, a much respected Orthodox leader and the only Orthodox Rabbi in the group–most were lefty and essentially secular–quipped that he felt a lot more comfortable with the Pope than with his co-religionists.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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