Jewish views on evolution includes a continuum of views about the theory of evolution, experimental evolution, the origin of life, age of the universe, evolutionary creationism, and theistic evolution. Today, many Jewish people accept the theory of evolution and do not see it as incompatible with traditional Judaism, reflecting the emphasis of prominent rabbis such as the Vilna Gaon and Maimonides on the ethical rather than factual significance of scripture.
Biblical chronology indicates that God completed the creation of the world close to 6,000 years ago. This age is reflected in the chronology developed in a midrash, Seder Olam, but a literalist reading of the Book of Genesis is rare in Judaism. This age is attributed to the tanna Jose ben Halafta, and covers history from the creation of the universe to the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Dr. Gerald Schroeder interprets Nachmanides description of the 6 days of creation in conjunction with Einstein's relativistic view of time applied to the expansion of space-time to say that the 6 days of creation are 15.75 Billion years from our perspective.
Most modern rabbis believe that the world is older than 6,000 years. They believe such a view is needed to accept scientific theories, such as the theory of evolution. Rabbis who have this view base their conclusions on verses in the Talmud or in the midrash. For example:
In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbi Bahya ben Asher (11th century, Spain) concludes that there were many time systems occurring in the universe long before the spans of history that man is familiar with. Based on the Kabbalah he calculates that the Earth is billions of years old.
Some medieval philosophical rationalists, such as Maimonides and Gersonides held that not every statement in Genesis is meant literally. In this view, one was obligated to understand Torah in a way that was compatible with the findings of science. Indeed, Maimonides, one of the great rabbis of the Middle Ages, wrote that if science and Torah were misaligned, it was either because science was not understood or the Torah was misinterpreted. Maimonides argued that if science proved a point that did not contradict any fundamentals of faith, then the finding should be accepted and scripture should be interpreted accordingly. For example, in discussing Plato's view that the universe has existed literally forever, he argued that there was no convincing rational proof one way or the other, so that he (Maimonides) was free to accept, and therefore did accept, the literal biblical view that the universe came into being at a definite time; but that had Plato's theory been convincing enough with sufficient scientific proof he would have been able to reinterpret Genesis accordingly. With regard to Genesis, Maimonides stated that "the account given in scripture is not, as is generally believed, intended to be in all its parts literal." Later in the same paragraph, he specifically states that this applies to the text from the beginning to the account of the sixth day of creation.
Nachmanides, often critical of the rationalist views of Maimonides, pointed out (in his commentary to Genesis) several non-sequiturs stemming from a literal translation of the Bible's account of Creation, and stated that the account actually symbolically refers to spiritual concepts. He quoted the Mishnah in Tractate Hagigah which states that the actual meaning of the Creation account, mystical in nature, was traditionally transmitted from teachers to advanced scholars in a private setting. Many classic Kabbalistic sources mention Shmitot—cosmic cycles of creation, similar to the Indian concept of yugas. Nachmanides' disciple, Isaac ben Samuel of Acre, a prominent Kabbalist of 13th-century, held that the Universe is about 15 billion years old. According to the tradition of Shmitot, Genesis talks openly only about the current epoch, while the information about the previous cosmic cycles is hidden in the esoteric reading of the text.
A literal interpretation of the biblical Creation story among classic rabbinic commentators is uncommon. Thus Bible commentator Abraham ibn Ezra (11th century) wrote,
If there appears something in the Torah which contradicts reason…then here one should seek for the solution in a figurative interpretation…the narrative of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for instance, can only be understood in a figurative sense.
One of several notable exceptions may be the Tosafist commentary on Tractate Rosh Hashanah, where there seems to be an allusion to the age of creation according to a literal reading of Genesis. The non-literal approach is accepted by many as a possible approach within Modern Orthodox Judaism and some segments of Haredi Judaism.
Rashi, while his commentary on the verses describing the days of creation teaches them as literal days, brackets his discussion of Genesis ch. 1 with comments stating that the entire world was created at once, with no duration of existence before Adam being specified.
