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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Genesis and Evolution

UPDATED THRU 3/23/2016

{ETA 1/10/2015 My post is plain meaning of the Torah/Bible. See my discussion later about commentators and why I have avoided them for this post. In my December 2013 and December 2014 posts discussing Schroeder's  book The Science of God I do discuss  some commentators.}

Prior to summarizing Genesis, the evolutionary time line and listing only some of the myriad of differences between Genesis and Evolution there are two over overarching reasons why there is no room for gods within evolution.

First, evolution operates through such natural processes random mutation, co-evolution, natural selection, entropy efficiency... to explain how the various species came to exist. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. According to the principle of Occam’s razor/parsimony supernatural beings should not be added to the equation. They are superfluous. Of course there are gaps in our scientific knowledge, but plugging in supernatural beings is called the god of gaps fallacy. {ETA 7/25/2014 Evolution has no room for a designer. Species were and are still evolving without guidance and  not to some ultimate design. Evolution is governed by randomness, mutation, natural selection, changing environments, myriads of interactions...and is largely unpredictable.}

Second, Genesis has the creation ending on the sixth day, while according to evolution creation is a never ending continuous process.

The Genesis creation story:

Day one - Creates in this order "Heaven and the Earth", Light, "divided light from darkness"

Day two - Makes firmament in the midst of the waters

Day three - Gathers water under the heaven into one place and dry land appears. Grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing fruit.

Day four- Lights in the firmament of the heaven [stars ], sun, moon.

Day five - Living water creatures, flying fowl, sea monsters, creeping creatures, winged fowl 

Day six -  Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind. Male and Female [human]. (Genesis also says god formed Adam from earth and breathed life into him. Then god forms a female from Adam's rib {ETA or maybe side - see discussion below}).

Evolution Time line (from Wikipedia)

for the last 3.6 billion years, simple cells (prokaryotes);
for the last 3.4 billion years, cyanobacteria performing photosynthesis;
for the last 2 billion years, complex cells (eukaryotes);
for the last 1 billion years, multicellular life;
for the last 600 million years, simple animals;
for the last 550 million years, bilaterians, animals with a front and a back;
for the last 500 million years, fish and proto-amphibians;
for the last 475 million years, land plants;
for the last 400 million years, insects and seeds;
for the last 360 million years, amphibians;
for the last 300 million years, reptiles;
for the last 200 million years, mammals;
for the last 150 million years, birds;
for the last 130 million years, flowers;
for the last 60 million years, the primates,
for the last 20 million years, the family Hominidae (great apes);
for the last 2.5 million years, the genus Homo (human predecessors);
for the last 200,000 years, anatomically modern humans.  

Now for some of the incompatibilities of Genesis and Evolution. Arguably the conflicts seem insurmountable.

1) There was no one original human Adam. Evolution has mankind evolving from prior primate species and not created from earth. Human females were not created  from Man's rib {ETA or side}.) 

{ETA 1/10/2015 Somebody questioned me about the female Eve being created out of Adams Rib. Gen 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs (Hebrew root צלע), and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. 22 And the rib (צלע), which the LORD God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man -  So translates the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) 1917.  JPS Jewish Study Bible 2004 by the editors Berlin and Brettler also translates as Rib. Ramban on Gen 2:20 Translated by Rabbi Chavel (1971 edition) also writes Adam's Rib being taken.

Rib is a common translation of the Hebrew word  צלע in these Genesis verses. Another translation is 'side'. The Torah text writes 'one' of, suggesting 'one' from many. If the Torah text meant 'side' it could have written from man's side. There are other Hebrew words for side as well. Rib is a very reasonable translation. Using the translation 'side' will not change the fact the Torah contradicts evolution on the matter.}

{Update 2/19/2014 Religions of the Ancient Near East - Helmer Ringgron (Translated by J. Sturdy) 1973

Page 121 Regarding Assyrian and Babylonian religion:
" It is known that life or the BREATH of life is a gift of the gods, who also have the power to take it back." [My capitalization. Such a notion is found in Genesis.]}


2) Plants evolved after the Sun existed, while Genesis has plants before the Sun.

