Creationism & Evolution in Jewish Thought

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Other Jewish thinkers, such as Mordecai Kaplan and Yeshayahu Leibowitz, reconcile the biblical account of creation with evolutionary theory by rejecting literal understandings of the Bible in favor of metaphorical or allegorical readings. They argue that the Bible is not meant to provide an accurate scientific description of the origins of the world. Rather, it is a spiritual account of why the world came into being and what our role is in it. These thinkers follow a long tradition of Jewish commentators who view the Bible non-literally, from rabbis of the Talmudic era to Maimonides.

Some kabbalists embrace aspects of evolutionary theory as a corroboration of Kabbalistic understandings of the origins of the world and its development. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, saw evolutionary theory as support for the Kabbalistic ideas of the unity of life and the progressive unfolding of natural history.

A New Layout of the Universe

Recent scientific developments have provided new opportunities for reconciling the biblical account of creation with scientific cosmogony. Most notably, the Big Bang theory, which has gained widespread acceptance in the scientific community today, asserts that the universe began at a particular point in time. This theory can support the biblical account of intentional creation at a particular time by God. 

The hotly contested debate regarding teaching evolution vs. intelligent design in American schools has increased discussion of evolution within the American Jewish community. Some American Jews reject the term "intelligent design," seeing it as part of an attempt to bring Christianity into the public schools. Yet many Jews, even those who argue against the proponents of intelligent design, still strive to see the hand of God in the origins of the world. In the wake of these debates, Jews today continue to struggle to reconcile the traditional Jewish belief in creation with the scientific theory of evolution.

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