In the 13th century, Rabbi Isaac ben Samuel of Acre made the insight that, since Sabbatical cycles existed before man was created, time before Adam and Eve must be measured in divine years, not human years. Psalm 90:4 says, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night." Like Livnat Ha-Sapir, he held that we are in the seventh Sabbatical cycle and therefore took the above figure of 42,000 years and multiplied it by 365,250 (he was using a 365.25-day year) to get 15,340,500,000 years for the age of the universe when Adam was created.
Rabbi Elijah Benamozegh, an Italian Kabbalist, changed his position over time with respect to evolutionary theory. His views went through three stages, corresponding to his engagement with ideas of transmutation in three key works, namely, the Hebrew biblical commentary Em leMikra (1862–1865), the Italian theological treatise, Teologia Dogmatica e Apologetica (1877), and his posthumous great work in French, Israël et l'humanité (1914). Benamozegh came to view Darwin's account of the common descent of all life as evidence in support of kabbalistic teachings, which he synthesized to offer a majestic vision of cosmic evolution, with radical implications for understanding the development of morality and religion itself. In the context of the creation-evolution debate in Europe, Benamozegh's significance is as the earliest traditionalist Jewish proponent of a panentheistic account of evolution. From the time of his earliest work on the subject, he wrote that were evolution to become a mainstay of scientific theory, it would not contradict the Torah as long as one understood it as having been guided by God.
Rabbi Israel Lipschitz of Danzig (19th century) gave a famous lecture on Torah and paleontology, which is printed in the Yachin u-Boaz edition of the Mishnah, after Massechet Sanhedrin. He writes that Kabbalistic texts teach that the world has gone through many cycles of history, each lasting for many tens of thousands of years. He links these teachings to findings about geology from European, American and Asian geologists, and from findings from paleontologists. He discusses the wooly mammoth discovered in 1807 Siberia, Russia, and the remains of several then-famous dinosaur skeletons recently unearthed. Finding no contradiction between this and Jewish teachings, he states "From all this, we can see that all the Kabbalists have told us for so many centuries about the fourfold destruction and renewal of the Earth has found its clearest possible confirmation in our time."
When scientists first developed the theory of evolution, this idea was seized upon by rabbis such as Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, known as the Netziv, who saw Kabbalah as a way to resolve the differences between traditional readings of the Bible and modern day scientific findings. He proposed that the ancient fossils of dinosaurs were the remains of beings that perished in the previous "worlds" described in midrash and in some Kabbalistic texts. This was the view held by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1934–1983).
In the late 1880s, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, an influential leader in the early opposition to non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, wrote that while he did not endorse the idea of common descent (that all life developed from one common organism), even if science ever did prove the factuality of Evolution, it would not pose a threat to Orthodox Judaism's beliefs. He posited that belief in evolution could instead cause one to be more reverent of God by understanding His wonders (a master plan for the universe).
This will never change, not even if the latest scientific notion that the genesis of all the multitudes of organic forms on earth can be traced back to one single, most primitive, primeval form of life should ever appear to be anything more than what it is today, a vague hypothesis still unsupported by fact. Even if this notion were ever to gain complete acceptance by the scientific world, Jewish thought, unlike the reasoning of the high priest of that notion, would nonetheless never summon us to revere a still extant representative of this primal form as the supposed ancestor of us all. Rather, Judaism in that case would call upon its adherents to give even greater reverence than ever before to the one, sole God Who, in His boundless creative wisdom and eternal omnipotence, needed to bring into existence no more than one single, amorphous nucleus and one single law of "adaptation and heredity" in order to bring forth, from what seemed chaos but was in fact a very definite order, the infinite variety of species we know today, each with its unique characteristics that sets it apart from all other creatures. (Collected Writings, vol. 7 pp. 263–264)
By the early to mid-1900s, the majority of Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism came to accept the existence of evolution as a scientific fact. They interpreted Genesis and related Jewish teachings in light of this fact.
