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August 14, 2006

Comments

David B.

If I only had the mutant power to look like someone else, like the blue lady did in 'X-Men'. I'd show up as Big Ben's Brutha, sit back, and enjoy listening to the greatest thinker on this earth!

Damn these obstacles!

Barbara

Fr. Fessio is invited. Maybe you could get on the gravy train. ;)

Mia Storm

I haven't yet perfected the art of polyjuice potion, but, once I do, I'm headed to Shulerkreis. I haven't decided yet whether to go as Fr. Fessio or Cdl. Schonborn. I plan to pay my way over there by selling polyjuice potion to other parties interested in sneaking into the Holy Father's conference. ;)

David B.

Mia,

What's your bank account? I'll send a fat check.

Bill Walsh

Jimmy,

As a fellow language freak, you should know it's Schülerkreis. Schuler is student, plural is Schüler.

Michael

Can you imagine having a free-flowing theological conversation with Joseph Ratzinger when he's not under the limit factors of Cardinal or Pope??? One of my old professors at Saint Louis University studied under Ratzinger at Tubingen and told us stories about his lectures and off-the-cuff theological remarks that no one outside the Pontiff's close circle could imagine came from Ratzinger lips!

It's becoming more well-known that Ratzinger and John Paul II would often engage in private theological discussion and debate on questions such as communio ecclesiology and Mariology. In fact, their understandings of the human reception of revelation were not completely harmonious, JPII taking the more Thomist view of intelligibility and Ratzinger looking more at the affective value response a la Bonaventure.

What I wouldn't give to hear Benedict's personal, private views on those unsettled theological questions within the Catholic faith! Some people are more blessed than others. ;)

Puzzled

It would be amazing.

J.R. Stoodley

I believe the spelling could be Schülerkreis or Schuelerkreis, but not Shulerkreis or Schulerkreis.

Cool stuff in any case. I do think that in conjunction to the continued investigation of the philisophical elements of Evolution theologians should be putting much effort into examining intended meaning of Genesis, not only the creation stories but the early genealogies and things like the Flood and Sodom and Gommorah, and the Plagues of Egypt in Exodus, that seem not to have happened in light of modern genetics, geology, and archeology. They would also have to take into consideration the statements of Jesus, Paul, and Jude that seem to promote a literal interpretation of much of this stuff. It seems clear that a theistic evolution is not directly contradictory to written Catholic doctrine, but is it contradictory to the intended meaning of inspired, inerrant Scripture?

Ultimately I am willing to renounce my scientific knowledge if it conflicts with the Catholic Faith, though it would be difficult since some of the evidence is so convincing to me that it seems hard to see the Faith contradicting it in light Catholic respect for both Faith and Reason. Also, I have yet to find a rational Creationist source that does not misrepresent modern Evolutionary theory.

rob

Sounds like a nonsense-fest.

Maureen

Well, the question is "What about Genesis didn't happen?" Undoubtedly, God did create everything. Undoubtedly, there were a couple of hominids whom God suddenly turned into real humans with souls.

Why do people actually worry about the details that have symbolic meaning as if they were supposed to be real events? It's like stressing over whether Soria Moria Castle is inhabited by a 12-headed giant or a 9-headed one. That doesn't matter (unless you're doing numeric Bible interpretation). What matters in general is that, ooh, the biggest baddest obstacle to the hero dwells in Soria Moria Castle, along with the princess the hero's come to rescue.

Life would be a lot simpler if the Bible came with Library of Congress genre classifications on each chapter.

J.R. Stoodley

Maureen,

It is especially important if you are a college biology student and contemplating a carrier in science.

Also the matter is becoming increasingly politically important. We live in a country where about a third of the population believes the world was created in seven days, if I recall the National Geographic artical correctly, and they tend to want Evolution labled as "just a theory" and Creationism or Intelligent Design taught in public schools.

Also, if the universe is trillions of years old and humanity has been around for about 100,000 years that sheds new light on the idea of the last 2000 years being the "last days" compared to if the world was about four thousand something years old or six or whatever the number is.

Also many Protestants of the more conservative type think we Catholics do not believe the Bible is truely inspired and inerrant because of our frequently loose interpretation of Genesis. This has implications in ecumenism and our attempted alliance the culture wars.

Also the very loose interpretation of Genesis and the lack of archeological and historical evidence for Old and even New Testament events and even apparent geographical mistakes disturbs the faith of many and leads some to downplay or deny the inerrancy of Scripture on other matters like what Jesus said and did.

Also those of us with particular interest in theology, biology, and history find it an especially interesting subject.

Brother Cadfael

A couple of observations.

The terms "evolution" and "intelligent design" each have varied meanings, and I often find people talking past each other because they think they're talking about one thing, and the other person is talking about a completely different concept. Michael Behe does a good job of pointing out the need for clear, precise language in this regard at the beginning of "Darwin's Black Box." Cardinal Schonborn seemed to fall into this trap a bit in his First Things debates on evolution versus intelligent design.

Second, it seems that both the Bible and science provide clues that our understanding of "time" may need some adjustment. In Scripture, a day is as a thousand years or vice versa. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking (as many others have done) points out that time would have operated completely differently immediately after the big bang. I don't recall exactly, but I believe thousands of years (or more) would have been compressed into seconds. A fundamentalist interpretation that tries to plug creation into a 144 hour period as we would experience 144 hours today seems to make no sense any way you slice it. At least to me.

Dan E.

"Undoubtedly, there were a couple of hominids whom God suddenly turned into real humans with souls."
Undoubtedly? I doubt it, myself. I prefer to believe that God truly did say, "Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth." And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.

"In A Brief History of Time, Hawking (as many others have done) points out that time would have operated completely differently immediately after the big bang."
I would be very wary of taking the word of Steven Hawking as truth when it comes to creation. Especially when speaking of the illogical cop-out that is the big bang theory. It is totally unbiblical and is easily refuted with the question, "If there was a big bang, what caused it?" An even better question, unacceptable to the likes of Hawking, would be, "Who caused it?"

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.

I do not listen to Stephen Hawking on creation (I'm frankly not sure I've ever seen him address the issue, but maybe he has). The scientific evidence for the big bang is staggering, and there is nothing illogical unbiblical about it. Who caused it? God. Forgive me if I fail to see how either the question or the answer refutes the big bang theory.

Dan E.

Bro. Cadfael,
You don't believe the big bang is unbiblical? I don't see how the Genesis narrative and the big bang theory can be coincided.
Clearly, Genesis specifies that the earth was created the First Day, before there was light, stars, moon or sun. The big bang postulates the creation of the sun and other stars (and thus their light) at the same time as the earth.
Even if you weren't to accept the 24-hour day/ 6 days of creation model, you would have to accept that there is described in Genesis an ordered process of creation, ie. the earth and its waters were created first, then light (not of the sun), then the "firmament", then dry land, then plants, then the stars, then the sun and moon, etc. We note that the sun didn't come until three days after the earth, a separation in time (however you define 'time') that was placed into the Bible for a reason. Therefore I believe that the big bang is unbiblical.

Brother Cadfael

I don't understand it...therefore it can't be true. Doesn't get much more unbiblical than that.

Dan E.

I don't understand it (the Book of Genesis)...therefore it can't be true (and it must have happened some other way). Doesn't get much more unbiblical than that.
Indeed.

Brother Cadfael

The Book of Genesis is absolutely (and inerrantly) true. The same God that inspired that Book -- indeed, whose Word is contained in that Book -- gave us brains to think and reason with and senses to experience His creation.

The dichotomy between science and religion that you have created is a false one. I do not suggest that we should listen to scientists for the explanation of why things are the way they are, but we should listen to them when they tell us what things are and how they came to be. In other words, listen to them in their field of competence.

When you listen to scientists in their field of competence, and the Church in its field of competence, you will be amazed at what you find.

Something Thomas Dubay, S.M., refers to as the Evidential Power fo Beauty.

Brother Cadfael

Excerpt from chapter 10 of Dubay's Evidential Power of Beauty:

"There are no theological problems with evolution, provided it remains firmly within scientifically verifiable facts and sheds any baseless philosophical bias against design. If facts compellingly demand design, as they do, honest science embraces the evidence and the conclusions. As we have noted in this chapter, our best scientists find no problem with what is here being stated. It is also interesting to note that Saint Augustine, back in the fourth or fifth century, has some lines that favor the evolutionary idea, and he seemed to find no problem with it."

Dan E.

I will only reject the theories of scientists when they contradict the inspired, inerrant Word of God. And I certainly won't put the theories of scientists in the field of creation and human origins above the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Dan E.

Evolution is another topic, which will hopefully be repudiated at the Schulerkreis. There is no way to say on the one hand that man evolved from a lesser being, while on the other stating that God created man in His image with Adam as His first human being.

"For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.", clause 37, Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII, 1950.

J.R. Stoodley

Dan E.

THe passage from Humani Generis that you quoted does not mean that God did not create the body of Adam thorugh natural evolution. That encyclical leaves the question open.

As this discussion demonstrates, the issue more hinges on the question of what Genesis proposes as true than on evolution itself. I hope this will be a major point of discussion at the Schülerkreis.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.

That's a good start! Glad to hear it.

When you talk about "scientists in the field of creation and human origins," to whom are you referring?

I have come across no scientific evidence for how matter came into being, nor can I conceive of any scientific evidence that could exist for such an event. The fields of theology and philosophy are much more competent to explain how something came to be from nothing. To the extent that science claims to explain this (or to be on the verge of being able to explain it, as I believe Hawking erroneously does), you are absolutely right to reject them.

But there is scientific evidence to be studied about what happened after something was created from nothing. Don't reject it out of hand simply because you don't understand how it could possibly be reconciled with the Book of Genesis. Perhaps your narrow interpretation of Genesis -- not shared by the Catholic Church -- is flawed.

Dan E.

"The passage from Humani Generis that you quoted does not mean that God did not create the body of Adam through natural evolution."
JR, I would say that it certainly does. If Adam was the result of evolution, it would follow that there were other "Adams" (and "Eves") that also evolved along side of him. That is to say that the species evolved en masse. This would contradict Humani Generis by placing Adam outside the role of "first parent of all."

Brother Cadfael,
If you could direct me to a document of a council or a papal encyclical which claims that Catholics should not believe in the Genesis account, I would be grateful. In the meantime, please explain the flaw in my view of Genesis.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.

The Church rejects the "many Adam" theory of evolution, but it does not reject the "one Adam" theory. That we are commonly descended from a single set of parents (Adam and Eve) and that each and every soul is created immediately by God are articles of divine and Catholic faith which every Catholic must hold. Evolutionary theories that do not contradict those premises are permitted, whether or not you find it difficult to reconcile them with your understanding of Genesis.

I never suggested that the Catholic Church does not believe in the Genesis account. It is disingenuous of you (at best) to suggest otherwise. I suggested that your reading of the Genesis account is flawed for being too narrow, and attempting to reject theories (presumably on the grounds that the Church would or should reject them) when the Church in fact does not reject them.

J.R. Stoodley

Dan E.

It is not a matter of believing the Genesis account or not but a matter of what Genesis actually proposes as true. Some people believe the only intent of the first chapters of Genesis is to say that God created everything, created woman out of man, etc. not give a detailed historical/scientific account of the early history of the Universe. Others disagree. This I think is the heart of the issue.

You are wrong that the creation of Adam's body means there need have been more than one Adam.

Consider this idea.

Scientists tell us that over a million years ago a hominid species called Homo ergaster lived in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. One or more other species lived in southeast Asia and Indonesia but no decendents of them are left alive today so they can be ignored.

The African Homo ergasters did not inovate their tools for several million years, and the European ones were not much better. It has been said that they could not improve their tools any more than a bird build a roof over its nest. About a million years ago an Ice Age started that froze Europe, and dried out the Middle East and Africa. The European/Middle Eastern population was cut off from the African one. The European/Middle Eastern population evolved into Homo neandertalis, the Neanderthals, whose technological improvement consisted of behavioral adaptations to a harsher climate, but they never made some logical mental leaps like learning to throw spears at pray instead of just stabbing, and they never produced any art even after living alongside modern humans for thousands of years.

Meanwhile, the African population declined and declined until they were more endangered than modern orangutans. Their skeletal changed to become essentially identical to that of modern humans (hence they begin being called Homo sapiens) but they remained the same dumb oafs they always had been.

Then suddenly, with no shange in skull structure, they made a "great leap forward" behaviorally. They began decorating their tools and inovating new inventions extremely rapidly, including water storage tecniques.

Due to the rapididy of the change scientists think it was probably a sudden mutation or short series of mutations that caused this. The two theories of what this was were a change in a small bone in the throat that made human speach possible, or a change in the internal structure of the brain that did not affect skull shape.

Recently one of these throat bones (not usually perserved) was discoverd for a Neanderthal proving that they were equally physically capable of speach, so it must have been a mental change.

This mutation, which allowed for creative thinking, gave the lucky individual and his or her childeren (the half that would inherit it that is) a great competitive advantage over their peers, causeing them to fairly rapidly replace all the others.

Despite the still equally harsh African climate, these modern humans exploded across the contenent and then thruout the world, thriving in almost any climate and outcompeting all the remaining other hominid species.

I like to think that the "mutation" was not a mutation at all, that God gave a male a rational, spiritual soul either at conception or later (I suspect at conception). It would not suprise me actually if there also was a mutation making his brain suitible for interaction with the soul and perhaps necessary metaphysically for there to be a distinct human nature.

Adam found no suitible companions in the animal society he lived in, so God then created a woman from this mans body (however that worked) and their decendents quickly out competed the "primitive Homo sapiens" as they would later do the Neanderthals.

Other hypothesis could be thought up, but it is clear that evolution does not automatically equal no singular Adam and Eve.

Dan E.

JR,
"Adam found no suitible companions in the animal society he lived in, so God then created a woman from this mans body (however that worked) and their decendents quickly out competed the "primitive Homo sapiens" as they would later do the Neanderthals."
Interesting theory. However, if God created a woman out of this man only after he had evolved to this point, how did the species reproduce? And are you saying that woman was created and man evolved? If I am understanding your theory, you are saying that other "humanids" existed but only one species evolved to the state of modern human beings, and the first one of these to acheive this sudden mutation was the Adam that God created in His image. If I'm wrong, please correct me.
But isn't it understood that evolution is a gradual process that occurs over millions of years? There shouldn't be a "sudden" mutation at all.
Also, what do you do with the story of the Garden of Eden and the fall? The Church teaches that the fall was due to the sin of Adam and Eve, and from those two specific persons, we all inherit original sin.

Br. Cadfael,
I'm sorry if I have offended you. It is honestly not my intention. I am really trying to understand how one can reconcile two very differing viewpoints. You stated that every Catholic must hold that we are descended from a single set of parents and that evolutionary theories that do not contradict this premise are permitted. My reading of Scripture (narrow as it may be) is that Adam and Eve were that single set of parents, created in the image of God with an eternal soul. They were not Neanderthal or Austrolopithicus, or any other primitive being, but were what we would recognize as modern homo sapiens. Perhaps that is just my view of things, but I believe I am not alone is seeing it this way. Now this is an honest question: Is there an evolutionary theory of humans that doesn't contradict the Adam and Eve of the Bible, and if so, what modern scientists are promoting it?

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

Let me take your comments in separate bites, including some directed to JR, as it might be easier to see what we agree on in that fashion:

"My reading of Scripture (narrow as it may be) is that Adam and Eve were that single set of parents, created in the image of God with an eternal soul. They were not Neanderthal or Austrolopithicus, or any other primitive being, but were what we would recognize as modern homo sapiens."

Agreed.

"[I]f God created a woman out of this man only after he had evolved to this point, how did the species reproduce?"

The same way we reproduce today. (I may be missing your point here.)

