Are the only two options for Evolution either to reject it
out of hand because of the Torah's account of supernatural
formation of life, or to reinterpret the verses of
Bereishis to conform with the theory as much as
Perhaps we can turn to a rov for guidance in whether or not
to accept this theory of science. HaRav Shamshon Rafael
Hirsch provides a third option that is quite apt for this
particular area of science: "Indeed, it is necessary to
acquire at least some familiarity with the natural sciences
in order not to overrate their significance and impact. Only
in the halls of academe does it become clear to us how many
hypotheses of our era lack the support of reality, and how
many of these hypotheses can be viewed only as possibilities
or, at best, probabilities, even though everyone acts as if
they had already been proven correct beyond a shadow of a
doubt." [This and all subsequent quotes come from
Collected Writings vol. 7, "The Educational Value of
Judaism." This quote appears on page 262.)
This sentiment is echoed by Paul Davies, a modern professor
of mathematics: "Many investigators feel uneasy about stating
in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though
behind closed doors they freely admit that they are
Luckily, in this day and age anyone can gain access to the
latest developments of advanced scientific research and
strident academic debate without having to enter those "halls
of academe" mentioned by HaRav Hirsch. Books on popular
science written for the layman by leading researchers and
instructors in the field can show us clearly just how
precarious the theory of evolution really is. In other words,
the kasheh of evolution doesn't really start.
Actually, Rav Hirsch in the article just quoted above briefly
lays out a tentative Jewish framework for accepting key
elements of the theory of "adaptation and heredity" that was
current in his time in a total of nine sentences on page 264.
This theory has long been outdated. Nonetheless, this attempt
has suggested to some that according to HaRav Hirsch one may
go along with the scientific tide and accept the doctrine of
the scientific community that rates Darwinian evolution as a
fact. The verses in the Torah may somehow be made to
accommodate the current theory of evolution just as HaRav
Hirsch was able to accommodate the one current in his time.
But this would be a mistake.
Rav Hirsch made one huge qualification in his limited
acceptance of evolution: He stipulated that the theory must,
on the basis of facts, first gain complete acceptance by the
scientific world. Let us see whether this condition of HaRav
Hirsch for accepting evolution has been fulfilled up until
Then and now, the theory of evolution was never without
serious detractors motivated by a purely scientific point of
view. The field of taxonomy, for example, which involves
constructing a meticulous (and taxing) catalogue of living
creatures according to common features, has always pointed to
the clear and distinct immutable quality of all animals that
it finds. The species we see retain their distinct identity
over time and do not evolve.
Almost completely absent from the catalogue of living
creatures (and also from the fossil record, as Darwin himself
pointed out) are creatures which evolutionary theory would
expect to straddle the line between the various larger groups
and thereby imply common descent. This empirical problem for
evolution has always been pointed out by various schools of
taxonomy, and especially by the recent school of cladistics.
This clearly violates the condition Rav Hirsch laid down
before he would accept evolution.
But aside from the conspicuously missing predicted evidence
for the theory, the alleged facts that are claimed to support
evolution by Darwinists simply don't exist, as we shall try
First, a very brief overview of what the Anti-Darwinian
scientists refute. The basic elements of Darwinian evolution
1) An extremely simple organism is capable of reproducing.
How that first organism came into being and got itself to
develop enough so that it can replicate, is still a complete
mystery that Darwinists have not penetrated in the slightest.
Some scientists have argued that, given enough time, even
apparently miraculous events become possible, such as the
spontaneous emergence of a single-cell organism from random
soups of chemicals. Sir Fred Hoyle, the British astronomer,
has said that such an occurrence is about as likely as the
assemblage of a 747 by a tornado whirling through a junkyard.
Most researchers agree with Hoyle on this point.
2) In the process of reproducing, over the years, very rare
mistakes are made. Now, 100 years after Darwin, this is said
to be due to purely random mutations inside the DNA and not
from the environment.
3) Although the vast majority of those admittedly rare
mistakes are destructive to the organism, one mistake is
bound to be somewhat beneficial.
4) The organism with the slightly beneficial mutation can
eventually, over the generations, come to dominate the
population and push out the less fit organisms in competition
for resources until the original type vanishes.
5) Cumulative repetition of steps 2, 3, and 4, over and over
again for millions of years, will, according to the theory,
reach the point where that first simple organism has become
the ancient ancestor of the 10-13 million estimated living
species today. This diversity is still low, since for each
species that is alive today, it is estimated that a thousand
others became extinct!
Interestingly enough, steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 are not
controversial. For a long time, mankind has been breeding
plants and animals to manipulate his surroundings for
economic gain. (The term "GMO" on certain food labels stands
for, "Genetically Modified Organism.") We know that certain
strains of bacteria and insects have mutated in ways that
make them resistant to toxins.