The proponents of Reform or progressive forms of Judaism had consistently claimed since the early nineteenth-century that they sought to reconcile Jewish religion with the best of contemporary scientific thought. The science of evolution was arguably the scientific idea that drew the most sustained interest. A good example is the series of twelve sermons published as The Cosmic God (1876) by the founder of American Reform Judaism, Isaac Meyer Wise, who offered an alternative theistic account of transmutation to that of Darwinism, which he dismissed as "homo-brutalism". Other Reform rabbis who were more sympathetic to Darwinian conceptions of evolution were Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch, and Joseph Krauskopf. These engaged with high profile sceptics and atheists such as Robert Ingersoll and Felix Adler as well as with proponents of biological evolutionary theory, with the result that a distinctly panentheistic character of US Reform Jewish theology was observable. Emil G. Hirsch wrote:
In notes clearer than ever were entoned by human tongue does the philosophy of evolution confirm essential verity of Judaism’s insistent protest and proclamation that God is one. This theory reads unity in all that is and has been. Stars and stones, planets and pebbles, sun and sod, rock and river, leaf and lichen are spun of the same thread. Thus the universe is one soul, One spelled large. If throughout all visible form one energy is manifest and in all material shape one substance is apparent, the conclusion is all the better assured which holds this essentially one world of life to be the thought of one all embracing and all underlying creative directive mind. ... I, for my part, believe to be justified in my assurance that Judaism rightly apprehended posits God not, as often it is said to do, as an absolutely transcendental One. Our God is the soul of the Universe. ... Spinozism and Judaism are by no means at opposite poles.
Similarly, Joseph Krauskopf wrote:
According to our definition, God is the finitely, conceivable Ultimate, the Cause of all and the Cause in all, the Universal Life, the All-Pervading, All-Controlling, All-Directing Power Supreme, the Creator of the universe and the Governor of the same according to eternal and immutable laws by Him created. All existence is part of His existence, all life is part of His life, all intelligence is part of His intelligence, all evolution, all progress is part of His plan.
Lucien Wolf (1857–1930) was a celebrated journalist, diplomat, and communal authority, acting as a committee member of the conjoint committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association and the British Board of Deputies, the two representative bodies of Anglo-Jewry. He wrote "What is Judaism? A Question of To-day" in The Fortnightly Review (1884) in response to the biological-racist anti-Semitism of Goldwin Smith, and accepted Smith's premises (that the Jews were a biological race shaped by a religion that was, in its essence, merely legalism), with a strategy had been to attempt to reverse the value judgment. Wolf understood evolution in the strongly progressive sense that was common to much Victorian thought, with the environment selecting for traits that would maximize racial hygiene and permanently and continually improve the character of the Jewish race over time. Wolf asserted that "the optimism of Judaism" as "expressed in "legalism" gave Jews a 30% or 40% advantage over those of other religions and creeds, and not only explained their survival over the ages but actually represented an important moment in the story of human evolution. The "wisdom and power" of Judaism had enabled it to "accomplish of itself a distinct step in the history of the human species."
Joseph Jacobs (1854–1916) was a writer and social scientist appointed to Jewish Theological Seminary in New York towards the end of his life. He produced pioneering cross-disciplinary work in history, statistics, and race science, and was a student of anthropology at the Statistical Laboratory at University College London in the 1880s under the eugenicist Francis Galton. Jacobs was one for whom Judaism and Jewish identity made no sense apart from evolutionary thought. He offered an evolutionary account of Jewish history that suggested branching developments within the Jewish religion, and he explored the issue of Jewish race and peoplehood from both anthropological and sociological perspectives as a means by which to confront the anti-Semitic stereotypes of his day. He compiled measurements of skulls sizes, analyzed nose shapes, and carefully tabulated various vital statistics, wealth distribution, and even genius per capita in his application of the eugenic science of Galton, his tutor. For example, in attempting to explain the high number of children per Jewish family, Jacobs tentatively suggested that this could be explained by the relatively high frequency of marriages between cousins, which he hazarded were more fertile than mixed marriages. The high proportion of male births, which Jacobs noted that Darwin had commented upon in his Descent of Man, however exaggerated by poor statistics, nevertheless appeared to be "one of the few biostatical phenomena which seem to be distinctively racial." Despite this, Jacobs insisted that the over-arching framework and context for his pursuit of the quantitative science was always a qualitative historical one, and one might therefore argue that, as such, his work represents the first truly interdisciplinary answer to the question: what is a Jew?