"And are you saying that woman was created and man evolved? If I am understanding your theory, you are saying that other 'humanids' existed but only one species evolved to the state of modern human beings, and the first one of these to acheive this sudden mutation was the Adam that God created in His image. If I'm wrong, please correct me."

I would respond only with a caveat that I do not understand J.R.'s theory to be the only or even necessarily the best theory on what actually might have happened (ie, the science of things). It is simply one alternative and an attempt to reconcile the findings of science with Revelation. I do not know whether and to what extent J.R.'s theory fits with the science that is known, but it does not contradict Revelation.

"But isn't it understood that evolution is a gradual process that occurs over millions of years? There shouldn't be a "sudden" mutation at all."

Now you are addressing the science aspect of it, which I cannot really address. There are many good scientists, I believe, who disagree on what the science says. You are not wrong in being hesitant to jump on board with one or another group of scientists.

The mistake -- and I think this is our main point of disagreement -- is in believing that adherence to one scientific theory over another is required by Revelation. If (big if) the theory endorses a single set of parents, uniquely created by God (in whatever method) in His image, with each and every soul immediately created by God, and with each and every descendant (other than Mary) inheriting original sin, the question of whether or not to reject it is more one of science than Revelation. To teach that Revelation requires more on that would be further than the Magisterium -- who alone has been entrusted the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God (CCC 85) -- has been willing to go.

"Also, what do you do with the story of the Garden of Eden and the fall? The Church teaches that the fall was due to the sin of Adam and Eve, and from those two specific persons, we all inherit original sin."

Agreed. Again, I see no problem here.

"Now this is an honest question: Is there an evolutionary theory of humans that doesn't contradict the Adam and Eve of the Bible, and if so, what modern scientists are promoting it?"

Yes. I am not familiar with the names of scientists involved in this debate -- I can tell you more (but not necessarily a lot) about the theologians involved. I have, for example, read stories from scientific journals that had absolutely no religious perspective, but maintained that the evidence for evolution from a single set of parents far outweighs the evidence for evolution from multiple parents.

Dan E.

Br. Cadfael,
Thanks for the explanations. I believe we have come to a reasonable agreement in that Adam and Eve are the first parents as described in Genesis and did not evolve from lesser beings. Point of clarification re. my question to JR, "...if God created a woman out of this man only after he had evolved to this point, how did the species reproduce?" He seemed to be saying that there was no woman until "Adam found no suitible companions in the animal society he lived in, so God then created a woman from this mans body..." Hence the question.
Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to be with and guide the Holy Father at this year's Shulerkreis. God bless you both.

J.R. Stoodley

Dan E.,

However, if God created a woman out of this man only after he had evolved to this point, how did the species reproduce?

As Br. Cadfael said, the same way they do now. Are you questioning how Eve was taken from Adam? That I don't know.

And are you saying that woman was created and man evolved?

Both of them were created. What we are discussing here is the method of creation. What we know is that God created Adam from the earth and Eve from Adam.

If I am understanding your theory, you are saying that other "humanids" existed but only one species evolved to the state of modern human beings, and the first one of these to acheive this sudden mutation was the Adam that God created in His image.

Yes, that is about what I am saying. Only, it was not "the first one of these to achieve this sudden mutation" it was the first to be born with the mutation. The mutation, and "sudden" is the only kind of mutation there is, would have occured in the body of one of the parents of this individual, in a cell that would give rise to one of the gametes that would fuse to become this new individual. The scientific explanation would hold that this mutation (or again it could be a series of mutations, or just pre-existing genes that needed to be in the right combination, but would recombination destroy that?) was the key factor. I would hold that the ensoulment is.

The ensoulment is the key part, but it seems to me that you need a distinct kind of body to have a specific kind of soul, therefore some physical difference between humans and proto-humans. Also a distinct physical form would seem necessary for there to be a distinct human nature.

But isn't it understood that evolution is a gradual process that occurs over millions of years? There shouldn't be a "sudden" mutation at all.

Again, the only kind of mutation is sudden. Most mutations are deleterious or neutral. Once in a while a helpful one comes along. Evolution is the changes in the genetic makup of a population over time. Given the differential success rates of organisms, those with genes that help them survive and reproduse more will pass there genes on with an (on average) greater success rate than those with inferior genes. Hence more useful genes are concentrated in the population over time. Other factors are involved in the change of allel ratios in a population over time, like genetic drift and bottle-necking. Non of these things can produce new allels (forms of genes) themselvs, they only work on the ratios of those allels in the population. Mutations, mistakes made in the copying of DNA, are required to produce new allels.

Of course, these mutations, as well as evolution, take place within the context of God's Providence and plan for the world, so an arguement can be made that he is responsible for each of them, either ordaning them or permiting them and bringing about a greater good from them. With the exception of mutations occuring within fallen man, I can not see God merely permiting any mutations since this would mean that the mutations were evil, thus he specifically ordains each mutation. In light of this the weak point of evolutionary theory (why so many essential beneficial mutations to bring about such compex life) is explained.

Also, what do you do with the story of the Garden of Eden and the fall? The Church teaches that the fall was due to the sin of Adam and Eve, and from those two specific persons, we all inherit original sin.

You accept it, that's what. The story does not automatically include that stuff, but it certainly does not exclude it. You can not expect the details of that history to be recorded in some African stone or the human body, so it is one of these things you can know from faith but not from science (but science can not disprove it, as it can not disprove anything supernatural).

You wrote to Brother Cadfael,

They were not Neanderthal or Austrolopithicus, or any other primitive being, but were what we would recognize as modern homo sapiens

Right. Like I said.

Is there an evolutionary theory of humans that doesn't contradict the Adam and Eve of the Bible, and if so, what modern scientists are promoting it?

The theory I gave, which is based on what scientists are saying, does not contradict the account of Adam and Eve in the bible, or at least Catholic doctrine concerning Adam and Eve and Genesis. You can not expect scientists to promote details like that Adam and Eve were immortal at first and them commited Original sin because there is understandibly no physical evidence of that.

As Brother Cadfael points out, my idea is just one of many possibilities. Another people give is that God took two non-human hominids (some unwisely I think will say "apes") removed their animal souls (killed them) and then gave them human souls. I don't buy that because it seems to say that there is not physical aspect to human nature, that two different kinds of souls can animate the same kind of body, and that Eve was not taken from Adam. Still it is another idea. I'm sure there are others.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

"I believe we have come to a reasonable agreement in that Adam and Eve are the first parents as described in Genesis and did not evolve from lesser beings."

Sometimes you are frustrating, but certainly in an amiable sort of way. We do not have any agreement that Adam and Eve did or did not evolve from lesser beings. That could certainly be the method by which Adam and/or Eve was created, with the other caveats I included above.

J.R. Stoodley

Dan E.

We posted past each other there.

I still don't understand your question. I was just giving a bit of a speculation about an extra meaning that can be given to the passage about Adam not finding a suitible companion amoung the animals. I like to think of this boy growing up and coming to a realization that he was different than the human looking creatures who raised him, until he became an adult and God created a human woman to be his wife. The bible and I think Catholic doctrine make it clear that the woman was taken from "her man." This makes marriage an even more perfect reflection of the trinity, in that you don't just have two equal people coming together in love producing a third equal person, but you have a first person, from whom comes the second person, and a thrid person comes from the love between the first two. I do not suppose to know precisely how Eve was taken from Adam. The only possibilities I can think of are direct intervention by God like the actual literal story or divinely-condoned beastiality with a proto-human female (comparable with the divinely condoned incest in the first generations after Adam, and in this senario between Adan and Eve if she was his daughter).

Does that answer your question? If not please exlain what you mean by "how did the species reproduce?"

Dan E.

JR,
This is really fascinating. You obviously understand biology far better than I, so I am interested in your point of view. Back to the mutation/ensoulment point: Is it your proposition that there was at one time a parent without the mutation who then gave birth to a child with the mutation? In other words, a mother, who was without the eternal soul, not created in the image of God, who had a child that was created in God's image, and this child was "Adam"? That has a lot of theological implications behind it.

Dan E.

I got it. Thanks for the explanation. It is rather sad to contemplate a theory which says that one person would be the pinnacle of God's creation with the hope an possibility of spending eternity in the blissful presence of his Creator while his parents were really no better than a common dog as far as salvation goes.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

"It is rather sad to contemplate a theory which says that one person would be the pinnacle of God's creation with the hope an possibility of spending eternity in the blissful presence of his Creator while his parents were really no better than a common dog as far as salvation goes."

Almost as sad as not having any parents at all? :)

J.R. Stoodley

Dan E.

Is it your proposition that there was at one time a parent without the mutation who then gave birth to a child with the mutation? In other words, a mother, who was without the eternal soul, not created in the image of God, who had a child that was created in God's image, and this child was "Adam"? That has a lot of theological implications behind it.

That's right, although the mutation is a secondary matter that makes sense to me but is not the heart of the matter. Ensoulment is. I'm not sure what theological implications you refer to.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

Please keep in mind that the progression in that example from non-man to Adam would not have been an unintended consequence. Adam would be, in every sense of the word, created by God, directly intended and/or willed by God.

This reminds me of the story about the man who is caught in the middle of the flood, and prays to be God to be rescued. As the waters are rising around his house, a policeman knocks on his door and pleads with him to leave for higher ground. "No thanks," is the response, "God will save me." A little while later, after the waters have risen near the top of the house and the man has climbed on the roof, a boat comes by. The would-be rescuer pleads with the man to get in the boat, but again he says, "No thanks, God will rescue me." Finally, when the waters are at the top of the roof, a helicopter comes and drops a ladder for the man to get on board. Again the man refuses to accept. "God will save me." After the man drowns he meets God and asks Him why He didn't come to rescue him. God, of course, responds, "I sent you a policeman, a boat and a helicopter."

In a similar vein, I can imagine someone coming before God after learning that evolution is true and saying, "But You said that YOU created us." "I did," says God, "I created you out of the hominids which I created out of the _____ which I created out of the ____________ which I created out of nothing."

Just as it would be wrong to say that God did not save the man in the first story, it would be wrong to say that God did not create man in the second story.

J.R. Stoodley

We thank God for providing us with food (and other things) but he did not just create the food out of nothing and put it in our hands. It was produced by solar energy transformed into chemical energy (or to follow the matter CO2 was taken up by plants or algae and then underwent various transformations) and then put into various forms, then brought by some economic system to our table.

The fact remains that God had truely, personally provided you with that food.

Dan E.

Theistic Evolution? I'm still not buying it. Why would God use what scientists describe as a series of random events (a little tweak here, followed by a slight tweak there, and then another tweak here) until he finally arrived at his masterpiece?

I guess we can't understand the "whys" of God, but I will continue to follow the teachings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (my emphasis between asterisks*):
Concerning the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis
June 30, 1909 (AAS 1 [1909] 567ff; EB 332ff; Dz 2121ff)
I: Do the various exegetical systems excogitated and defended under the guise of science to exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis rest on a solid foundation?
Answer: In the negative.

II: Notwithstanding the historical character and form of Genesis, the special connection of the first three chapters with one another and with the following chapters, the manifold testimonies of the Scriptures both of the Old and of the New Testaments, the almost unanimous opinion of the holy Fathers and the traditional view which the people of Israel also has handed on and the Church has always held, *may it be taught that: the aforesaid three chapters of Genesis Contain not accounts of actual events, accounts, that is, which correspond to objective reality and historical truth*, but, either fables derived from the mythologies and cosmogonies of ancient peoples and accommodated by the sacred writer to monotheistic doctrine after the expurgation of any polytheistic error; or allegories and symbols without any foundation in objective reality proposed under the form of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or finally legends in part historical and in part fictitious freely composed with a view to instruction and edification?
Answer: In the negative to both parts.

III: In particular *may the literal historical sense be called in doubt in the case of facts narrated in the same chapters which touch the foundations of the Christian religion: as are, among others, the creation of all things by God in the beginning of time; the special creation of man*; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original felicity of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given by God to man to test his obedience; the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent; the degradation of our first parents from that primeval state of innocence; and the promise of a future Redeemer?
Answer: In the negative.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

I will, as well, continue to follow the teaching of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Is there something in what you have posted that you think is contradicted by so-called theistic evolution?

My problem is not that you refuse to accept theistic evolution. It is that you seem to imply that it is contrary to Church teaching. That is simply not the case.

Dan E.

III: In particular may the *literal historical* sense be called in doubt in the case of facts narrated in the same chapters which touch the foundations of the Christian religion: as are, among others, *the creation of all things by God in the beginning of time*; the special creation of man...

It would seem difficult to me to reconcile evolution (theistic or atheistic) with the "literal historical" sense of Genesis, and with the creation by God of all things in the beginning of time. How can something be created at the beginning of time while at the same time be the result of millions of years of evolution?

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

Were you created at the beginning of time?

Dan E.

Of course not. The statement is not refering to each individual person being created at the beginning of time, but that man, in the form of Adam, was. In the same sense, I can look at a tree in my neighbor's yard and know that it is only ten years old, but I know that trees were created at the beginning of time.

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

So does "all things" really mean the "form of all things" then?

Dan E.

I don't know what you mean when you say the "form of all things."
When the Pontifical Commission says God created all things at the beginning of time, I don't think they are including a different "form" of man, ie. Neanderthal, especially when they specify in the very next phrase the special creation of man.

Brother Cadfael

But wasn't man created on the sixth day? Isn't that literally after the beginning of time?

Dan E.

I see where you are going with this. I think you are trying to squeeze blood from a rock.

The Pontifical Commission was, from my reading, repudiating the very theories you are espousing. That is why they begin:
I: Do the various exegetical systems excogitated and defended under the guise of science to exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis rest on a solid foundation?
Answer: In the negative.

They do not allow us to "call into doubt" the "literal historical sense" of the facts narrated in the first three chapters of Genesis.

Theistic evolution, to me, seems to be an "exegetical system excogitated and defended under the guise of science to exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis."

Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

Theistic evolution -- as outlined above -- is perfectly compatible with the literal historical sense of Genesis 1-3, and with the Pontifical Biblical Commission's statements you have referenced.


Brother Cadfael

I'm giving up on italics -- can never figure out how to turn them off.

J.R. Stoodley

Itallics off

J.R. Stoodley

you typed i instaid of /i again Brother. It needs to be i the first time and /i the second time.

Howard

Check out some good Orthodox Jewish explanations on:

www.askmoses.com

also some real spiritual info on

www.inner.org


Kabbalah and Scientific Progress


Science Versus Torah?
It is often asked how the Torah deals with empirically proven scientific discoveries that seem to contradict the traditional teachings of Judaism.

Some of the most blatant of these apparent contradictions are paramount in astronomy. For instance, we find that in the Torah the universe is considered geocentric, with all the heavenly bodies, the sun, the stars and the moon revolving around the earth, whereas modern science clearly teaches that the earth is actually revolving around the sun, the solar system being heliocentric.

Until Copernicus, the scientific view of the earth corresponded to the Torah's point of view. The earth was considered static and the whole universe revolved around the earth-center. However, Copernicus proved empirically that the sun is actually the center of the universe and we on earth, together with the other planets, are moving around the sun-center. This new angle is probably the most significant change of perspective that science has offered in all of history and at first glance it apparently presents a challenge to the Torah perspective. The way that Kabbalah and Hassidism deal with questions such as these is unique, as the following anecdote illustrates, beautifully capturing the relationship between science and the Torah's view of scientific discovery, especially scientific innovations that seem to change the way people relate to the universe.

Although Copernicus, initiated heliocentricity and totally negated geocentricity with his mathematical equations, this new theory did not reach the general public until several centuries later, in the time of one of the great Hassidic masters, the Ruzhiner Rebbe.