The entire controversial thrust of evolution is in step
And here is the second failure of HaRav Hirsch's criteria:
All hard laboratory evidence for evolution has only been able
to confirm steps 1-4 above. There is not a single test
proving that such small changes within a species can
accumulate to produce a completely different type of
Less than 150 years ago, Rav Hirsch described evolution in
the following terms: "This [our ability to choose to obey G-
d's laws of our own free will] will never change, not even if
the latest scientific notion that the genesis of all the
multitude of organic forms on earth can be traced back to one
single most primitive, primeval form of life should ever
appear to be anything more than what it is today, a vague
hypothesis still unsupported by fact." (page 263)
Now I quote molecular biologist Michael Denton on page 77 in
his classic, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1985):
"The fact is that the evidence [for Darwinian ideas] was so
patchy one hundred years ago that even Darwin himself had
increasing doubts as to the validity of his views, and the
only aspect of his theory which has received any support over
the past century is where it applies to microevolutionary
phenomena. His general theory, that all of life on earth had
originated and evolved by gradual successive accumulation of
fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a
highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual
support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its
more aggressive advocates would have us believe."
The similarities are striking. And don't think Denton took it
from Rav Hirsch! The seventh volume of Collected Writing
which contains this essay was only printed in English in
1992, long after Denton's book published in 1985.
Thus to invoke Rav Hirsch as the "rav hamachshir" for
consuming the theory of evolution at this juncture of
scientific progress is a distortion. It seems analogous to a
rabbi who announces unreservedly to his unlearned
congregation that Judaism can accommodate the need to eat on
Yom Kippur. If asked for his sources, the rabbi simply points
to the Shulchan Oruch, which allows dispensation for
minors and people whose life would be endangered by fasting.
This is an utterly irresponsible approach.
A Secular Religion of Evolution
But if they have no facts and no evidence, what then is the
scientific justification that evolutionists have to back
The answer is alluded to by Rav Hirsch's reference to Darwin
as "the high priest of that notion." (Page 264) The Darwinian
hypothesis of descent with modification is a statement of
belief for most honest scientists who are aware of the truth.
Darwin is the high priest of this 19th century faith. What's
interesting is, that for every quote by a leading scientist
against evolution one could bring several quotes by the same
scientist in favor.
Typical is Francis Crick (awarded the Nobel Prize for the
discovery of DNA): "An honest man, armed with all the
knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some
sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost
a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to
have been satisfied to get it going." Yet Crick still adheres
firmly to the theory of evolution.
Or consider Dr. Harold C. Urey (Nobel Prize winning Chemist):
"All of us who study the origins of life find that the more
we look into it, the more we feel that it is too complex to
have evolved anywhere. But we believe as an article of faith
that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just
that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine
that it did."
S. Gould has written that the synthetic theory "as a general
proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as
text book orthodoxy." But he has also stated that "Darwinian
selection . . . will remain a central focus of more inclusive
Why the seemingly desperate need to cling to evolution in the
face of all its fatal flaws? The reason was succinctly put in
Harper's magazine, February 1985, by Tom Bethel:
"I traveled to Boston to meet with Richard C. Lewontin a
geneticist, a one-time president of the Society for the Study
of Evolution, a well known writer on science . . . I had seen
a quote from Lewontin used as a chapter head in a book titled
Science on Trial by Douglas Futuyama. The quote, as
edited, read: Evolution is fact, not theory . . . Birds
evolve from non-birds, humans evolve from non-humans.
"`The cladists disapprove,' I said.
"He paused for a split second and said: `Those are very weak
statements, I agree.'
"Then he made one of the clearest statements about evolution
I have heard. He said: `Those statements flow simply from the
assertion that all organisms have parents. It is an empirical
claim, I think, that all living organisms have living
organisms as parents. The second empirical claim is that
there was a time on earth when there were no mammals.'
" `Now, if you allow me those two claims as empirical, then
the statement that mammals rose from non-mammals is simply a
conclusion. It's the deduction from two empirical claims.
But that's all I want to claim for it. You can't make the
direct empirical statement that mammals arose from non-
"Lewontin had made what seemed to me to be a deduction
— a materialist's deduction. `The only problem is that
it appears to be based on evidence derived from fossils,' I
said. `But the cladists say they don't really have that kind
"`Of course they don't,' Lewontin said. `If the birds
couldn't have arisen from muck by any natural processes, then
they had to arise from non-birds. The only alternative is to
say that they did arise from muck because G-d's finger went
out and touched that muck. That is to say there was a non-
natural process. And that's really where the action is.
Either you think that complex organisms arose by non-natural
phenomena, or you think they arose by natural phenomena. If
they arose by natural phenomena, they had to evolve.
"And that's all there is to it."