Both Wolf and Jacobs presented Judaism as a case study for the investigation of the role of religion in human evolution, thereby humanizing and universalizing the Jew at the same time. Both men believed that by viewing Jewish religion through the prism of evolutionary theory they could construe Jewish difference in such a way as to counter the threat to assimilation posed by racial antisemitism.
Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983) and Hans Jonas (1903–1993) were two influential Jewish religious thinkers of the twentieth century who engaged seriously with scientific knowledge and, in particular, with Darwinism. The writings of two twentieth-century New York-based religious thinkers shared a common concern to find an alternative approach to the problem of evil in general and to the religious challenge of the Shoah in particular.
For Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, it was possible to draw upon his already well-developed, scientifically augmented (or inspired) revisions of the Jewish religion and the Jewish God. Kaplan's writings from the 1930s onwards manifest an interest in evolution in at least four different although related contexts. First, evolution, in the sense of development or change, is used as a justification for Kaplan's reconstructionist project; Judaism is a living organism transforming and adapting to its changing environment. Second, evolution is presented as a divine process or principle that brings order out of chaos, in the sense of the volution of the cosmos. Third, the biological evolution of mankind. The evolution of plant and animal life, including human life, by means of Darwinian natural selection was a given, as far as Kaplan was concerned, although there is no doubt that in his mind natural selection was inadequate to explain human evolution in its entirety—or, at least, those aspects of human evolution that Kaplan was most interested in, namely, the ethics of a community. This led him to develop his theory of "spiritual selection," which added a complementary—and competing—force for selection to the mix of evolutionary pressures that shaped human evolution, including natural selection and sexual selection. Fourth, Kaplan discusses evolution in relation to what we would now call Social Darwinism, that is, the application of a theoretical framework for organic biology to human society, and in particular the Nazi theory of race competition. Kaplan, as one might expect, is hostile to such ideologies, but his key reason is that they threaten to undermine his understanding of humans as partners with the divine in bringing meaning and order to the universe.
For the philosopher of technology, Jonas, the revisions to the traditional categories of Jewish theology arguably followed from his struggle to make some kind of moral sense of the Holocaust in the light of his interest in the biological emergence of selfhood. For Jonas, Darwin's key contribution was to raise the value of non-human life: "The affront to human dignity posed by the [Darwinian] theory of man's descent from animals provoked outrage, but this reaction overlooked the fact that the same principle restored a degree of dignity to the phenomenon of life as a whole. If man is related to the animals, then the animals are also related to man and therefore, in degrees, possess that inwardness which man, their most highly advanced relative, is aware of in himself." In a 1968 essay entitled "The Concept of God After Auschwitz: A Jewish Voice" he envisions a God who, in the beginning and for unknowable reasons, had committed Himself to a cosmic experiment in "chance and risk and [the] endless variety of becoming." This God, who contained the cosmos but was not to be identified with it, as is made explicit in an earlier version, had created it by establishing the physical and biological laws that unfolded over time and space without any divine direction or correction and without foreknowledge of how it would develop. The cosmos was left to itself, to play out according to natural laws and probability, with God having withdrawn Himself completely from the process. Following the surprising emergence of life (described as "the world accident for which the becoming deity had waited"), blind evolutionary forces had eventually generated the human mind with its capacity for "knowledge and freedom," that is, for moral choice. The dead cosmos became the living cosmos, and the living cosmos became the moral cosmos. With the human, the organism had moved beyond existence-for-its-own-sake to existence-for-the-sake-of-others, that is, an existence premised upon responsibility for others and for the cosmos itself, which had given birth to life and morality (as he puts it: "self-fulfilling life has given way to the charge of responsibility"). According to this account, God had found a partner in creation, in that the universe would no longer develop only according to the amoral natural laws by which He had established it, but could be radically altered by the self-aware, self-determined actions of humans, whether these deeds took place in ethical or material dimensions. To the extent that God was to be regarded as the ground of all being, containing the cosmos within Himself, those human deeds that shaped the world also affected God: "In the awesome impact of his deeds on God's destiny … lies the immortality of man." By the time Jonas arrives at a consideration of the Holocaust, he is able to explain God's silence at Auschwitz as the necessary consequence of the Creator's absence from His creation.