When disciples of the Holy Ruzhiner, as he is called in Chabad tradition, heard of this apparently heretical scientific discovery that had turned the world inside-out, as it were, they brought the news to their Rebbe, probably anticipating his absolute denial that such a phenomenon could ever be reconciled with true Torah teachings and that anyone who believed such a thing was an heretic.

However his reaction was very unusual. When he was informed of this, the Holy Ruzhiner remained completely composed and his response was a very special one. He said that whether the earth revolves around the sun or the sun revolves around the earth depends on the service of the tzaddikim, the righteous Jews of the generation. The answer to the question of "What revolves around what?" is not an absolute answer. If, for instance, the tzaddikim in this generation would serve God in a manner in which it would be correct to see Pluto as the center of the solar system, then in some mysterious way scientific discoveries would adapt to reflect that change.

This reply is a revolutionary thought that suggests that in truth there is no debate between Torah and science; rather it is an open field in which the Torah influences science's perspective on physical reality. Moreover, we will see that our understanding of science can actually offer us greater insight into Torah principles.

The service of the tzaddik influences the way science perceives the world because in the eyes of the tzaddik, the earth and the sun etc. are all merely symbols that represent his service of God. The verse in Psalms reads, "The sun and its shield are GOD [Havayah, God's essential Name] God [Elokim]." From this verse we can clearly see that the sun and its shield represent two different aspects of God in some way, Havayah, the essential Name of God corresponds to the center of the sun, while the Name Elokim corresponds to the sun's shield. The Name Elokim is the only Name of God that is used throughout the story of creation and its numerical value in Hebrew (86) equals the value of hateva, "nature"; Elokim is the revelation of the supernatural, essential Name of God (Havayah) as it appears in nature. Just as the sun's shield can be observed and studied physically, so too we can observe the direct effects of God, Elokim as they manifest in nature. The actual sun within its shield cannot be measured at all and therefore alludes to God's Essential Name, Havayah. The Torah thus identifies the two dimensions of Divinity, the supernatural dimension and the natural dimension, as the sun and its shield. Similarly, the other celestial bodies, including the earth, can be identified as symbols of creation itself.

A Case of Perspectives
Accordingly, the variation between geocentricism and heliocentricism can be compared to a difference between a service of God that sees man (on earth) as the center, with God, as it were, revolving around man and caring for all of man's needs; or perceiving God as the center, whereby man is obligated to God and His commandments. This philosophical perspective is well-illustrated by a second story.

There was once a Hassidic fund-raiser who set out to raise funds for a worthy cause. Knowing that in certain towns the Misnagdim (opposers of Hassidism) who lived there did not welcome Hassidim, who were considered a near-heretic cult, the Hassid took pains to disguise his Hassidic behavior, realizing that otherwise he would be thrown out of town without a penny. On passing through one such town, he posed as usual as a misnaged. His disguise paid off and he received generous donations, however one of the leaders of the community got inkling that maybe this fundraiser was actually a hassid. In order to try to discover his real identity, he went over to the hassid and asked him very bluntly, "What do you have to say about this Hassidic cult?" The hassid thought for a moment and replied, "The cult? I know some of those hassidim, all day long they think and talk about themselves, and they don't talk about God at all. The misnagdim, though, they think and talk about God all day and they never talk about themselves." This answer pleased the community leader very much and he gave him an additional contribution. Once the hassid had received all the money and was ready to leave town, he called the man over and said, "I'll explain now what I really meant before when I replied to your question. You see, for Hassidim, it is obvious that God exists, God is an axiom, the question they ask is 'Do I exist?' So all day long they are contemplating whether or not they exist, because God certainly exists. But for a misnaged, the opposite is true, the fact that he exists is obvious to him, but whether or not God exists, that is the question, maybe God never existed? If God exists is He present in my life? Is there Divine Providence? The misnaged questions this all day long, so he is always thinking about God. That is what I meant." The hassid then took to his heels and ran off as fast as his legs would carry him.... This story clearly illustrates two different perspectives of our Divine service relative to our Creator. The contemporary debate whether or not there is an Intelligent Designer to the universe, exactly pinpoints the position of the general public in America today. In Hassidic terminology this is called, "elokut behitchadshut" meaning that God is a conscious novelty, for were it not so, then God would be taken for granted and man would be questioning his own existence. Hassidism offers the reverse perspective, seeing God as being obvious while man's own existence is a constant novelty, my own experience of existence is not the core of reality; it is merely some exterior shell that hides the true essence of reality, which is God.

The Hassidic perspective is looking at reality from God's point of view, so to speak, which is termed da'at elyon, the Divine, higher perspective, where God exists and all of creation is virtually nothing and God re-creates reality at every moment. Whereas the other point of view that sees the world from the position of mankind is called da'at tachton, the lower perspective. From this perspective, God is imperceptible – not that He does not exist – He is merely intangible to our senses and is so hidden from us that we have to constantly remind ourselves of His existence. This gives rise to the intellectual question, "Is there a Designer?" since we will never be able to know Him. We may be able to logically conclude that there must be an Intelligent Designer to the universe but even so, the most we will be able to do is to believe that He exists from this lower perspective of reality.

Two Torah Perspectives
Until Copernicus, as we have mentioned, there was no dispute between Torah and science as to what revolved around what. According to the Holy Ruzhiner, there must have been some change in the way the tzaddikim in Copernicus' time served God that affected the way science perceived the universe. As we are beginning to outline in this article, the Torah also has two different perspectives, these are nigleh, the revealed level of the Torah, and nistar, the hidden level of the Torah. Nigleh is da'at tachton, the lower perspective of the Torah which includes the Bible and all its commentaries, the Talmud and general practicable Torah law, while nistar is da'at elyon, the higher perspective of the Torah that includes Kabbalah and the more esoteric teachings of Jewish mysticism.

Through their service of God, the tzaddikim who diligently study the higher perspective of the Torah, succeed in raising themselves out of the lower, egocentric perspective on reality and begin to see how God perceives the world. This type of service only became available to the general public in the time of the Arizal, and even more so later, in the time of the Ba'al Shem Tov.

The Arizal, Rabbi Isaac Luria, was the outstanding Torah leader who lived in the time of Copernicus. Until the time of the Arizal, study of the holy writings of the Kabbalah was forbidden except by a choice few. Kabbalah had always existed and those who studied nigleh, even though they did not study the Kabbalah, were well-aware of its existence, but it was forbidden to expose the teachings of Jewish mysticism, the inner dimension of the Torah. However, the Arizal received permission from on High to publicize the teachings of Kabbalah and he said that it was a positive commandment to do so, as long as the student fulfilled certain conditions. Later on, the Ba'al Shem Tov released the study of the inner dimension of the Torah to the general public, with the aim of illuminating the world with the inner soul of the Torah in order to hasten the redemption.

Here we are beginning to see how Copernicus' scientific innovation coincided with the opening of new horizons offered by the Arizal. The fact that Copernicus' discovery did not become public until over a century later, can be seen to coincide with the Ba'al Shem Tov, who lived at that time and removed even more restrictions from the study of Kabbalah, the actual meeting between the two becoming apparent in the anecdote about the Holy Ruzhiner, who was the great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov's foremost disciple and successor, the Maggid of Mezeritch. To summarize these stages, we will say that the sun is a symbol of Godliness, something static and unchangeable, while the earth represents a consciousness of change, constant adaptation to the one given, absolute reality and absolute truth.

Even though all our human senses perceive the earth as being static and the sun revolving around the earth, modern physics, beginning with Copernicus, comes to teach us that in actual fact, man is not the center of the universe. In contrast to the general geocentric-egocentric trend of mankind, even according to Einstein's first version of the specific theory of relativity, it was still not possible to prove or write equations for the sun revolving around the earth, and it is infinitely more simple to describe the sun as the center of the universe. Yet if God created man in such a way that he can only experience the world as being heliocentric, then there is obviously some legitimacy to da'at tachton. This legitimacy manifests scientifically in Einstein's second theory, the general theory of relativity, which proves that it is possible to represent the earth or the sun as being the center of the universe.

A God of Two Perspectives
Although the human scientist may have a problem reconciling this apparent paradox in which two contradictory hypotheses are in force simultaneously, God has no difficulty in doing so. God Himself is called nimna hanimnot, the Paradox of all paradoxes, and in Hannah's song of thanksgiving she declares, Kel deiot Havayah, "GOD is a God of perspectives ." Since the word deiot appears in the plural, with no specific number affixed to it, we follow the general rule of the Torah in such cases and assume that it refers to the minimum plural – two. From here we understand that God simultaneously possesses two perspectives, two levels of consciousness or two ways of knowing His creation. He knows creation as being nothing, looking at it from on High, yet He is not limited to being God on High. While He perceives the whole of creation, man included, as nothing, He is simultaneously present in our psyches, which are also "an actual part of God above." God is simultaneously both infinite and finite!

God's ability to simultaneously contain both extremes of an absolute paradox is one of the most profound concepts in Torah and Kabbalah which until Einstein could not be illustrated on the physical plane. However, the Holy Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin preempted Einstein by a few decades with his own statement of relativity, "Whether the universe is geocentric or heliocentric, depends on the service of the great righteous Jews of the generation."

New Vessels for Old
Copernicus' new discovery not only inverted man's perspective on the solar system, it also paved the way for the discovery of new planets. In ancient times seven celestial bodies in the heavens were considered to be in motion, revolving around the static earth. They are the sun, the moon and the five visible planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The three planets that have been discovered in the past three centuries, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, are all invisible to the naked eye. Now, every phenomenon in the world, whether psychological, physical, celestial or in the cosmos, the micro-cosmos, or any other natural system, possesses a Kabbalistic model, corresponding to very basic Kabbalistic frames of reference, the most important of which is the ten sefirot, the ten channels of creation. These ten sefirot are also the ten powers of the soul: three intellectual powers and seven emotive powers. As such, the seven visible, moving celestial bodies were identified with certain sefirot. Kabbalah accepted this perspective and based its teachings upon it – as the Ruzhiner said, that was the way that the tzaddikim served God in their own consciousness at that time – and a very definite model was given as to which planet corresponds to which sefirah. Seven is a very important number, as we are taught that "all sevenths are beloved," and God created the world in such a way that we perceive seven bodies moving in the sky and they correspond in a one-to-one correspondence to seven different powers.

Now, modern day astronomers have reached a different vision of the whole solar system and there is no difficulty in representing this new perspective in corresponding terms. If now tzaddikim serve God in such a way that there are nine, or even ten powers involved in their service of God, then the whole solar system is seen in a different way and this change necessitates outlining a new model that explains that change. If scientists would discover that in actual fact the whole universe is inside-out or upside-down, then this could be explained and depicted by some other Kabbalistic model. Therefore, the inner dimension of the Torah sees no conflict with scientific discoveries of any generation.

We will emphasize once again the most important point of this article: changes in human perception and understanding of the universe depend on our service of the Almighty and once this change affects our perspective of the universe, it is merely a matter of finding the correct Kabbalistic model to describe the system under consideration.

In our case, the addition of three more planets and the innovation of a heliocentric solar system actually improve the previous model of seven, for now all ten sefirot are included in the model, as opposed to the previous model which included only seven sefirot.

Whereas Ptolemy's mathematics of the way the sun and the planets all revolved around the earth was tremendously complex, using cycles and semi-cycles to describe the motion in a very complicated manner, Einstein's statement of E=mc2 is a simple equation and that is the sign of true genius for true genius is recognized by its simplicity. Genius is to be able to conceive and to express profound insights of truth in very simple statements. However, Keats was not the first to claim that truth and beauty are interchangeable, for in the Zohar we are taught that the sefirah of tiferet, beauty, is the attribute of our forefather Jacob, of whom it says, "Give truth to Jacob," so when we see something that is as beautifully simple as the fact that the earth is revolving around the sun, we know that it must, in some way be closer to the truth than a more complex illustration of the same idea. Similarly, the discovery of three new planets creates a new and more beautiful model for the universe which is far simpler than the old model.

A World of Knowledge and Lovingkindness
According to our new model the sun is in the place of keter, the super-conscious crown; Mercury represents chochmah, wisdom; and Venus is binah, understanding. This then brings us to our planet earth. Although the sefirah that comes after binah is da'at, when counting the ten sefirot including keter, da'at is usually not included and chesed, loving-kindness, is the sefirah that follows binah. In our case, since there are ten celestial bodies including the sun, we would expect the earth to be in the position of chesed. This is in accordance with the verse in Psalms, "A world of loving-kindness will be constructed." Nonetheless, there is a third power that serves as a bridge between the mind and the heart that is da'at, consciousness itself. Thus according to this model, the planet earth, being the third planet that revolves around the sun, has two aspects to it.

In accordance with this idea, we find that in Hebrew, there are two synonyms for the earth, both of which appear in the verse in Psalms 24, "To GOD is the earth (ha'aretz) and all that fills it, the terrestrial planet (tevel) and all that inhabit it." Whenever there are two words for the same concept in Hebrew, we are taught that each of them has its own specific connotation or meaning to it. In this case, ha'aretz, the earth, refers to the physical planet earth, whereas the second word, tevel, refers specifically to a planet inhabited by intelligent beings.

Similarly, we find in the Zohar that there are two opinions mentioned why God created the world. The first reason is in order that there be intelligent beings that are able to be conscious of God's existence. The other reason mentioned is in order to express His goodness and loving-kindness by the creation of beings who are able to emulate His goodness and loving-kindness to one another and to all creatures on earth. This means that we have two basic missions to carry out on this planet: 1. To become conscious of God and 2. To emulate His loving-kindness to all of mankind, to animals and to the whole of creation.

In our present analysis of the solar system these two qualities are manifest in the position of the earth as the third planet that revolves around the sun, which represents the keter, placing the earth in either the position of da'at, corresponding to the human ability to be conscious of God, or chesed, corresponding to the human ability to emulate and manifest God's power of loving-kindness.

This brings us to the planet Mars which, being red, is clearly suited to the attribute of gevurah, might or severe judgment. Mars is the common point of contact between the old model and the new model, since according to both opinions, Mars corresponds to gevurah. However, in this present analysis it is much clearer that Mars does indeed correspond to the sefirah of gevurah, because of its position directly after the earth which has the position of chesed.

Next is Jupiter, or in Hebrew tzedek, meaning justice. Science currently knows that if Jupiter would be just a little bigger, it would possess significant mass to be a luminary sun in its own rights. In Kabbalah, one of the ways of dividing the sefirot is by dividing them into two groups of five in which the first five parallel the last five. In this model we can definitely see how this quality of Jupiter almost being a sun corresponds with this division, as Jupiter is the first of the second set of five, while the sun itself is the first of the first group of five.

The next planet Saturn, corresponds to netzach, victory, which leaves us with the three new planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which then correspond respectively to hod, yesod and malchut, as shown in the following table.

To summarize: The Sun Keter – Crown Mercury Chochmah – Wisdom Venus Binah – Understanding Earth Da'at – Knowledge, or Chesed – Loving-kindness Mars Gevurah – Might Jupiter Tiferet – Beauty Saturn Netzach – Victory Uranus Hod – Thanksgiving Neptune Yesod – Foundation Pluto Malchut - Kingdom

A Naming Game
The Torah, especially its inner dimension, Kabbalah, is called sha'ashuim, delights, indicating that for God, the Torah is like a game. One part of the game that has been conferred upon man is creating a language by which new things that are discovered can be named. The first activity of Adam, the first conscious being, was to name each of the creatures that God brought before him to be named. Similarly, we are taught that the Messiah will invent new words, obviously based on the permutations of known Hebrew roots. From this we can see that a human has the innate ability to name new things that he sees around him and he has the insight to give them the correct name. Since God creates the world through His ten lights which are the sefirot and the 22 vessels which are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the correct name for an article is the word whose Hebrew letters in that particular combination and permutation serve as the channel of the article's continual re-creation.