3) Genesis has first life forms as plants. Evolution has other living forms before plants.
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4) Genesis has fruit-bearing trees before fish were created. Evolution has fish before fruit-bearing trees.

5) Genesis has fruit-bearing trees before say insects. Evolution has insects before fruit-bearing trees

6) The six days of creation is incompatible with the billions of years of the big bang and evolution. Some Apologetics reinterpret days to be something other than normal human observed earth days. But the Torah says  it was  evening and morning  for each day, as if to place human markers and affirm a clear separation of creation events.  Also, which days should be reinterpreted and by how much should they be changed from normal earth days ? By an amount to force fit genesis with whatever is the current scientific theory. This operation is called working backwards.  Human civilization have been around easily over 6 thousand years.

7) Evolution has in this order: Insects, Birds, Flowering plants. Genesis has Flowering Plants then Birds. Genesis has Flowering plants before any Insects. 

8) Seems Genesis has reptiles after birds. But Evolution has birds evolving from reptiles.

{Update 12/29/2013 My post is plain meaning of the Torah/Bible and relying almost solely on Genesis 1:1 through 1:31 the only place I am aware of with a detailed temporal sequence. It may be possible to selectively cite midrash/talmud/commentary/ kabbalah/verses and or reinterpret/speculate  to smooth over many inconsistencies between evolution and science.  However, those same texts themselves are frequently unclear, in conflict with science and even contradictory within themselves. I sincerely doubt that midrash/talmud/commentary/ kabbalah/verses all can be reconciled to provide a consistent internal accounting in any intellectually honest fashion.}

{Update 2/16/2014 To give the reader a sense of the importance,  consider this simple example which can be multiplied thousands of  times. Regarding the Genesis creation story - Beth (meaning the school of) Shammai says the Heaven was created before the Earth. Beth Hillel - the earth was created before the heavens, Rav Simeon says they were created simultaneously. (Midrash Rabbah Genesis 1:15) }

{Update 2/1/2014 Attempts  to "reconcile this 7 day creation story with evolution, geological and cosmological evidence  of the age of the universe are absurd, requiring a twisting of the words of the text in ways they never remotely meant". "Of course the Biblical picture is not a factual, literal account of the universe's  origin. The evidence to this effect is overwhelming". (Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation 2001 by Richard E, Friedman Page 14)}

{ETA 3/23/2106 Understanding Genesis by Nahum Sarna 1966

He translates Gen 1:1 “ When God began to create the Heaven and Earth..”

Beginning Page 2 Regarding Genesis Creation stories:

“It is obvious” none of the stories are based on human memory, nor are they modern science accounts of the physical world’s origin or nature. The stories are Non Scientific. It is a naive and futile exercise to attempt to reconcile Bible creation stories and modern science.  Any “correspondences” discovered or ingeniously established are nothing more than coincidence.  

The book also provide many points of contact with ancient near east mythology with Genesis creation. stories. Beginning page 39 The  Flood story - The Torah used very ancient traditions adapted for it’s own purpose. }

ETA 1/10/2105 Anchor Bible Genesis E.A. Speiser 1964 
Page 9 Regarding Gen 1 - The Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elis - is in striking correspondences in both details and order of the events with Genesis 1.  It is clear the Bible approach is closely related to traditional Mesopotamian beliefs. The similarities include and are in the same order and type of creation: A primeval chaos, Light emanation from gods , firmament creation, dry land creation, luminaries creation, man creation, god resting.
Speiser explains Gen 1 has God creating light.  He goes on to write the Babylonians did not copy the Hebrews since cuneiform accounts such as the Enuma antedate in substance the Bible statements on the subject. There is no basis in fact for assuming an unidentified ultimate source for both Hebrew and Babylonian accounts.

JPS Torah Commentary Genesis by Nahum Sarna
Page 7  Verse 4-Light -  The first creation by God's utterance. The notion of light independent of the sun most likely derives from the observation that the sky is illuminated even on cloudy days and that brightness precedes the rising sun. In both situation no sun is visible. Verse 5 God called - According to the conception in  the ancient near east possessing no name was equivalent to non existence. "Name calling was thus associated with creation and by extension, with domination, for the one who gives a name has power over the object."}

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