Why does it always seem like religious disputes arise
over the smallest and most unimportant details?
Take this whole controversy over Rabbi Slifkin and his
books. As I understand it, the reason why his works
were banned was because he postulated that animals may
have evolved from earlier creatures and that the
universe may be more than 5765 years old.
But is it really so important? It's not like Rabbi
Slifkin is saying that God doesn't exist. It's not
like he's saying that Creation wasn't a Divine event.
If you asked him, I'm sure he'd say that yes,
creatures evolved, but did not do so randomly, but
under the plan and guidance of the Almighty.
In short, is it really so important whether God pulled
a chicken out of the "dust of the earth" or from an
ancient reptilian ancestor?
The point of Beraishis (Genesis), and the point of
Yiddishkeit in general, is that God created the
universe and all the wonders that exist therein. It
really doesn't make that much of a difference whether
He did it with a Big Bang or if He did it by waving
some magic wand. It's missing the point entirely.
The whole dispute and debate reminds me of Jonathan
Swift's Gullviers Travels. In the book, Gulliver
visits the land of Lilliput. The Lilliputians are
engaged in a terrible war with their neighbor
Blefescu. And what was the war over? It was over
whether eggs should be opened on the narrow end or the
Of course, Swift had some organized religions in mind
when he wrote Gulliver's Travels. :)
At least I can take comfort in the fact that Judaism
alone isn't subject to this irrational madness. After
all, Gallileo was persecuted by the Church simply for
expressing preference for the Copernican model of the
Solar System. Nowhere did Gallileo state that God
didn't exist or that the Christian Messiah wasn't his
son. All he did was observe the evidence that he had
and concluded that the model of the Solar System as
postulated by Copernicus was correct. And for that,
he went through all his troubles.
So, did animals evolve from lesser animals? Have
there been millions of years since the Big Bang, or
only 5765 years since the Creation of the World?
Truth to tell, it probably doesn't matter all that
much. The point of Beraishis is that there is a
Creator and Someone who guides the world in Creation.
Anything else is niggling over small details and
missing the forest for the trees.