On being presented with three new planets, as yet unnamed in Hebrew, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, we can suggest Hebrew names for them based on their positions in the sefiriotic tree and the inner meaning of their corresponding sefirot. Uranus could then be called Tam, a conjugate of the root of temimut, simplicity, the inner sense of the sefirah of hod. Amitai would be the name for Neptune, in accordance with the inner sense of the sefirah of yesod – emet, truth; while Pluto would receive the name Shaful, from the root of shiflut, lowliness, the inner sense of the final sefirah, malchut.

A Three-Step Development Process
Returning to the question of heliocentricism versus geocentricism, we can see a definite development in the changes of thought that follows the three-step Hassidic development process of submission, separation, and sweetening. Perhaps Copernicus was unaware of it (or perhaps he did indeed intend to prevail over the church to a certain extent, which he certainly succeeded in doing), but he initiated a revolutionary development, or we could even call it a positive mutation of consciousness. He brought mankind out of an egocentric perspective on reality and gave us a little submission. He replaced universal egocentricity with a phase of cosmic humility by teaching us that we should not feel that we are the center of reality and that everything is revolving around us. Prior to Copernicus it was as if man had invented God, as it were, and his inversion of perspective was a definite progression from that primitive state in which God was almost man's personal possession.

Since Einstein's general theory of relativity, it may seem that it has once more become possible to relapse into acceptance of this primitive, egocentric perspective. However, it is actually a progression in development as we now see that both perspectives can be true, depending on which way one is looking at it. The general theory of relativity offers the option of geocentricity or heliocentricity, without distinguishing between them in terms of correctness; either can be correct. This began a stage of separation in which the scientist is able to choose which opinion best suits his needs. For instance, since it is far simpler to explain the motion of the planets etc. by heliocentrism, this is what is still taught in elementary school, whereas a seasoned student of physics will be able to grasp the complex mathematics of the renewed opinion of geocentrism.

When progressing from one point of consciousness to another, we often discover that the new perspective seems to totally negate the first one (submission), only to discover later that the first perspective is also a valid one (separation). Sweetening occurs when we discover a concealed level of the first perspective that is even higher than the second level of perspective. In terms of geocentrism and heliocentrism; geocentricity is an egocentric and primitive system, whereas heliocentricity transcends geocentricity, totally contradicting it. Relativity claims that either perspective is valid, in which case the stage of sweetening has yet to come, perhaps in the form of a new set of equations that will prove geocentricity more efficiently and neatly than the available mathematics, without contradicting heliocentrism in the slightest.

Three Levels of Consciousness – The Power to Bring God Down to Earth
Since everything depends on the way the tzaddikim serve God, we can further our understanding by using this idea as a parable. If one perceives the world as if God is revolving around him, so to speak, that is self-worship, as if one's ego has invented God.

The animal soul that is common to both Jews and non-Jews is man's lower egocentric consciousness, which we call mudaut atzmit, self-consciousness, the sense of thinking that I am the center and everything else revolves around me and seeing everything as a reflection of my own imaginary self-image. We must step out of that perspective, bringing our egos to a state of total submission, and realize that we are merely servants orbiting around their Master, attentive to His every desire, our own needs being totally insignificant.

One of our missions in living on the "planet of conscious beings" is to transcend that perspective of experiencing the sun moving around the earth or God existing to serve our needs and to reach a state of mudaut Elokit, "Divine consciousness," in which we are constantly aware of the Creator creating a new universe ex-nihilo. This stage is an ongoing process of separation by which we come to the conclusion that we are actually nothing and that God, the true Something, is re-creating the illusion of our existence at every moment.

A true tzaddik reaches the stage of sweetening; a third stage at which God grants him a certain extent of power over God Himself. In the Talmud we are taught that a true servant of God has the power to nullify God's own decrees and he also has the power to pronounce a decree that God will fulfill. God's greatest pleasure is when his children beat Him at His own game, as it were, and He smiles and says, "My children have won over Me!" But only a true son of God, a true tzaddik can reach this level. After having reached the stage at which God is obvious, bipshitut, and he is behitchadshut, constantly questioning his own existence, then the tzaddik is miraculously given the power to triumph over God. This final state is called mudaut tivit, "natural consciousness," which is a state of living Divinity – living as a part of God by allowing that part of the soul which is an actual part of God to direct our lives, as the verse states, "I have said that you are God, and all of you are sons of the Supreme." At this stage we are able to control God's decrees or to decree ourselves, in a natural way.

Two Types of Tzaddikim
The ongoing dispute between God and the true tzaddik is over things which appear to be bad in our lives, but from God's point of view they are actually for our own good, because everything that God does is for the best. From God's perspective even intense suffering that is being inflicted upon us is all for the good, although we do not experience that goodness. Once the tzaddik has reached the level of absolute knowledge, having completely negated his egocentric tendencies (the submission stage, corresponding to the initiation of heliocentricity that completely negated geocentricity), he is now conscious of God's hidden motives to a certain extent (separation; seeing the earth either from the perspective of the sun or from an earthly perspective); or at least he realizes that all the suffering is for the best, even though he may not know how. However, the true tzaddik is not willing to remain at this stage of development and is not willing to accept such affliction; instead he represents the Jewish people in exile before God and beseeches Him to stop their suffering, proving his concern for their physical welfare.

It is then that God gives the tzaddik the power to return to the earthly, geocentric perspective and to control God, making Him revolve around the earth, by sweetening His decree, and this is God's greatest pleasure. This is the difference between Noah and Abraham. Noah did not develop to the stage at which he prayed for the decree to be annulled. He accepted that if God wished to destroy the world in a flood, then it must be good, so he just let it happen, without praying for his generation. This is why he was not chosen to be the founder of the Jewish nation.

Abraham was the first Jew because he not only transcended his primary egocentric status to have complete faith in God; he remained human enough to care for the physical welfare of his contemporaries, as God Himself desires. Nonetheless, the tzaddik does not always win, however hard he tries, for if that was the case then the redemption would already have been here long ago.

The Wedding of Torah and Science
There are some things which are beyond our scope, of which it says, "Do not investigate things that are incredible to you." From this article we can see how we can gain insights into the more profound teachings of the Torah by contemplating phenomena that were once totally incredible, such as the fact that the earth may be revolving around the sun and that there are more planets in the solar system than the eye can see.

As a whole, science represents da'at tachton, the lower perspective, whose innovations are based solely upon empirical observations. Kabbalah represents da'at elyon, the higher perspective that may seem to contradict the lower perspective at times. However, new scientific discoveries may in fact offer us new models of reality that are better than the old ones and more adept to fit the Kabbalistic view of reality.

The Torah perspective on science also enhances our understanding of science; Kabbalah offers a conceptual model that views the various macrocosmic discoveries of science as a microcosm of the universe. When studied as a parable to our own perception and psyches, these models may and should have an educational effect upon us, thus superseding the amoral standpoint that science claims to hold (and the often immoral conclusions that it reaches as a result of its amorality).

Ultimately, Kabbalah and science are interdependent, even though they are currently experienced separately, as we have seen that the service of the tzaddik influences the way science perceives the universe. Once science matures enough to desire the connection between the two perspectives, the time will come for the marriage between the two to take place.

It is not long before science will come to discover that the whole of the universe, the macro-cosmos and the micro-cosmos at all their levels, has one unified structure that is the signature of God. Kabbalah is the key to recognizing that signature.

Sarah

A Clever answer on Evolution v. Creation (ism?)--

Torah and science can never contradict each other, because two truths cannot be contradictory. When we find an apparent contradiction between the two, it is generally due to a misunderstanding regarding what one is saying.
Science cannot really prove the age of the universe. All that scientists can do is speculate about the age of the universe by extrapolating from observed phenomena. No scientist alive today can say that he or she has first-hand information regarding the beginning of the universe.

The Torah tells us how old the universe is.

Science tells us how old the universe seems to be.


The scientist that does not believe in G-d has no reason to assume that the age of the world is different than what it appears to be To give a simple example: how old was Adam when he was first created? Was he a baby? Young man? Old man?
Our sages tell us that he had the body and maturity of a 20-year-old man. Now, let us imagine Adam going for a medical exam a day after he was created. The receptionist asks for his age and he answers: “one day”. “You must be kidding me,” she would reply. “You seem to be at least 20 years old!”

They are both right. Adam is saying how old he really is, while the receptionist is estimating his age based on “scientific proof.”

The scientist that does not believe in G-d has no reason to assume that the age of the world is different than what it appears to be. The one who believes in G-d, however, can perfectly accept the fact that the world was created in a mature state and therefore does not contradict the fact that it is really younger than it seems to be.

Isaac on Evolution

In the first chapter of Tanya, R. Shneur Zalman expounds upon two forces which create the spiritual dynamic at work in every Jew: the Divine Soul, that portion of G-d's Essence resident within us which impels the Jew to transcend his physical nature, and the Animal Soul, the force behind man's creaturely emotions and instincts that binds him to the material realm.) The Animal Soul is alternatively called the "Vital Soul" or the "Natural Soul"). Intimated in Tanya as well, though more explicitly elaborated in later writings of Chassidut, is the existence of an intermediate force called the Intelligent Soul which seeks to edify and elevate the Animal Soul by filtering natural experience through the prism of human reason. (Whereas the Divine Soul is an exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people, the other two souls are universal in nature - defining psychic parameters for all mankind. Nevertheless, subtle but significant differences do exist in the way the Intelligent Soul is manifested by the Jew.) According to Chassidic doctrine, Abraham began his journey of faith by refining the emunah inherent within his Animal Soul and Intelligent Soul. Once perfected, he acquired a whole new complex of spiritual powers known as the Divine Soul. So completely did he incorporate these powers into his being, that the Divine Soul immediately became a genetic characteristic that he was able to bequeath to succeeding generations of Jews after him.

These three varieties of soul, though unique and often disparate in their individual characters, nevertheless possess a common internal structure. This reflects a general principle of Chassidut (paraphrased from Kohelet 7:14): G-d has acted so as that differing dimensions of reality actually reflect each other. As such, the Animal Soul can be assumed to possess a level of emunah parallel to that found in the Divine Soul- as is the case as well with the Intelligent Soul.

Once one attains the true emunah of the Divine Soul, all lesser forms of faith appear nothing more than mere superstition. Nevertheless, even a deficient level of faith can preside over an ensemble of related spiritual forces. Consequently, the levels of emunah native to the Animal Soul and the Intelligent Soul must be seen as possessing an integrity of their own, as they serve to advance the soul toward the true emunah of the Divine Soul.

The following might serve as an outline of this evolution in faith:

The Animal Soul produces emunah in the power of the Self.

This is the level of emunah which must be cultivated during the formative stages of man's exploring his native capacities of self. If missing, severe disturbances of identity result, leaving the individual with a marked sense of his own impotence and egoweakness.

In isolation of higher emunah, faith in Self can lead to the paradigmatic conceit portrayed Biblically by the self-promoting proclamation "my strength and the might of my hand produced for me this success" (Deuteronomy 8:17). When accompanied, however, by faith in the Divine derivation of one's soul, confidence in Self need no longer supplant one's trust in G-d. In fact, it can provide a legitimate, if not essential, basis for realizing spiritual growth - as evident from the verse's continuation: "and remember G-d your L-d, that He is the One who grants you the power to prosper". The achievements are still yours, as are the powers that produced them; simply acknowledge the Source that invested you with those powers. [This idea is evident from the words of King David: 'Render unto Him that which is His, for both you and yours come from Him'; also, he said: 'for everything derives from You, and from Your own hand comes that which we now give You'(Chronicles I 29:14).]

The Intelligent Soul produces emunah in the power of the intellect.

This level of emunah comprises the source of man's faith in Science and Reason. It represents the belief that the mind, in its ever-evolving capacity to grasp the complexity of existence, ultimately enables one to contend with life's most vexing challenges.

There is an element of humility and selflessness in the genuine pursuit of truth and knowledge which renders this variety of faith a more refined and valued one than that associated with the Animal Soul. Its attendant negation of irrational belief can even serve to enhance one's comprehension of matters Divine - as in the rationalist faith advocated by the Rambam. Nevertheless, it can never supplant the emunah of the Divine Soul which alone enables the soul to positively confirm its own supra-conscious descent from the realm of Divine Essence.

The Divine Soul produces true emunah in One G-d.

This is the level of emunah which can only be reached by way of experiencing the naked solitude of one's being. Whereas the cultivation of emunah in Self and Reason focuses on traits of character and intelligence which are common to all men, nurturing emunah in G-d leads one to the mysterious root of his singular and unique soul. From that root, emunah in one's Divine origins proceeds to enhance the lesser forms of faith that attach to human experience.

The Therapeutic Effect of Belief in Creation Ex-Nihilo

The foundational work of Chabad Chassidut - the Tanya - has been described as a 'book of suggestions for remedying maladies of the soul'. In the section entitled Igeret Hakodesh Chapter 11, its author - the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi - addresses the effect of inadequate or misplaced emunah, faith, on one's psychological state of being. Specifically concerned with he who invests excessive faith in material security and well-being, and as a result despairs when he cannot achieve it, the Tanya opines:

"This matter can only be remedied by true faith in He who formed the beginning of all things; through the belief that creation ex-nihilo...takes place at every interval and at every moment, that all created things come into being ex-nihilo out of His blessed Wisdom which enlivens all. And when man contemplates with the depth of his understanding, and sketches in his mind, the idea of his own being emerging out of nothingness at each and every moment - how can he entertain the thought that his life is baneful or beset with affliction (be it with regard to children, health, livelihood or any other area)?

Behold, the realm of Nothingness - synonymous with His blessed Wisdom - is the source of life, goodness, and delight; it is the Eden that exists beyond even the World to Come. Only because [this realm] cannot be comprehended, does it appear to one that there is evil and affliction. In truth, however, evil does not descend from Above; everything is really goodness - only it is not conceived as such due to the enormity and grandness of His beneficence.

This is the essence of faith for which man was created - to believe that there is no place empty of Him, that we all dwell in the aura of the King's countenance, and that fortitude and rapture come in His wake since He is only goodness all the day.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that man be happy and rejoice at every interval and hour, and that he truly live with faith in G-d who enlivens him and bestows him with goodness at every moment. And he who brings himself to sadness and grief, showing himself to be possessed of misery and affliction and lacking in some quality of goodness, behold he is likened to a heretic, G-d forbid, and that is why the trait of melancholy is so reviled in the esoteric tradition.

The believer, however, will not despair at the apparent affliction in the world; all matters of this world - good and bad - are received by him with absolute equanimity. He who does not possess such equanimity shows himself to be of the "mixed multitude" who worship only themselves...and it would be better for him had he not been born.

For man's creation in this world is essentially for the purpose of testing him with these ordeals, and to discover that which is in his heart: if it turns toward other gods, i.e cravings of the body that derive from the "other side", or if his true will and desire is to live the authentic life that derives from the "living G-d"...

And if he believes that he genuinely lives by these Divine forces, and that all his needs and affairs do truly emanate in all their detail - not from the "other side" - but from "the Lord who plans man's every step"; if so - it follows that everything is essentially for the good, albeit not always apprehended that way.

And by virtue of this faith, everything indeed does achieve goodness - even outwardly; for by acknowledging that apparent evil derives its existence entirely from the Supreme Good that is His blessed and unfathomable Wisdom - the Eden above the World to Come - behold, through such faith, the apparent evil does truly become elevated and subsumed within the hidden Supreme Good."

In short, the Tanya suggests that the emunah achievable through contemplation of creation ex-nihilo attaches man to his source in "Divine Nothingness." Prior to attaining this level of emunah, man dwells in the shadow of the cosmic "shattering" of reality that resulted in our attributing autonomy to the material realm and to the forces of evil which are often associated with it. By perfecting his emunah, however, man can begin to see the blind tyranny of evil and suffering as a distortion of consciousness produced when one is insufficiently infused with faith in the Divine origins of physical existence.

