Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's So Evil About Evolution?

This Shabbos I finally realized why many religious Jews object to the theory of Evolution. It has nothing to do with the text of the Torah, or with Talmudic pronouncements. It's not about counting years, or the Scientific Method.

Survival of the Fittest is a tautology.

Evolution is not a pre-planned system, where the fittest survive because they knew what they were getting in to. Those who survive and reproduce are "fit" because they were able to survive and reproduce.

Those who aren't "fit" enough get weeded out.

They don't survive.

If you're not fast enough, strong enough, smart enough — you end up dead, and your unique assortment of genes and characteristics don't get passed on to the next generation.

Evolution sneaks up from behind, and picks on the slow, the weak, and the less intelligent. It takes those who can't fight back. It weeds out the back of the herd.

Sound like anyone else we know?


Anonymous sister miryam said...

That's an extremely generous conception. I think they're just ignoramuses who take their cues on how to be frum from Pat Robertson.

3/16/2008 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting theory (although I can't quite tell how serious you are about it).

However, I prefer a sociological explanation: to many Jews, modernity has meant: nationalist antisemitism (Fascism, pan-Arabism and especially Nazism, based on pseudo-scientific racial theories); Marxist antisemitism (especially in the USSR, and again based on pseudo-scientific theories, this time of history, politics and economics); the use of technology to murder on an unprecedented scale (again, by the Nazis); and assimilation driven by the lure of the scientific, modern western world, which is supposedly built on high ethical ideals, but which was apparently willing to let six million Jews die.

To this is added kind of collective post-Holocaust survivor guilt, which sees "the remnant of Yaakov" as inherently inferior in every respect to their murdered brethren/ancestors, resulting in a consciously reactionary way of life, a deliberate attempt to recreate a supposed Golden Age of pure Torah study and a resulting refusal to get involved in anything 'modern,' which our supposedly perfect ancestor-role models could not have known about.

The result is an extreme, reactionary, obscurantist outlook on life, driven as much by emotions (partly anger towards modern western society, but mainly guilt about being alive) as by any logical or theological considerations.

I admit this hypothesis is something of a work in progress in need of a lot more evidential support, but it seems to me to be better than purely theological explanations, which tend to leave unanswered questions about why particular beliefs suddenly become popular.

3/16/2008 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Mar Gavriel said...

יא שַׁבְתִּי וְרָאֹה תַחַת-הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כִּי לֹא לַקַּלִּים הַמֵּרוֹץ וְלֹא לַגִּבּוֹרִים הַמִּלְחָמָה וְגַם לֹא לַחֲכָמִים לֶחֶם וְגַם לֹא לַנְּבֹנִים עֹשֶׁר וְגַם לֹא לַיֹּדְעִים חֵן, כִּי-עֵת וָפֶגַע יִקְרֶה אֶת-כֻּלָּם.

3/16/2008 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Kôheles said...

Sorry, that last comment was me. I was using M.G.'s computer, and forgot to change the name.

3/16/2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger Yehue said...


much, much deeper than that, I fear.

Will have to wait for another day, tho'.

3/16/2008 9:04 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

It's not a tautology at all, you just think so because the statement is so obvious to you. (Related to "What do we need that sun for?! At nighttime, the moon's shining, and during the day, it's light anyway.")

3/17/2008 4:17 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I hate smart people!

3/17/2008 1:11 PM  
Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

So are you saying we have to eliminate the memory of Evolution forever? ;)

3/17/2008 6:23 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

first two commentors:

i wasn't being quite so serious — i was just struck by the similarity.

3/17/2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Mike S said...

Stephen J. Gould once wrote an essay speculating on why William Jennings Bryant, the populist politician and 3 time presidential candidate was so opposed to evolution that he participated in the Scopes trial. He suggested that it was because of Social Darwinism.

3/19/2008 1:41 PM  
Blogger Kylopod said...

"He suggested that it was because of Social Darwinism."

Or maybe it was because he was a fundamentalist Christian?

I should note, though, that he wasn't a young-earth creationist as Inherit the Wind suggested.

3/20/2008 1:22 PM  
Blogger BZ said...

Ironic that some of the same people support Republican economic policies (which would make William Jennings Bryan spin in his grave).

3/24/2008 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big bluff: Hachnasat Kalla

There's a mini-tycoon by the name of Gurvitz originally from London, who is planning on preventing his daughter from getting married tomorrow night to a very choshuve family. He has already hired goons to twice beat up the groom.

He has bullied every Rabbi in the country to bother the family and all of them refuse to be Mesader Kidushin!

Next time someone comes crying to you for Hachnasat Kalla money know that he didn’t lift a finger to prevent this – and may even have helped prevent Hachnasat Kalla in its purest form; a wedding.

Come see with your own eyes at the Reich hotel tomorrow (Tuesday) night how Yidden do real Hachnasat Kalla. Helmets and bullet proof vests are recommended.

Remember: if they don’t get a nice cut then Hachnasat Kalla doesn't count for anything.

4/07/2008 4:13 PM  

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