At the heart of the visions of both Kaplan and Jonas was a kind of cosmic evolutionism that necessitated an understanding of the origins of human ethics from an evolutionary perspective. While neither could be said to have demonstrated an intimate understanding of Darwinian theory, both viewed themselves as critically engaged with it and sought to utilize Darwin in offering accounts of a genocidal world that were neither entirely naturalistic nor entirely supernatural.
The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has "maintained that evolutionary theory, properly understood, is not incompatible with belief in a Divine Creator, nor with the first 2 chapters of Genesis." Prominent Orthodox rabbis who have affirmed that the world is older, and that life has evolved over time include Israel Lipschitz, Sholom Mordechai Schwadron (the MaHaRSHaM) (1835–1911), Zvi Hirsch Chajes (1805–1855) and Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935). (Kook was interested in evolution partly as a bridge between religious and secular Zionists.) These rabbis proposed their own versions of theistic evolution, in which the world is older, and that life does evolve over time in accord with natural law, painting natural law as the process by which God drives the world.
There is, in parallel, a discussion on this subject by scientists in the Orthodox Jewish community. One of the most prominent is Gerald Schroeder, an MIT trained physicist. He has written a number of articles and popular books attempting to reconcile Jewish theology with modern scientific findings that the world is billions of years old and that life has evolved over time. His work has received approbations from a number of Orthodox rabbinic authorities. Other physicists writing on this topic include Alvin Radkowsky, Nathan Aviezer, Herman Branover, Cyril Domb, Aryeh Kaplan and Yehuda (Leo) Levi.
Various popular works, citing an array of classical, Orthodox views, attempt to reconcile traditional Jewish texts with modern scientific findings concerning evolution, the age of the earth and the age of the Universe; these include:
Conservative Judaism embraces science as a way to learn about the world, and, like Modern Orthodox and Reform Judaism, has not found the theory of evolution a challenge to traditional Jewish theology. The Conservative Jewish movement has not yet developed one official response to the subject, but a broad array of views has converged. Conservative Jews teach that God created the universe and is responsible for the creation of life within it, but proclaims no mandatory teachings about how this occurs.
Many Conservative rabbis embrace the term theistic evolution, and reject the term intelligent design. Conservative rabbis who use the term intelligent design in their sermons often distinguish their views from the Christian use of the term. Like most in the scientific community, they understand "intelligent design" to be a technique by Christians to insert religion into public schools, as admitted in the Intelligent design movement's "wedge strategy".
Conservative Judaism strongly supports the use of science as the proper way to learn about the physical world in which we live, and thus encourages its adherents to find a way to understand evolution in a way that does not contradict the findings of scientific research. The tension between accepting God's role in the world and the findings of science, however, is not resolved, and a wide array of views exists. Some mainstream examples of Conservative Jewish thought are as follows:
Rabbi Michael Schwab writes:
The claim that evolution is purposeful is in conflict with modern-day evolutionary theory. The precise way in which God inserts design is not specified by Schwab or other rabbis.
