Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Did Reproduction Evolve?

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Question of the Week:


I'll tell you why I prefer science over religion. The Bible is riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. To accept it you have to have faith. Science on the other hand is a rational system. Why cling to old inaccurate myths like the creation story of Genesis when the theory of evolution provides a clear and logical explanation for the origins of the universe?


Science and religion have far more in common than most give credit. Both require intense study to be understood correctly, and both can be easily misunderstood and dismissed as inaccurate when studied superficially. A cursory reading of the Torah can indeed lead one to think that it makes no sense. But the same applies to science.

I have not studied evolution theory in depth, and so my understanding of it is limited. Such shallow knowledge can easily lead to perceived contradictions. For example, as I understand it, evolution theory posits that life developed gradually from a simple single-celled organism to complex human beings over millions of years and many millions of generations. To me this is a contradiction. For evolution to occur, you need many generations. But then, how did reproduction evolve? Isn't the reproductive system quite complex? So if it takes reproduction to have evolution, how does reproduction itself evolve? Can reproduction evolve gradually over many generations?!?

I am sure this is a stupid question. I cannot even imagine how this could be resolved, but what does a rabbi know about evolution? I can only assume it has been explained by evolutionary scientists. If anyone knows the answer I would love to hear it.

Just as those who haven't studied science should not be surprised when they don't understand scientific theories, so too those who have not studied Torah should not dismiss it as irrational when they come up with questions. The seeming contradictions in the Torah have been known by its sages for millennia, and each one has been reconciled. With careful thought and detailed study, an appreciation for nuance and language, an understanding of context and style, every question has an answer.

Torah study does not ask a probing mind to stop questioning. On the contrary, it requires clear and critical thinking. And after three millennia of some of the world's sharpest minds pulling apart its every word, the Torah is still intact. And the Torah sages themselves encouraged scientific study. For when both Torah and science are studied deeply, both will lead to a better knowledge of G-d, the author of both. 

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss


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