Other faiths (1) Judaism.

Geoff Bagley (gbagley@innotts.co.uk)
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 23:01:39 GMT

There has been some discussion recently as to whether people of other
faiths would come to the same conclusion regarding the history of the earth
as do YEC's do.

Thanks to my local library, I have been able to do some research on various
faiths which I will post in 4 parts (taking note of requests for smaller
mailings) finishing with a conclusion. I am not in a position to say
whether the references I quote from are authoritative and orthodox within
the religion concerned.

At the end of 'God & the Astronomers' Robert Jastrow (2nd edition) their is
an appendix by Prof. Steven T. Katz, Dept of Religion, Cornell University
entitled 'Judaism, God and the Astronomers.'(p.126 -140)

he makes the point that Judaism is more concerned with orthopraxis(correct
behaviour) rather than orthodoxy (correct belief) and as a consequence
'Judaism permits considerable freedom in the realm of ideas.' He
says:'Indeed, it is probably true to say that there is no one correct
Jewish answer to to such questions as to the "how" of
Creation.' He emphasisis that the Torah though literal revelation from God,
it requires interpretation. The medieval Maimonides saw the Genesis
creation as metaphors.

On Evolution, Katz says: 'Although specific details of evolutionary theory
are still subject to revision, with new evidence regularly calling older-
assumptions into doubt, the reality of some forms of long-continued
evolutionary process seems certain. As a consequence, Jewish religious
intellectuals must accept the fact of evolution and measure its

Most of the classical Jewish sources relevant to the discussion are aggadic
in character i.e. nonbinding opinions of the Sages which reflect their
contemporary worldview...'

Rabbi Norman Lamb (president of Yeshiva University, New York) is quoted as
follows on exegesis of Gen 1:
"....after the first moment of creation ex nihilo ...........all divne
activity was restricted to the productions of new forms and structures and
combinations from pre-existent material..............In each of these
cases [vegetation,fish, animals], the Torah implicitly grants that natural
chemical and biological processes were utilized by the Creator to produce
His creations. Man,too, insofar as he is a natural being, was the result
of a natural developmental process.'

One final quote from Katz:
'The thrological issue in Judaism turns on the question of what one thinks
God intended to reveal in Genesis, i.e whether it is meant as a blueprint
of creation, or as a more abstract truth, namely, the world is not a
random surd but the result of Divine Concern and Purpose.'

Geoff Bagley