Emunah leads one to the realization that the Divine Nothingness existing beyond our fractured reality represents the ultimate source of all things in absolute goodness. This universal point- of-origin, also known as the 'source of all delight', is what the Ba'al HaTanya refers to as the "Eden above the World-to-Come". So beyond our present reality is this dimension, that the only way it can be conceptually described is as "Nothingness". When experienced, however, the Divine Nothingness reflects the existence of a wholly unqualified standard of virtue in the universe - an essential and absolute quality of goodness at the core of all being.

Ape Man

De-evolution of the Human -
A Mystical View on Primates

Q: My question concerns the de evolution of the human to the level of primate. Can you explain if this occurred in concert with the y'reidah of Adam Harishon, his progeny or others? Will the ape receive a tikkun ("rectification") at the time of Mashiach and if so will it be as high as the tikkun of man? Thank you for any insight that you have time to impart on this fascinating topic.


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A: The Midrash as well as Rishonim and Acharonim teach that after the sin of Adam Harishon ("Adam"), and especially after the sin of Cain (Kayin), the progeny of Kayin degenerated into apes. Kabbalah teaches us that every rectification of the soul of Kayin is the rectification of the potential monkey.

According to the Arizal, the two basic soul roots of the human race are Kayin and Abel. The rectification of all the soul roots in the human race who are the spiritual descendants, although not necessarily the physical descendants, of Kayin, is the rectification of the ape. The soul root of Kayin is generally the left. The soul root of Abel is generally the right. All the souls who derive from the left are Kayin, ape-potential souls. There are also great tzadikim (righteous ones) whose soul root is Kayin. Through their Divine service and spiritual rectification comes the rectification of the ape.

The word "Kayin" itself begins with the letter kuf, the nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which also means kof ("ape"). The meaning of the word kof is "imitation", particularly a false or degenerate form of imitation. The English word "copy" derives from the Hebrew kof. There is also the English idiom, "Monkey see, monkey do," which again suggests imitation.

Our Sages also use the idiom kof bifnei adam, "like a monkey in the face of man," in reference to a person who unsuccessfully attempts to imitate something. This is a relative concept. There are many other examples where we find that even great people, relative to previous, greater people (in a certain respect), are referred to as kof bifnei adam. The beauty of our matriarch, Sarah, who was the greatest of all the tzadikot in the Torah, is referred to as kof bifnei adam in relation to the beauty of Eve, prior to the sin of Adam and Eve. So we see that an integral part of history is the degenerative process of abstract "man" and "ape."

Numerically, "man", adam is 45, which is the triangle of 9. It is the sum of all numbers from 1 to 9. If kof, which equals 186, is added to adam (45), we receive 231 (RLA), which is the triangle of 21. This is a most important number in Kabbalah. It is the number of pairs of two letters with which G-d created the world. It is called the RLA Shearim in Sefer Yetzirah. This means that kof is actually the sum of all numbers from 10 to 21. Since adam is 1 to 9, together it is 1 to 21. This sum of all numbers from 1, alef (of adam), until 21, which is G-d's Name Ekyeh, I shall be that which I shall be", equals 231. Thus, the two words, "man" (adam) and "ape" (kof) form an intrinsic, integral union. This means that the words, adam and kof are meant to be combined. By their unification the kof receives some level of elevation to become integrated back to his origin, which is man.

The Arizal teaches that between every two levels of reality there is always an intermediate level. He explicitly states that the intermediate level between man and animal is monkey. There are two sides to every intermediate. In the case of the ape as intermediary, one side relates to the "man" aspect, and the other side relates to the "animal" aspect. It is as if the two arms of the ape are actually holding on to the man and animal.

An intermediate is meant to unite. The ape has inner power to unite mankind and the animal kingdom. In the service of G-d we must learn that just as a lower level of reality often tries to imitate a higher level, often unsuccessfully, as in kof bifnei adam, so man is instructed to imitate all the positive natural attributes that G-d created in each of the animals. In Pirkei Avot it says that we have to be as bold as a tiger, etc. to do the will of our Father in heaven. As the verse says (Job 35:11), malfeinu mibahamot aretz ("He teaches us from the animals of the earth"). The ape, as intermediate between man and animal, gives insight to man as to how to adopt the positive attributes of all the animals in his service of the Divine.

The letter kuf also means hekeif, or makeef, "surrounding, all encompassing light." The word adam represents yosher, "straightness," as the verse states: "G-d made man straight." Thus, one of the relationships between man and ape in the terminology of Kabbalah is between yosher, "straightness," and igulim, "circles," the "surrounding lights." At lower levels of reality, the "surrounding lights" are natural levels of manifestation. "Nature," teva, comes from the word taba'at, a "ring" or "circle." In its origin, the "surrounding light" comes from the or ein sof hasovev kol almin, "the infinite light that surrounds all worlds." This is the light that exists before the initial contraction at the beginning of the creative process, and the light that still remains as the omnipresence of G-d without any distinction between higher and lower levels. This is the ultimate and absolute continuum of G-d's omnipresence throughout all reality.

Another meaning of the word makeef is "to touch." In many places in the Mishnah, hakafah is used to mean "two things that touch one another." With regard to the five physical senses, the monkey represents the sense of touch. Kabbalah explains that this is the sense that most reflects its origin in the back lobe of the brain. In a sense, it is an imitation, the achor, "posterior" side of man. The elevation of the ape is the elevation of the physical sense of touch.

The verse Chochmat adam tair panav, "the wisdom of man enlightens his face," points to the relation between man and face, or the anterior part of his body. The senses of sight, sound, smell and taste all appear in the face. The posterior side is the ape, the sense of touch, from the word hakafah.

Monkeys like to jump from branch to branch. This is an expression of the sense of touch. This also relates to the monkey's role as an intermediate between man and animal. The jumping from branch to branch represents the union of separate items.

In Aramaic, the word kof means kofa d'machta, which is the "eye of the needle." There is a very important saying by our Sages that when a person dreams he sees things that cannot exist in reality as we know it. There are certain things, however, that are so removed from reality that even in a dream one does not imagine them. The example that our Sages use for that phenomenon is peela daiyil b'kofa d'machta, "seeing an elephant go through the eye of a needle." In the future, when Mashiach comes, we will perceive this experience of infinite greatness entering every point of finite reality. This is called hamshachat koach ha'bli gvul b'gvul.

The song of the elephant in Perek Shirah is Gadol Havayah umehulal me'od, "G-d is [infinitely] great and infinitely praiseworthy." This is what the elephant suggests to the soul of man. The elephant entering into the eye of the needle is like the elephant metamorphosing into a monkey. This is indeed the elevation of the greatest creature in the animal kingdom. By entering into the kofa d'machta, the eye of the needle, which is the same word as "monkey," the elephant reveals to the observer the infinite greatness of G-d entering into every point of finite reality. Thus, the elevation of the letter kuf is the manifestation of the infinite entering the finite.

In Kabbalah, the letter kuf often represents klipa, a "foreign shell," which is one of the basic symbols for evil in the Torah and Kabbalah. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the kuf also represents kedusha, "sanctity," which is total separation from finite, mundane reality. The Gemarah states that the letter kuf represents kedusha, as in kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. These three consecutive kuf's represent the three stages of elevation of the "Primordial Ape."

The letter kuf is the twelfth of the twelve simple letters of the alef beit. It corresponds to the month of Adar, the festival of Purim, which suggests Ad d'lo yada. All of the points discussed above relate to ad d'lo yada. On the surface, when a person becomes drunk, he "degenerates" from a human figure to an animal figure, especially to a copying, monkey mannerism. This is why people also dress up as clowns on Purim.

Every month and every letter has a sense. The sense of the letter kuf is laughter. This is also the sense of the month of Adar. The elevation of the ape is the elevation of laughter. According to our Sages (in the Talmud) and Sefer Yetzirah, laughter originates in the spleen. This is why the letter kuf corresponds in the body of man to the spleen, the controlling organ of laughter. An ape causes one to laugh. Laughter is an existential leap to a higher level of consciousness.

You might want to see Sefer Habrit. Very interesting discussions based on the science that was known about 200 years ago appear there. Wishing you much success in your further studies.

Silberberg

Society can be characterized as a “Culture of Followers”; precious few people are leaders in the true sense of the word. Most of our so-called leaders are individuals who have found an already-existing attractive cause which they have decided to champion. The leader’s persuasive qualities and proficient speaking skills cause others who also happen to agree with the same policies to appoint him or her as the spokesman for this cause—and thus a leader is born. In fact, however, this leader is only spearheading a manifesto which was developed by another person, or persons, long ago. The moment this leader steps out of line by expressing an idea which his “followers” don’t approve, they won’t hesitate to ostracize him and seek another “leader”!

Leaders do exist, but they are far and few in between. Actually, the beginning of the 20th Century saw a great number of individuals who were true leaders. History has proven that the ideas which many of these leaders espoused were – well-intentioned, but – practically flawed, unsuccessful in the long run, and unfortunately brought untold misery to billions of people. However, the common factor between all leaders is that they attract a massive following. The masses are naturally followers, and they anxiously crave leadership; they yearn to be led by a person who has fresh ideas and initiatives, a person who speaks what he truly believes and isn’t concerned by approval ratings. This is especially true regarding the youth; historically, they have always been the first to embrace a genuine leader and his ideals.


The common factor between all leaders is that they attract a massive following... The masses are naturally followersThe Mishna states: “Adam was created alone [unlike the animals, which G-d created multitudes of every species] to teach us that every person is obligated to say ‘the world was created just for me!’” Adam was created without any peers because G-d didn’t want his behavior and his service of G-d to be based on another’s opinion of him; He didn’t want Adam to shape his personality based on societal norms or expectations—He wanted Adam to be a true leader. And, indeed, no sooner Eve was created than Adam made the critical error of following instead of leading. “If the fruit is good for Eve, then it must be fine for me too,” was the error which cast him and all his future descendents from the Garden of Eden.

As descendents of Adam, we were all created with the innate ability to be leaders. We are meant to have a positive affect on our colleagues and peers. This is especially true today, when unfortunately so many of our brothers and sisters are ignorant of their heritage, entirely unaware of the beauty of Torah. But true leadership doesn’t begin with wooing a following.

Leadership begins with a person who has tremendous integrity, a contagious passion for his convictions, and is completely unaffected by his neighbor’s opinion of him—be it positive or negative. Such a person will naturally draw a captivated audience.

Aping is for monkeys; we must strive to be human.

Tzvi

On a very fundamental level, evolution is a Torah idea. The whole idea that there is a progression to the cosmos, that it is not a static situation—there is plenty to suggest that this was an idea introduced to the world by the Torah. The world was made to get from point A to point B, and everything occurring in between can be seen as part of that progression. But when we talk about Darwin’s concept of origins and the cosmologist’s history of time, there we find some serious points of contention:

The basic mechanism of both these paradigms is nothing other than chance and mathematics. The story of Genesis in the Torah tells of deliberate action on the part of the Creator.


They are entirely materialistic representations of the universe. The Kabbala describes the material universe as only the outer layer of an infinitely deep hierarchy of higher and higher levels of being, with the ultimate source being something that is pure nothingness relative to our world.

Dovid

In the traditional view of the Bible, the world is a mere five and a half thousand years old and was created in six days. Surely modern science proves that the world is billions of years old and man evolved through a process of evolution, thus laying to rest the Biblical story of Genesis? Can one honestly follow antiquated religious beliefs when science proves otherwise?


The Definition of Science and Religion

Science, broadly defined, means knowledge. Specifically we refer to science as knowledge ascertained by observation and experiment, critically tested, systemized and brought under general principles. Being even more specific one must distinguish between empirical or experimental science dealing with, and confined to describing and classifying, observable phenomena, and speculative science dealing with unknown phenomena, sometimes phenomena that cannot be duplicated in the laboratory. The term “scientific speculation” is actually a terminological incongruity since no speculation can be called knowledge in the strict sense of the word. At best, scientific speculation can only describe theories inferred from certain known facts and applied in the realm of the unknown.

Religion means a belief in something. In terms of the Jewish religion this is belief in the Divine nature of the Torah – Torah min Hashamayim; that the Torah received by Moses and given to the Jewish people is Divine in source and is the word of G–d. Being so, Torah is Divine wisdom, and since G–d is true so is his Torah. Torah is often referred to as Torat Emet meaning the True Torah. Torah reveals the truth.

From these two definitions we see that science formulates and deals with theories and hypotheses while Torah deals with absolute truths. These are two different disciplines and “reconciliation” is entirely out of place. Torah is the realm of truth of the absolute. What Torah says is true not because it has been scientifically proven to be true, rather it is true because the truth was revealed by G–d. Science does not deal with absolutes, rather it deals with the realm of observable phenomena and produces principles based on its observations.


The Science of Yesterday & the Science of Tomorrow

In the 19th Century it was the prevailing view of scientists and modernists that human reason was infallible in “scientific” deductions and that sciences such as physics, chemistry, mathematics etc., were absolute truth, that is to say, not merely accepted truths but absolute. Speaking in Jewish terms this meant the establishment of a new idolatry, not of wood and stone, but the worship of the contemporary sciences and philosophies.

In fact, in the face of dogmatic and deterministic views of science prevailing at that time, a whole apologetic literature was created by well-meaning religious advocates and certain rabbis who saw no other way of preserving Torah heritage in their “enlightened” communities except through tenuous and spurious reinterpretations of certain passages in the Torah in order to accommodate them to the prevailing world outlook. No doubt they knew inwardly that they were suggesting interpretations in Torah which were at variance with Torat Emet, but at least they felt they had no alternative.

In the 20th Century, however, and especially in recent decades, science has finally come out of its medieval wrappings and the whole complexion of science has changed. The assumed immutability of the so-called scientific laws and the concept of absolutism in science in general have been abrogated and the contrary view is now held, known as the “Principle of Indeterminism”. Nothing any more is certain in science but only relative or probable, and scientific findings are now presented with considerable reservation and with limited and temporary validity, likely to be replaced at any time by a more advanced theory.

Most scientists have accepted this principle of uncertainty – enunciated by Werner Heisenberg in 1927 – as being intrinsic to the whole universe. The 19th Century dogmatic, mechanistic and deterministic attitude to science is gone. The modern scientist no longer expects to find truth in science. The current and universally accepted view is that science must reconcile itself to the idea that, whatever progress it makes, it will always deal with probabilities, not with certainties or absolutes. Let us give two examples of the metamorphosis of scientific discovery. There is a verse in Ecclesiastes 1:4, “The earth stands forever”, that seems to suggest that the earth stands still and the sun revolves around the earth. This presentation was entirely acceptable in the early common era, especially when, in the second century, Ptolemy perfected Aristotle’s construction of how the sun and the planets revolve around the earth in circular orbits with additional rotation around certain points on these orbits.

Velvl Greene

Before birth, a baby lives in its mother’s womb surrounded by water. It doesn’t breathe. Its lungs are collapsed, folded between the two upper chambers of the heart. There’s a hole in its heart so the blood circulates. And there’s a tube connecting the aorta to the pulmonary artery.
Within ten minutes of birth, its lungs have to expand, the hole in its heart has to heal, the tube has to seal off.

In fact, 67 different steps have to happen in sequence so that the baby can go from a creature that lives in water to an oxygen-breathing baby. Miraculously, these things take place routinely every minute of every day.

That is science, when we understand what happens. And we know that no human being or scientist could have developed or engineered this sequence. If a company tried to build it, it wouldn’t work.

