Saturday, 30 August 2008

From the Pulpit - A Jewish View

Jonathan Sacks speaks out in the Times;

Next year will be a double anniversary for followers of Darwin: the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species. We will no doubt hear it asserted that Darwin dealt a death blow to religious belief.

That, it should be said, is quite untrue. What it dealt a death blow to was one very poor argument for the existence of God, namely the argument from design. This argument figures nowhere in the Hebrew Bible. It does not even belong to its world of thought. It belongs instead to the tradition of Ancient Greece and to the idea that the most important truths are those that can be proved.

What might a religious believer say to Darwin’s heirs? The following thoughts are purely hypothetical, but he or she might say, first, that Darwin helped us to understand the “how” of God’s “Let there be”. The Creator created not just life but life that is in itself creative.

That may be the meaning of the otherwise untranslatable phrase in Genesis ii, 3, that on the seventh day God rested “from all His work that God had created la’asot”, which means literally “to do, act, make”. Jewish commentators understood this to mean that God implanted creativity into nature. God creates something from nothing. Nature creates something from something. Darwin brought new depth to this idea.

The BCSE is religiously neutral.  Just like science.  Just like evolutionary theory.

Interestingly the Rabbi does initially talk of claims that Darwin deals a death blow to religious belief.

I don't know of any atheists who would agree with that, it is in fact the Creationists who link evolution with atheism.

In fact they commonly label religious believers who accept the evidence for evolution as "crypto-atheists".

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