Evolution or Intelligent Design?

How could there be a conflict between evolution, a tool, like a scalpel, wielded by a purposeful, intelligent Creator, and the fact that earthly life in all its diversity is His Creation?

Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. - Albert Einstein

Most scientests agree: this world of ours has the appearance of having been put together by a designer, or Designer. Some scientists say that this appearance is completely misleading; that the universe, in reality, is just the product of random forces. The mutations that provide the raw material for natural selection occur purely randomly, they say, as complex structures and patterns arise out of random, chance events. There is no design, purpose, or hidden causality in biology; we and the world are what we are today, they insist, solely because we "just happened." But this is not a scientific proposition. Rather, it's merely the dogma, or fixed belief, of a God-denying creed. As a proposition - as a hypothesis - it's completely unprovable.* It is also untestable. A hypothesis that's not only unprovable but not even testable is not a scientific hypothesis.

Should children in school science classes be taught that there is no Designer? Should children in school science classes be taught that there is? Perhaps a better question to ask is, why should children in publicly supported school science classes in the United States be indoctrinated in any dogma or metaphysical belief - or unbelief - that has nothing to do with science?

To ask the question is to answer it. If science can't prove or even test a factual proposition, teaching it or its opposite to the exclusion of the other isn't teaching but indoctrination. It's not science; it's merely dogma.
* Phenomena like the (apparently useless) nipples on a man's chest and the diverse variety of life-forms that "never made it" into the present are often advanced as proof that everything is accidental. But they don't prove any such thing. We don't know what purposes these phenomena might serve that lie beyond our ken. If science has taught us anything it's that life is wonderful beyond our expectations. To presume that we know it all - that we know some life-form to be "useless" in the greater scheme of things or that it is "badly designed" - isn't science but pride, and a misplaced pride at that.

One recalls that man, in the study of inheritance, has irradiated countless thousands of generations of drosophila (fruit flies) to force mutations on them. The vast majority of mutations have been damaging to the creatures. The rest were merely useless. Never have we seen even one even arguably positive, advantageous mutation arise from this process.

All is foreseen, yet man has free will. - R' Akiva, Mishnah Torah, Pirke Avot 3:15

We live in a universe where apparently simple, random events - like a series of droplets falling from a faucet - often unfold to produce incredibly complex patterns. Sophisticated complicated structures can arise the same way. Does this mean that the universe has no room for God in it? Does this mean that He can't affect and shape the phenomena that He Himself created? Does this contradict the truth that He created the universe according to laws and principles that He Himself decreed?

The Torah tells us that God has free will, as He gives us free will - it is how we exist "in His image" (Genesis 1:27). It also tells us that He foresees everything (Mishnah, supra). But can the results of free will be predicted? Aren't these two propositions oxymoronic - don't they contradict each other? Only if one presumes to delimit God. People often do that. . . But He can handle what seems to be chance or random and see through it. He perceives the patterns as He makes the the patterns. Further, as we learn from the Bible (in fact, this is the central message of the Book of Job): God is always near; He is always immanent, and not just transcendant - He is immediately, intimately somehow involved with Creation and concerned with us in ways that confound even the proudest philosophies (Rainbow Covenant, p. 262)

Evolution is the essence of biology, the core of the study of life. We can't "reject" evolution any more than we can "reject" gravity - it's there, it's a fact, even though we don't fully understand it or the mechanisms by which it works.

Biological science, based on evolution, recently came up with something especially interesting as it touches upon religion:

September 9, 2005. Scientists discover a "brain-building gene" in human beings and calculate that it "arose approximately 5,800 years ago." This is an anti-microcephalic (microcephalia relates to the condition known as pin-headedness) gene, which apparently has analogues in every human population today. It first came into being coincident with the invention of writing, and the birth of the first real cities.

This existence of this gene was just reported today in two "very well-done" University of Chicago-sponsored studies printed in the journal Science, and then reprinted in The New York Times (p. A-14) and other newspapers.

Another anti-microcephalic or brain-building gene was also discovered, these studies say. But this one arose approximately 37,000 years ago - coincident to "the Upper Paleolithic Revolution," when agriculture first developed and people began carving sophisticated tools and keeping track of time. (The Rainbow Covenant describes this in the chapter (book one, chapter two) called "The Torah Revolution.")

These studies' results give remarkable support to the ancient Hebrew calendar - which is reputed to be the most accurate of all calendars, and continues in constant use today. (Indeed, there are excellent reasons to believe that all mankind will turn to it and utilize it eventually. See the FAQ on Special Holidays within.) The beginning date for the Hebrew calendar is the advent of the first true men. The Hebrew calendar tells us that the first true men, whom we refer to as Adam and Eve, began to walk the earth 5,765 - now, as we approach Rosh HaShana, the New Year (besides the "natural," solar new year that comes at the equinox, when the years' days begin getting longer), almost 5,766 - years ago.

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