Indeed, if we knew what goes on in our very own lives, if we knew what goes on in the birth of a baby, we would get on our knees and thank G-d forever. All of the vast scientific studies that have been made over the past hundred years keep pointing to the concept of order and sequence, and therefore, in my opinion, a creator.

A professor of mathematics came into my study one day. He was a real atheist, agnostic. He said to me, “I’ve just calculated that it’s impossible to have the human eye evolving in the five billion years that they give us.” He said, “The person who believes in evolution, that is the person making the leap of faith.”


Indeed, if we knew what goes on in our very own lives, if we knew what goes on in the birth of a baby, we would get on our knees and thank G-d foreverABCScience doesn’t contradict the Torah. Science teaches us that when the Torah says, “I have created the world,” “I will care for you,” “I will heal you,” and “I will provide,” you know what? G-d was right. 1998 is the first time in human history that enough food has been grown to feed every living person on the planet. Theoretically, no one on this earth should have to starve. And there’s a statement in Psalms that says, “You open your hands and you give to all living things its need.” G-d has provided. And that’s what science says. When a baby is born, you know what? He was right. And science says that when the doctor heals a patient, you know what? He was right. G-d has provided.
There has never been a rabbi who has ever said to a scientist, “stop searching.” There’s never been a rabbi who has said to him, “quit looking.” Because the ultimate believer of truth, and the Torah is all truth, will ultimately believe that anything you find in nature that is true will reflect and react to the glory of G-d.

When I was younger, I worked for the NASA program. And I looked for life on Mars. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars looking for life on Mars—for which, if you haven’t been thanked as taxpayers before, let me thank you. During that time I asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe, “Is this right? Can I really do this? Other religions say you shouldn’t search. And the Torah doesn’t say there’s life on Mars.” The Rebbe replied in Yiddish, “Professor Green, you should look for life on Mars. And if you don’t find it there, you should look elsewhere. And if you don’t find it there, you should look elsewhere. Because for you to sit here and say that G-d didn't create life elsewhere is to put limits on G-d, and no one can do that.”

Velvl Greene is Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at Ben Gurion University and directs the Lord Jacobovitz Center for Jewish Medical Ethics. A former Fulbright Scholar and an original participant in NASA’s Exobiology program, he served as Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Minnesota for 27 years.

Shapiro

Three weeks ago they held a funeral for Galileo. Well, not exactly a funeral; it was more of a farewell celebration, a tribute by the hundreds of people who had spent years working with him. There was sadness there, but also gratefulness, for all that Galileo had accomplished. As Dr. Claudia Alexander, a close associate, expressed it, Galileo was "worth his weight in gold."

Such attention and nostalgia might lead us to think that Galileo was one of those perfectly behaved creatures, unerringly following the prescribed program. Well actually, no. In fact, Galileo was uncooperative from the very start, and it was kind of downhill from there.

The NASA space probe Galileo was conceived in 1977 and scheduled to be launched in 1982 , but takeoff was repeatedly delayed, first by technical difficulties and then by the Challenger disaster. Finally, in 1989, Galileo was attached to the shuttle Atlantis and sent to outer space. The change of plans necessitated a roundabout route, by which it took him six years to reach the planet Jupiter instead of the originally planned two and a half. When the control team finally got him, in 1995, where they wanted him -- orbiting Jupiter -- they realized that he wouldn't be able to transmit his findings because his major antenna had failed to unfurl. At one point he was subjected to such intense radiation from a little Jovian moon that his tape recorder got completely stuck. These initial difficulties seemed to indicate that the billions of dollars poured into Galileo would be for naught and his mission would be a failure.

So why the upbeat mood when Galileo's friends gathered in a Pasadena lab on September 21, 2003 to hear his final radio signal as he plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere? Because, in all the history of space exploration, Galileo is counted amongst the most successful satellite missions. His 14-year journey was plagued by one crisis after the next, yet somehow, a way was found to bypass or overcome them. In the end, he actually got to his destination, an alternative data transmission system was set up, and his controllers managed to get that tape recorder unstuck by switching it on and off dozens of times. By the time his mission came to an end, Galileo sent us 14,000 pictures (many of them the breathtaking photos that have redefined our vision of outer space), uncovered incredible phenomena on Jupiter's four major moons, witnessed a comet crash, and discovered the first known asteroid with its own moon -- "priceless information," in the words of one scientist, "the kind that forwards our knowledge."

Now, I am no Galileo, but somehow it's comforting to think of the little guy zooming blindly around our solar system at 8,000 miles an hour, mostly in directions that seem to be opposite of his intended destination, being zapped by radiation and knowing just when to protect himself and shut down all his systems -- and actually getting some useful things done.

And the scientists are no G-d, but it's comforting to think about a bunch of guys giving a not-so-gentle nudge to swing a spacecraft into a higher orbit, reprogramming systems from millions of miles away in ways that they were never designed to be used, and sending little electronic jolts to unstuck a crucial bit of tape. Of them encountering endless complications with their creation, yet loving him more because of it.

And when I think about oblivious Galileo, zipping about, insentient to his near moon collisions, (like I said, I am no Galileo, so I am always bumping into moons, not just missing), bewildered by the sudden lurches in his trajectory, and discombobulated by shocks that seem to come from nowhere, I feel a kind of empathy. But I also feel a kind of joy, because despite all this, or rather, because of it, Galileo performed better than our wildest expectations, and although Galileo remained forever incognizant of the careful manipulation of his path, suddenly, I am.

And when I think about the scientists, doing everything in their power to make the mission successful, and indeed accomplishing marvelous things for science and knowledge, and then realizing finally (like I said, they're no G-d) that not all obstacles are surmountable and the mission would come to an end with Galileo's collision with Jupiter, I feel a kind of sympathy. But I also feel a kind of joy, because the scientists have demonstrated for me the unseen hand that guides my path, and that for all that they've done, their powers are limited, because they're no G-d. But G-d is.

Randall

We can't tell how old the universe is by examining it, because we don't understand how it got here in the first place.

A Longer Answer

If you met someone on the street and wanted to determine how old this person is, you would have one of two options. You could examine circumstantial evidence. Or you could ask this person, "Excuse me, how old are you?"

Let's start with the first method and do this systematically. We have overwhelming evidence that the universe is currently expanding. All we have to do is measure how fast it is currently expanding, its size, and its total mass, and we can work backwards to when it must have started. The result? The current estimate is fifteen billion years.

Piece of cake, right? Well, not quite. You see, we're missing an important step--the very first one. We've traced our universe back to the starting line, as a single glob about to explode. But what made it explode? How did it get there? What came before?

So now we're left with the job of tracing something back to nothing. That's not so simple. If we want to be thorough, we will need to reconstruct various degrees of nothingness and somethingness in between, and describe how one evolved into the other. All these are things our scientific instruments cannot measure--science deals only with things that are something. Science is lost when discussing something before it became something. To get technical, science can discuss temporal causalities, but not ontological ones. Which means that if you're going to direct the question, "How did our universe come to be?" to a scientist, you might as well direct it to an accountant, an artist or a real estate agent.

The Kabbalists, on the other hand, dealt with just that: A hierarchy of being, starting with an Ultimate Source which transcends the whole system of being and not-being, and working down through a systematic, interlinked chain (evolution) of multiple universes that terminate at our rock bottom, physical world. But none of this is within the domain of the physical sciences, which rely on precise measurements of phenomena or their effects.

On the contrary, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote to Rabbi Dr. Herzog in 1956 (1), (the following is my own free translation from the Hebrew): "According to the conclusions of contemporary science, the annihilation of anything--to return to nothing, or the opposite, creation of something from nothing--are impossibilities within the natural law.

And further, creation ex nihilo, from a scientific perspective, is more implausible than having a human being appear out of the inanimate mud, just as he is, with no stages in between."

Now we've thrown a wrench in the works. How can science tell how long the world has been around, when it can't describe--or even allow the possibility of description of--the processes by which the world came to be in the first place?

Cosmic Birth

To give an analogy, let's say I examine an alien to determine his/her/its age. I announce to this friendly and cooperative being that by my calculations, he/she/it was born 108 years ago. To which he/she/it responds, "Who says I was born?"

Good point. Maybe our friendly alien gradually took form, passing through a period when it was neither alive nor inanimate. If so, how do we determine the point to begin counting its age? Or perhaps it existed initially as an ethereal being and only yesterday materialized as a fully adult alien.

If you think this puts you at a disadvantage, imagine if we would turn the tables and ask the alien to age us. He may perform a thorough examination of us and our environs and determine that, given the cosmological forces of which his civilization is aware, and given the chemical and energy makeup of our planet, for such a complex bio-system to develop out of the earth would take about 2.5 million years. To which we respond that we humans are actually born with limbs and organs already in place.

Don't be surprised if he flatly rejects such a notion as absurd. Even an earthling, Maimonides, gave 43 reasons why live birth is rationally impossible. If you've ever been in a delivery room, you'll know what he's talking about: In a moment, a new, complete person appears on planet earth. It just doesn't look, well, normal.

Yet, within our biosphere, birth is the standard form of origin. Things tend to arrive on the scene fully assembled. The alien may not have known about this. But the human being has no excuse for failing to integrate this phenomenon into his intuition. Instead, we insist on speculations that over-simplify the cosmos into neat, gradual evolutionary patterns on a single, horizontal plane of existence.

Which is just what we are doing here: When we wind back time to the origin of the universe as a single glob and only then ask the question, "Now how did that get there?" we are arbitrarily breaking a single answer into two steps. We're saying, First it came into being. Then it evolved to its present state. But maybe that's not so. Maybe both processes occurred at once. Perhaps the process was shared over multiple states of being, wherein processes occur at varying rates?

A simple analogy from geometry: Draw a square. Now make a path from the top right corner of that square to the bottom left corner. Did you first travel to the bottom right, and then over to the left? Or did you make a diagonal straight to your target?

Figure 1: Time & State of Being--choose your path


So, too, here, there are two co-ordinates:

a) The process that led to the design and form of our cosmos.

b) The ontological transition from nothing to something.

Perhaps they occurred simultaneously, in tandem. Or maybe they didn't. That's just the point: We have no way of knowing.

But the answer is crucial to our quest, because there is another unknown: How does time behave in a higher state of being? When form and substance are more loosely defined--as they would be in a pre-material state--can cause and effect occur over a shorter period of time? In truth, is there any sense in talking about time at all at these stages?

G-d's Womb

Before you get the feeling that we are completely lost, let me point out that in truth, we do have some frame of reference. In the form by which G-d created heaven and earth--the macrocosm, so He made Adam--the microcosm. The human being includes processes that match every level of the ontological hierarchy mentioned above. We don't just perform material tasks, we talk about them, we think about them, we have feelings about them, we conceive what those tasks will be somewhere in our consciousness or pre-consciousness, and--even before any of this--we begin with a simple desire for something to be. So, by examining those processes within the microcosm of our own psyche, we can get a picture of how all this works in the grand macrocosm.

And lo and behold, a discovery awaits us: The higher we go up the hierarchy, the more rapid those processes occur. What takes years to perform may take only hours to describe, minutes to dream about, and a flash of a lightning bolt to desire and conceive.

If the cosmos was conceived and incubated in the womb of G-d's mind, at which stage was it born into the time continuum that we measure with our physical senses? Is it conceivable that geological, chemical and organic processes that would take billions of years in our realm could occur within the equivalent of hours or minutes or even nanoseconds--or perhaps zero time--when occurring at a higher state of being but counted from our realm?

Take the oceans, for example. The account in Genesis begins discussing the Creator's conception of a single ocean and concludes with His actual creation of multiple oceans. Could continental drift have occurred within the gestation period between conception and birth--thereby breaking the great ocean apart? If so, many questions would be answered: Continental drift requires huge expenditures of energy that should melt the earth in a short time (2). Perhaps in a higher ontological realm the process could occur non-destructively, as well as extremely faster.

How about the origin of life? The Ramban (Nachmanides, 14th century Jewish scholar) understands Genesis as saying that the water, through its movement, metamorphosed into the creatures of the sea. This, then, is a description of a kind of evolutionary process. It's not just G-d says fish and fish are there. G-d directs a natural element to become fish, just as He directs the earth to sprout forth vegetation. But it occurs rapidly and with deliberate direction. The origin of life from inanimate chemicals remains an elusive puzzle for biologists--it is statistically impossible for it to have occurred by chance. Could this synthesis have occurred, as we said, in the womb of G-d's creative mind, at a higher plane of being?

Interestingly, the Kabbalah also describes an incremental process of formation--albeit in terms far beyond the crude mechanics of materialistic evolutionism. Rather than physical organisms transmuting into increasingly complex forms, the ancient Book of Formation describes the letters that form the words of the account of Creation passing through an (almost?) endless series of permutations to recombine and generate all the details of every instance of the cosmos.

The process has been compared to the workings of the human mind: The mind begins with a simple seed of an idea. Then, in gradual stages, it generates vast sets of corollaries, analogies and applications, each with its particular set of words by which the mind articulates these ideas to itself and to others. Certainly, this paradigm provides a coherent alternative to Darwinism to explain the apparent phylogeny of the species.

Once upon a time, scientists assumed they had the keys to absolute knowledge. The last hundred and fifty years has brought us to acknowledge there is no such thing within the realm of standard human perception and reason. When it comes to facts alive and well in the real world, we can make some pretty good stabs at the truth. When it comes to questions of the future, we can make limited speculations. When it comes to knowing the origin of things, empirical materialism is completely out of its realm. (3) Perhaps we are ready today to recognize a place for the inner vision of the prophet and the mystic.

The Alternative Answer

As we said before, there is another method of determining age other than hypothesis and speculation. If the subject is a conscious being, we can ask him/her/it, "Excuse me, do you have a memory of how old you are?"

In the case of the cosmos, we have asked. Of course, some will call it speculation, or even "primitive imagination." But then, I wonder what scientists a century from now will call the speculations of today's cosmologists? As for me, my understanding of the Torah is that it is not a human voice, but the voice of the essence of the cosmos itself.

So we asked.

The answer at the dating of this writing is 5,761 years (4).


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTES:

(1) The entire letter is well worth reading and is published in Ma Rabbu Maasecha page 262, and in Igrot Kodesh, vol. 13, pg. 143.

To be truthful, the Rebbe's uncompromising rejection of any marriage of Darwinism and Genesis often puzzled me. So many theologians have been quite eager and willing to "reinterpret a few lines of the Torah to make room for the scientists, whereas the scientific community is almost universally intolerant of those who step outside the Holy Grail of Darwinism. It would have been so much more convenient for the Rebbe to concede to the scientists and thereby please both sides. But then I read an essay of a significant American scientist, Prof. Wolfgang Smith (Cosmos, Bios, Theos , pg. 115, ed. Margenau and Varghese, Open Court, Chicago, 1992). The entire essay is worth reading (as is the book), and I admit to having borrowed some of his terminology in this essay. To quote one succinct paragraph:

At bottom, evolutionism is the denial of transcendence, the desperate attempt to understand life on the horizontal plane of it manifestations. Religion, on the other hand, is perforce concerned with transcendence and the vertical dimension, in which alone the re-ligare or binding back can be effected. The supposed merger, therefore, of these opposed doctrines constitutes one of the most bizarre happenings in these already confused and confusing times.

(2) See Cook, Melvin A. 1966. Prehistorical Earth Models, Max Parrish, London. Cited in Milton (see below), page 63.

(3) As an addendum, to demonstrate the perils of antecedental extrapolation, here is a table of time-scale geochronometries that indicate a much shorter age of planet earth than that which biologists and geologists generally work from. A description of these indicators, along with the table below, can be found in another recommended book, The Facts of Life by Richard Milton. Much of the material can be found in his revised edition, titled, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.

METHOD
INDICATED AGE OF EARTH

Radiogenic helium in atmosphere
Less than 175,000 years

Poynting-Robertson effect
Less than 100,000 years

Persistence of interplanetary dust
Less than 100,000 years

Non-equilibrium of carbon 14
Less than 30,000 years

Persistence of short-period comets
Less than 10,000 years

Magnetic field decay
Less than 10,000 years

Dissolved nickel in oceans
Less than 9,000 years

Meteoric dust in atmosphere
Recent origin of Earth

Continental drift (ice-cap rupture)
Recent origin of life


(4) This age is according to ancient Jewish tradition, and can be calculated by compiling the chronologies written in the Torah.

Montgomery

Why has evolution become so widely accepted, and why has the Bible come to be viewed with such hostility? What has changed?

Only a few generations ago laws prevented the teaching of the theory of evolution in some communities and regions in the United States. The Bible was commonly accepted as true and a reliable account of our origins. But now almost the opposite is true. The Bible is banned from classrooms in American schools, and serious discussion of the biblical view of the creation of our universe—and our human origins—is forbidden. At the same time, criticism of the theory of evolution is at times ruthlessly suppressed in academic and scientific circles.

Certainly not all scientists agree that no Creator exists and that we as human beings are the product of random chance. In 1972 the California State Board of Education asked NASA director Wernher von Braun, who has been called the father of the American space program, for his thoughts on the origin of the universe, life and the human race. Here's how he responded: "For me, the idea of a creation is not conceivable without invoking the necessity of design. One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all. In the world around us, we can behold the obvious manifestations of an ordered, structured plan or design . . .

"And we are humbled by the powerful forces at work on a galactic scale, and the purposeful orderliness of nature that endows a tiny and ungainly seed with the ability to develop into a beautiful flower. The better we understand the intricacies of the universe and all it harbors, the more reason we have found to marvel at the inherent design upon which it is based . . .

"To be forced to believe only one conclusion—that everything in the universe happened by chance—would violate the very objectivity of science itself. Certainly there are those who argue that the universe evolved out of a random process, but what random process could produce the brain of a man or the system of the human eye?

"Some people say that science has been unable to prove the existence of a Designer. They admit that many of the miracles in the world around us are hard to understand, and they do not deny that the universe, as modern science sees it, is indeed a far more wondrous thing than the creation medieval man could perceive. But they still maintain that since science has provided us with so many answers the day will soon arrive when we will be able to understand even the fundamental laws of nature without a Divine intent.

They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun? . . .

"What strange rationale makes some physicists accept the inconceivable electron as real while refusing to accept the reality of a Designer on the ground that they cannot conceive of Him?" (Scott Huse, The Collapse of Evolution, 1997, pp. 159-160).

Many educated people accept the theory of evolution. But is it true? Curiously enough, our existence as humans is one of the best arguments against it. According to evolutionary theory, the traits that offer the greatest advantage for survival are passed from generation to generation. Yet human reproduction itself argues powerfully against this fundamental premise of evolution.

If evolution is the guiding force in human development, how is it that higher forms of life evolved with male and female sexes? If humans are the pinnacle of the evolutionary process, how is it that we have the disadvantage of requiring a member of the opposite sex to reproduce, when lower forms of life—such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa—are sexless and far more prolific? If they can reproduce by far simpler methods, why can't we? If evolution is true, what went wrong?

Let's take it a step further. If humans are the result of evolution continually reinforcing characteristics that offer a survival advantage while eliminating those that hinder perpetuation, how can we explain a human infant?

Among thousands of species the newly born (or newly hatched) are capable of survival within a matter of days or, in some cases, only minutes. Many never even see their parents. Yet, among humans, an infant is utterly helpless—not for days but for up to several years after birth.

A human baby is reliant on adults for the nourishment, shelter and care he or she needs to survive. Meanwhile, caring for that helpless infant is a distinct survival disadvantage for adults, since giving of their time and energy lessens their own prospects for survival.

If evolution is true, and humans are the pinnacle of the evolutionary process, why does a process as basic as human reproduction fly in the face of everything that evolution holds true?

Regrettably, such obvious flaws in the theory are too often overlooked.

Even Charles Darwin, whose theories about evolution took the world by storm, had second thoughts. In his later years he reflected on what he had started: "I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them" (William Federer, America's God and Country, 1996, p. 199, emphasis added).

Now, almost a century and a half after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, we can see where his thinking has led. In Europe in particular, belief in a personal God has plummeted. In the United States, court decisions have interpreted constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion as freedom from religion—effectively banning public expression of religious beliefs and denying the country's rich religious heritage.

Meanwhile, the world languishes in the sorrow and suffering resulting from rejecting absolute moral standards. With no absolute standards, we have no reason to care what happens to our fellowman. We should seek only our personal gain regardless of the cost to others—acting exactly as evolutionary theory says we should.

Could man create a religion with no god? The widespread acceptance of evolution shows that we have done just that. The Bible teaches us that God created man. Evolution teaches us that man created God.

If God created man we have no right to ignore Him. If man created God we can easily ignore Him. What man has made he can do away with. Thus we are free to act as though God doesn't exist, free to dismiss the Bible, free to determine for ourselves what is right and wrong and how we will choose to live.

Which is the myth, God or evolution? Louis Bounoure, director of France's Strasbourg Zoological Museum and professor of biology at the University of Strasbourg, stated: "Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless" (Federer, p. 61).

Professor Bounoure, though right about evolution, was wrong about one thing. Rather than being useless, evolution is quite useful if one wants to reject the idea of God.

Jimmy

The ancient Greeks had no shortage of creation myths, with many elements taken from the Babylonian model. Two poets, Homer and Hesiod, described the Greek religious system, with its national gods in charge, while living in a royal court full of intrigues and lusts.

In his version Hesiod saw the origin of the universe as deriving from the chaos, the vastness, of space that produced the first goddess, Gaea (earth). She created Uranus (heaven), who became her husband, and they produced many lesser gods. The division between heaven and earth occurred when one of their sons, Cronus, in a fit of jealousy attacked his father, Uranus. Zeus, the one who became the chief god, was born from the irate Cronus and his wife, Rhea.

Sadly, the only surviving writings about Christianity from the first centuries after the apostles come mainly from men steeped in Greek thought and philosophy. These were Justin Martyr (110-165), Clement (160-220), Origen (185-254) and Augustine (354-430), all former disciples of the thinking of Plato and Aristotle. In this way Greek philosophy entered the Roman church and formed much of its theology.

"The problem with Gentile Christians," notes church historian Samuele Bacchiocchi, "was not only their lack of familiarity with Scripture, but also their excessive fascination with their Greek philosophical speculations, which conditioned their understanding of Biblical truths. While Jewish Christians often erred in the direction of legalism, Gentile Christians often erred in the direction of philosophical speculations which sundered Christianity from its historical roots" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, 1995, pp. 102-103).

In particular, Origen and Augustine began to interpret much of the book of Genesis as allegory. They viewed the Genesis account as filled with symbolic fictional figures representing truth, human conduct or experience. Gradually, this allegorical method became the norm in the Catholic understanding of much of Genesis. These misconceptions were to heavily influence church authorities down through the years.

Clarence

Many passages show us that Christ and the apostles fully accepted the Genesis account of the creation. Jesus talked about "the beginning of the creation which God created" (Mark 13:19; see also Matthew 24:21).

He once asked some who questioned Him: "Have you not read that He who made them [Adam and Eve] at the beginning 'made them male and female'?" (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6). Later the resurrected Christ referred to Himself as "the Beginning of the creation" (Revelation 3:14).

Many are surprised to learn that the Bible reveals Christ as the Creator! More than once the apostle Paul explained to early Christians that God had created all things by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16). Hebrews 1:2 tells us that God "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, . . .through whom also He made the worlds."

Paul also told the Athenians that God made all nations "from one blood" (Acts 17:26); all are descendants of Adam and Eve. Paul believed all that was written in the Law and the Prophets (Acts 24:14), including the creation accounts.

Finally, both the specifics and the tenor of Peter's last letter tell us that he, too, believed in creation (see 2 Peter 3:4-7 in particular

Truth or consequences

You can choose to accept or retain the Darwinist view, that there is no Creator and we are simply the result of blind, random chance, a series of lucky accidents. You can decide for yourself how you will choose to live and what values and principles will determine how you treat others. You can believe that man created God rather than the other way around. As Paul pointed out almost 2,000 years ago, many people are quite content to find ways to reason around the concept of a Creator (Romans 1:20-32).

On the other hand, you can accept the evidence that there is a Creator who cares about you in ways you can't imagine.

Some 3,000 years ago King David recorded his thoughts upon gazing at the magnificent night sky: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?" (Psalm 8:3-4, NRSV).

He understood that a Being capable of creating such perfection and splendor must have a great plan and a purpose for us. And indeed He does. God wants to reveal that purpose to you, to show you the way out of the pain and sorrow we have brought on ourselves from rejecting His ways. He offers this incredible invitation: "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).

We've summarized some of these "great and mighty things" in our free booklet What Is Your Destiny? It will show you from the Scriptures the future God has planned for those willing to believe Him and accept His invitation. It's a future far beyond the meaningless and purposeless moral, emotional and spiritual vacuum offered by evolution.

". . . I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses," He tells us. "Choose life so that you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19, NRSV). The choice is yours.

Many excellent books have been published in recent years detailing scientific findings and conclusions that compellingly demonstrate the impossibility of evolution as an explanation for the existence of life on earth. It is helpful to remember that evolution cannot offer an explanation for the origin of our magnificent universe; evolution seeks to explain only how life might have begun in a universe that already existed.

If you would like to dig more deeply into the case against evolution, we recommend the following books, many written by people with backgrounds in the physical sciences:

* Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry, Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, 1996. Demonstrates that the minute building blocks of life-cells and their myriad components-are far too complex for their codependent parts and processes to have evolved without an outside, intelligent design at work.

* Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design, edited by William Dembski, 1998. A collection of academic writings from the fields of physics, astrophysics, biology, anthropology, biology, mechanical engineering and mathematics that challenge Darwinism and offer evidence supporting intelligent design in the universe.

* Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton, senior research fellow, University of Otago, New Zealand, 1996. Examines features of the natural world that mutation and natural selection cannot explain and shows the impossibility of transitional forms required for Darwinist evolution to have taken place.

* Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence From Science and the Bible, Alan Hayward, 1985. Written by a British physicist, an insightful book on the pros and cons of the evolution-vs.-science controversy.

* The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong, Francis Hitching, 1982. Points out many of the problems in the traditional view of evolution.

* Darwin on Trial, Phillip Johnson, professor of law, University of California, Berkeley, 1993. Examines scientific detail that argues convincingly against the theory of evolution.

* Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education, Phillip Johnson, 1995. Discusses the cultural implications of belief in evolution; that is, that the philosophy behind Darwinian evolution has become in effect the dominant established religion in many societies.

* Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, Phillip Johnson, 1997. Written specifically for older students and their parents and teachers to prepare them for the antireligion bias inherent in most advanced education.

* Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law & Culture, Phillip Johnson, 1998. Compilation of essays ranging from evolution and culture to law and religion.

* Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of the Human Fossils, Marvin Lubenow, 1992. Documents the serious problems with the supposed links between man and apes.

* What Is Creation Science?, Henry Morris and Gary Parker, 1987. Two creation scientists provide a critical examination of the major arguments used to support evolution.

* Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, Richard Milton, 1997. Mr. Milton, a science journalist and noncreationist, reveals the circular reasoning Darwinists must rely on for their arguments while discussing data widely acknowledged in scientific circles.

* Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism, James Perloff, 1999. A self-professed former atheist offers an easy-to-read view of evidence contradicting Darwinism, including many quotations from evolutionists and creationists. (The title is taken from a British astronomer's assessment that the likelihood of higher life forms emerging through random mutation is comparable to saying a tornado sweeping through a junkyard could build a Boeing 747 airliner.)

* Not by Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution, Lee Spetner, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998. Dr. Spetner shows that one of the fundamental premises of neo-Darwinism-that random mutation created the kinds of variations that allowed macroevolution to take place-is fatally flawed and could never have happened as Darwinists claim.

Charles

What have we learned since Charles Darwin's treatise on evolution, Origin of Species, was first published in 1859? Science has advanced greatly since those horse-and-buggy days. In addition to a thorough exploration of the fossil record, a vast amount of other information is readily available.

As we saw when discussing the fossil record, the controversy about evolution is increasing.

Francis Hitching gives a general view of the debate to date: "In April 1882, Charles Darwin died peacefully of a heart attack at his family home in Kent, England. His great theory, the basis of all modern biology teaching, had come to be accepted with a fervor close to reverence . . . Yet as 1982 approached, and with the centenary of his passing, change was in the wind. Feuds concerning the theory of evolution exploded rancorously in otherwise staid and decorous scientific journals.

"Entrenched positions, for and against, were established in high places, and insults lobbed like mortar bombs from either side. Meanwhile the doctrine of Divine creation, assumed by most scientists to have been relegated long ago to the pulpits of obscure fundamentalist sects, swept back into the classrooms of American schools. Darwinism is under assault on many fronts" (The Neck of the Giraffe, 1982, p. 7).

Why the confusion and contention? Simply put, as we saw with the fossil record, the increasing scientific evidence doesn't fit the Darwinist model-and evolutionists increasingly are finding themselves on the defensive.

How has this come about? It has happened mainly because the primary supposed proofs of the theory have not held up to further discovery and scrutiny.

What about natural selection?

After the fossil record, the second supposed proof of evolution offered by Darwinists is natural selection, which they hoped biologists would confirm. "Just as the breeders selected those individuals best suited to the breeder's needs to be the parents of the next generation," explained British philosopher Tom Bethell, "so, Darwin argued, nature selected those organisms that were best fitted to survive the struggle for existence. In that way evolution would inevitably occur. And so there it was: a sort of improving machine inevitably at work in nature, 'daily and hourly scrutinizing,' Darwin wrote, 'silently and insensibly working . . . at the improvement of each organic being.'

"In this way, Darwin thought, one type of organism could be transformed into another -for instance, he suggested, bears into whales. So that was how we came to have horses and tigers and things-by natural selection" (Tom Bethell, "Darwin's Mistake," The Craft of Prose, Robert Woodward and Wendell Smith, editors, 1977, p. 309).

Darwin saw natural selection as the major factor driving evolutionary change. But how has this second pillar of evolutionary theory fared since Darwin's day? In truth, it has been quietly discarded by an increasing number of theorists among the scientific community.

Darwin's idea that the survival of the fittest would explain how species evolved has been relegated to a redundant, self-evident statement.

Geneticist Conrad Waddington of Edinburgh University defines the fundamental problem of advocating natural selection as a proof of Darwinism: "Natural selection, . . . turns out on closer inspection to be a tautology, a statement of an inevitable although previously unrecognized relation. It states that the fittest individuals in a population ... will leave most offspring" (Bethell, p. 310).

In other words, what are the fittest? Why, those that survive, of course. And what survives? Why, naturally, the fittest. The problem is that circular reasoning doesn't point to any independent criteria that can evaluate whether the theory is true.

Selection doesn't change species

Darwin cited an example of the way natural selection was supposed to work: A wolf that had inherited the ability to run especially fast was better equipped to survive. His advantage in outrunning others in the pack when food was scarce meant he could eat better and thus survive longer. Yet the very changes that enabled the wolf to run faster could easily become a hindrance if other modifications of the body did not accompany the increased speed. For example, the additional exertion required to run faster would naturally place an added strain on the animal's heart, and eventually it could drop from a heart attack. The survival of the fittest would require that any biological or anatomical alterations would have to be in harmony and synchronized with other bodily modifications, or the changes would be of no benefit.

Natural selection, scientists have found, in reality deals only with the number of species, not the change of the species. It has to do with the survival and not the arrival of the species. Natural selection only preserves existing genetic information (DNA); it doesn't create genetic material that would allow an animal to sprout a new organ, limb or some other anatomical feature.

"Natural selection," said professor Waddington, "is that some things leave more offspring than others; and you ask, which leave more offspring than others? And it is those that leave more offspring; and there is nothing more to it than that. The whole guts of evolution-which is, how do you come to have horses and tigers and things-is outside the mathematical theory [of neo-Darwinism]" (Wistar Symposium, Moorehead and Kaplan, 1967, p. 14).

Tom Bethell gets to the heart of the problem with natural selection as the foundation of evolution: "This was no good at all. As T.H. Morgan [1933 Nobel Prize winner in medicine for his experiments with the Drosophila fruit fly] had remarked, with great clarity: 'Selection, then, has not produced anything new, but only more of certain kinds of individuals. Evolution, however, means producing new things, not more of what already exists' "(Bethell, pp. 311-312, emphasis added).

Bethell concludes: "Darwin's theory, I believe, is on the verge of collapse. In his famous book, [Origin of Species], Darwin made a mistake sufficiently serious to undermine his theory. And that mistake has only recently been recognized as such ... I have not been surprised to read . . . that in some of the latest evolutionary theories 'natural selection plays no role at all.' Darwin, I suggest, is in the process of being discarded, but perhaps in deference to the venerable old gentleman, . . . it is being done as discreetly and gently as possible, with a minimum of publicity" (Bethell, pp. 308, 313-314).

Sadly, the critical examination of natural selection has been undertaken so discreetly that most people are unaware of it-so the pervasive deception that began more than 140 years ago continues.

A look at random mutation

If natural selection is not the answer, what about the third supposed proof-random mutation-as a cornerstone of evolution?

Curiously enough, Darwin himself was one of the first to discount beneficial effects from rare changes he noted in species. He did not even include them in his theory. "He did not consider them important," says Maurice Caullery in his book Genetics and Heredity, "because they nearly always represented an obvious disadvantage from the point of view of the struggle for existence; consequently they would most likely be rapidly eliminated in the wild state by the operation of natural selection" (1964, p. 10, emphasis added).

In Darwin's lifetime the principles of genetics were not clearly understood. Gregor Mendel had published his findings on genetic principles in 1866, but his work was overlooked at the time. Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, Hugo De Vries rediscovered these principles, which evolutionists quickly seized on to support evolution. Sir Julian Huxley, one of the principal spokesmen for evolutionary theory in the 20th century, commented on the unpredictability of mutations: "Mutation . . . provides the raw material of evolution; it is a random affair and takes place in all directions" (Evolution in Action, 1953, p. 38).

So, "shortly after the turn of the [19th to the 20th] century, Darwin's theory suddenly seemed plausible again," writes Hitching. "It was found that once in a while, absolutely at random (about once in ten million times during cell division, we now know) the genes make a copying mistake. These mistakes are known as mutations, and are mostly harmful. They lead to a weakened plant, or a sick or deformed creature. They do not persist within the species, because they are eliminated by natural selection . . .

"However, followers of Darwin have come to believe that it is the occasional beneficial mutation, rarely though it happens, which is what counts in evolution. They say these favorable mutations, together with sexual mixing, are sufficient to explain how the whole bewildering variety of life on Earth today originated from a common genetic source" (Hitching, p. 49, emphasis added).

Mutations: liability, not benefit

What has almost a century of research discovered? That mutations are pathological mistakes and not helpful changes in the genetic code.

C.P. Martin of McGill University in Montreal wrote, "Mutation is a pathological process which has had little or nothing to do with evolution" ("A Non-Geneticist Looks at Evolution," American Scientist, January 1953, p. 100). Professor Martin's investigations revealed mutations are overwhelmingly negative and never creative. He observed that an apparently beneficial mutation was likely only a correction of a previously deleterious one, similar to punching a man with a dislocated shoulder and inadvertently putting it back into place.

Science writer Milton explains the problem: "The results of such copying errors are tragically familiar. In body cells, faulty replication shows itself as cancer. Sunlight's mutagenic [mutation-inducing] power causes skin cancer; the cigarette's mutagenic power causes lung cancer. In sexual cells, faulty reproduction of whole chromosome number 21 results in a child with Down's syndrome" (Richard Milton, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, 1997, p. 156). Yet evolutionists would have us believe that such genetic mistakes are not only not harmful to the afflicted creature but are helpful in the long run.

Phillip Johnson observes: "To suppose that such a random event could reconstruct even a single complex organ like a liver or kidney is about as reasonable as to suppose that an improved watch can be designed by throwing an old one against a wall" (Darwin on Trial, p. 37).

We can be thankful that mutations are extremely rare. An average of one mistake per 10 million correct copies occurs in the genetic code.

Whoever or whatever types 10 million letters with only one mistake would easily be the world's best typist and probably would not be human. Yet this is the astounding accuracy of our supposedly blind genetic code when it replicates itself.

If, however, these copying errors were to accumulate, a species, instead of improving, would eventually degenerate and perish. But geneticists have discovered a self-correcting system.

"The genetic code in each living thing has its own built-in limitations," says Hitching. "It seems designed to stop a plant or creature stepping too far away from the average . . . Every series of breeding experiments that has ever taken place has established a finite limit to breeding possibilities. Genes are a strong influence for conservatism, and allow only modest change. Left to their own devices, artificially bred species usually die out (because they are sterile or less robust) or quickly revert to the norm" (Hitching, pp. 54-55).

Some scientists reluctantly concede that mutations do not explain Darwin's proposed transition from one species to the next. Writing about zoologist Pierre-Paul Grassé, Hayward says: "In 1973 he published a major book on evolution . . . First and foremost, the book aims to expose Darwinism as a theory that does not work, because it clashes with so many experimental findings.

"As Grassé says in his introduction: 'Today our duty is to destroy the myth of evolution . . . Some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and the falsity of their beliefs' . . .

"Take mutation first. Grassé has studied this extensively, both inside his laboratory and in nature. In all sorts of living things, from bacteria to plants and animals, he has observed that mutations do not take succeeding generations further and further from their starting point. Instead, the changes are like the flight of a butterfly in a green house, which travels for miles without moving more than a few feet from its starting point.

There are invisible but firmly fixed boundaries that mutations can never cross . . . He insists that mutations are only trivial changes; they are merely the result of slightly altered genes, whereas 'creative evolution . . . demands the genesis of new ones'" (Hayward, p. 25).

Embarrassingly for evolutionists, mutation is also not the answer. If anything, the self-correcting system to eliminate mutations shows that a great intelligence was at work when the overall genetic system was designed so that random mutations would not destroy the beneficial genes. Ironically, mutation shows the opposite of what evolutionism teaches: In real life random mutation is the villain and not the hero.

This takes us to one last point on mutations: the inability of evolution to explain the appearance of simple life and intricate organs.

The wondrous cell

Cells are marvelous and incredibly complicated living things. They are self-sufficient and function like miniature chemical factories. The closer we look at cells, the more we realize their incredible complexity.

For example, the cell wall is a wonder in itself. If it were too porous, harmful solutions would enter and cause the cell to burst. On the other hand, if the wall were too impervious, no nourishment could come in or waste products go out, and the cell would quickly die.

Biochemist Behe, the associate professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, summarizes one of the fundamental flaws of evolution as an explanation for any form of life. "Darwin's theory encounters its greatest difficulties when it comes to explaining the development of the cell. Many cellular systems are what I term 'irreducibly complex.' That means the system needs several components before it can work properly.

"An everyday example of irreducible complexity is a mousetrap, built of several pieces (platform, hammer, spring and so on). Such a system probably cannot be put together in a Darwinian manner, gradually improving its function. You can't catch a mouse with just the platform and then catch a few more by adding the spring. All the pieces have to be in place before you catch any mice."

Michael Behe's point is that a cell missing a tenth of its parts doesn't function only one tenth less as well as a complete cell; it doesn't function at all. He concludes: "The bottom line is that the cell-the very basis of life-is staggeringly complex. But doesn't science already have answers, or partial answers, for how these systems originated? No" ("Darwin Under the Microscope," New York Times, Oct. 29, 1996, p. A25).

Miniature technological marvel

Michael Denton, the microbiologist and senior research fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand, contrasts how the cell was viewed in Darwin's day with what today's researchers can see. In Darwin's time the cell could be viewed at best at a magnification of several hundred times. Using the best technology of their day, when scientists viewed the cell they saw "a relatively disappointing spectacle appearing only as an ever-changing and apparently disordered pattern of blobs and particles which, under the influence of unseen turbulent forces, [were] continually tossed haphazardly in all directions" (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1985, p. 328).

The years since then have brought astounding technological advancements. Now researchers can peer into the tiniest parts of cells. Do they still see only formless blobs, or do they witness something far more astounding?

"To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology," writes Dr. Denton, "we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design.

"On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units.

"The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometre in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules ...

"We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation.

"We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one such molecular machine-that is one single functional protein molecule-would be beyond our capacity . . . Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules" (Denton, pp. 328-329).

This is a microbiologist's description of one cell. The human body contains about 10 trillion (10,000,000,000,000) brain, nerve, muscle and other types of cells.

Did this come about by chance?

Yet, as complex as cells are, the smallest living things are even far more intricate. Sir James Gray, a Cambridge University professor of zoology, states: "Bacteria [are] far more complex than any inanimate system known to man. There is not a laboratory in the world which can compete with the biochemical activity of the smallest living organism" (Marshall and Sandra Hall, The Truth: God or Evolution?, 1974, p. 89).

How complex are the tiniest living things? Even the simplest cells must possess a staggering amount of genetic information to function. For instance, the bacterium R. coli is one of the tiniest unicellular creatures in nature. Scientists calculate it has some 2,000 genes, each with around 1,000 enzymes (organic catalysts, chemicals that speed up other chemical reactions). An enzyme is made up of a billion nucleotides, each of which amounts to a letter in the chemical alphabet, comparable to a byte in computer language. These enzymes instruct the organism how to function and reproduce. The DNA information in just this single tiny cell is "the approximate equivalent of 100 million pages of the Encyclopaedia Britannica" (John Whitcomb, The Early Earth, 1972, p. 79).

What are the odds that the enzymes needed to produce the simplest living creature-with each enzyme performing a specific chemical function-could come together by chance? Astrophysicists Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe calculated the odds at one chance in 1040,000 (that is, 10 to the 40,000th power: mathematical shorthand for a 10 followed by 40,000 zeros, a number long enough to fill about seven pages of this publication).

Note that a probability of less than 1 in 1050 is considered by mathematicians to be a complete impossibility (Hayward, pp. 35-37). By comparison, Sir Arthur Eddington, another mathematician, estimates there are no more than 1080 atoms in the universe! (Hitching, p. 70).

As long as evolutionists keep their conceptions as vague abstractions, they can sound plausible. But, when rigorous mathematics are applied to their generalities, and their assertions are specifically quantified, the underpinnings of Darwinian evolution are exposed as so implausible and unrealistic as to be impossible.

Scientists' revealing reaction

Molecular biochemist Behe comments on the curious academic and scientific reaction to discoveries about the intricacy of the cell: "Over the past four decades modern biochemistry has uncovered the secrets of the cell. The progress has been hard won. It has required tens of thousands of people to dedicate the better parts of their lives to the tedious work of the laboratory . . .

"The results of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell-to investigate life at the molecular level-is a loud, clear, piercing cry of 'design!' The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrödinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun or that disease is caused by bacteria or that radiation is emitted in quanta.

"The magnitude of the victory, gained at such great cost through sustained effort over the course of decades, would be expected to send champagne corks flying in labs around the world. This triumph of science should evoke cries of 'Eureka!' from ten thousand throats, should occasion much hand-slapping and high-fiving, and perhaps even be an excuse to take the day off.

"But no bottles have been uncorked, no hands slapped. Instead a curious, embarrassed silence surrounds the stark complexity of the cell. When the subject comes up in public, feet start to shuffle, and breathing gets a bit labored. In private people are a bit more relaxed; many explicitly admit the obvious but then stare at the ground, shake their heads, and let it go at that.

"Why does the scientific community not greedily embrace its startling discovery? Why is the observation of design handled with intellectual gloves? The dilemma is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God" (Behe, pp. 232-233, original emphasis).

These discoveries reveal that the simplest living cell is so intricate and complex in its design that even the possibility of its coming into existence accidentally is unthinkable. It is clear evolutionists don't have a rational answer to how the first cells were formed. This is just one of their many problems in trying to explain a wondrous creation that they argue had to come together by chance.

Hoyle

Darwinism Not the Same as Evolution
A word of caution on the use of the term evolution: It can mean different things to different people. The dictionary first defines evolution as a process of change from a lower to a higher state and, second, as the theory Darwin advocated. But they are not the same. Evolution literally means simply the successive appearances of perfectly formed life without regard to how it got there. It does not have to refer to Darwinism, which is the doctrine that gradual change led to one species becoming another through the process of natural selection.

A species is generally defined as a living thing that can reproduce only after its own kind. So, although most scientists mean Darwinism when they use the term, the two definitions of the term are not synonymous and should be carefully defined by the context.

"Why is it," asks physicist Alan Hayward, "that the terms 'Darwinism' and 'evolution' are so often used (wrongly) as if they meant the same thing? Simply because it was Darwin who put the old idea of evolution on its feet. Before Darwin, evolution was regarded by most people as a wild, unbelievable notion. After Darwin, evolution seemed such a reasonable idea that the general public soon took it for granted.

"Many people since Darwin's day have tried to find an alternative explanation of evolution, but none has succeeded. Just as when he first proposed it, Darwin's appears the only conceivable method of evolution. It still seems that Darwinism and evolution must stand or fall together" (Creation and Evolution, 1985, p. 5).

This is a reason many Darwinists are so adamant about their theory. They know the implications if they fail: The alternative explanation of life on earth is a Creator God. Professor L.T. More has candidly admitted in his book The Dogma of Evolution: "Our faith in the doctrine of Evolution depends upon our reluctance to accept the antagonistic doctrine of special creation [creation by God]" (quoted by Francis Hitching, The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 109).

Why is Fessio invited?

Joachim

What are the opinions (if known) of Pope Benedict XVI on:

a) Karl Rahner (especially in light of some of the more "wild" theological speculations and opposite of Feeneyism and supposed speculations regarding reincarnation)

and

b) Hans Urs von Balthasar (a alleged favorite of Pope John Paul II) especially in light of "the possibility" that no one (including Judas?) is in Hell (that hell is empty if I have the double negatives right)

Do either of them have a concept of "analogia entis" the so called analogy of being (which I had an opportunity to discuss with Father John Hardon at a quasi retreat some time ago before he died)

How speculative or "liberal" is Benedict XVI?

I am more confused about evolution now.

Rob

I am not a scientist. I did some college level science and math. (I have a law degree but actually work in accounting and tax) So, I am not an expert and don't want to go beyond what I know. However, I ask the theological and scientific experts if the statement that belief in Evolution is the same as Copernican theory, Newtonian physics, and other more well established scientific "facts" as is stated by at least some scientists (including the op-ed of the response to Cardinal Schoenberg)
IS EVOLUTION AN ACCEPTED SCIENTIFIC FACT?

Pope John Paul II and possibly Pius XII seemed to have believed that evolution was a scientific fact.

What is the scientific, truly scientific, conclusion on Evolution?

J.R. Stoodley

Anon,

The consensus among scientists is that the evidence for evolution, and more generally for an ancient universe, is so overwhelming that there is no reasonable way to argue against it. In my experience whenever people try to argue against it they resort to misrepresenting it. This confirms the idea of an Ecology professor of mine that no one truely does not believe in evolution. They either understand it, and hence accept it, or they do not understand it and hence may either accept or reject what they think it is.

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