Rabbi Lawrence Troster is a critic of positions such as this. He holds that much of Judaism (and other religions) have not successfully created a theology which allows for the role of God in the world and yet is also fully compatible with modern-day evolutionary theory. Troster maintains that the solution to resolving the tension between classical theology and modern science can be found in process theology, such as in the writings of Hans Jonas, whose view of an evolving God within process philosophy contains no inherent contradictions between theism and scientific naturalism.
In a paper on Judaism and environmentalism, Troster writes:
Whilst the Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox movements have stated that they feel there is not a conflict between evolutionary theory and the teachings of Judaism, some Haredi rabbis have remained staunchly opposed to certain teachings in evolutionary theory. In contrast with the literalist biblical interpretation of some Christian creationists, they express an openness to multiple interpretations of Genesis, through Jewish oral tradition and Jewish mysticism. They have also expressed an openness to evolutionary theory in biology, except where they perceive that it is in conflict with the Torah's account of creation.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller, a highly revered American Haredi rabbi of the Lithuanian Yeshivah Tradition, who was also highly respected in Hasidic communities such as Satmar, was strongly opposed to the theory of evolution, and wrote strong polemics against evolution in several of his books, as well as speaking about this subject often in his popular lectures, taking a Creationist position. Several selections from his books on this subject were collected in a pamphlet he published in 1995 called "The Universe Testifies".
Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel, writes a weekly column that is widely syndicated in the Jewish press. As an opponent of Darwinian evolutionary theory, Shafran is careful to distinguish the Jewish perspective from that of Christian fundamentalism. He writes, "An unfortunate side-effect of our affirmation of purpose in creation at a time of controversy is the assumption made by some that we believing Jews share some other groups’ broader skepticism of science. But while Torah-faithful Jews reject the blind worship of science, we do not regard science as an enemy." Quite the contrary, Shafran remarks, Judaism seeks to learn as much as possible from God's creation.
Shafran also rejects the literalism of Christian fundamentalism. He writes, "Nor is 'Biblical literalism' a Jewish approach. Many are the p’sukim (verses) that do not mean what a simple reading would yield." To Shafran, the Jewish oral tradition is the key to the true meaning of the Torah's words. "There are multiple levels of deeper meanings inaccessible to most of us. The words of Breishis (Genesis, Ashkenazi Hebrew) and the Midrashim thereon hide infinitely more than they reveal. It is clear that the Torah describes the creation of the universe as the willful act of HaKodosh Boruch Hu (the Holy One), and describes creation as having unfolded in stages. But details are hardly provided."
Some contemporary Orthodox Jews writers are concerned that if evolution is accepted as true, then it could lead to the Torah being deemed not only irrelevant but also false. Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb has argued that for Jews accepting evolution is equivalent to accepting atheism. The Israeli microbiologist Morris Goldman has written that Darwinism is a problem for Judaism, since Darwinism makes god irrelevant. Other issues are that evolution can provide a non religious basis for the development of morality, and it removes the idea that humans are qualitatively different from other animals.
In 2004-2005, three popular books by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (sometimes pronounced Nosson Slifkin) were banned by a group of Haredi rabbinic authorities on the grounds that they were heretical. Known to his admirers as the "Zoo Rabbi," Nosson Slifkin was the author of The Torah Universe, a series of books on science and religion that were widely read in Orthodox communities until they were suddenly banned. "The books written by Nosson Slifkin present a great stumbling block to the reader," the ban declared. "They are full of heresy, twist and misrepresent the words of our sages and ridicule the foundations of our emunah (faith)." The ban, which prohibited Jews from reading, owning, or distributing Slifkin's books, prompted a widespread backlash in the Orthodox Jewish community.
Jennie Rothenberg, reporting on this ban in the secular Jewish journal, Moment, asserted that the incident represents a major breaking point within ultra-Orthodox society. Rothenberg interviewed several rabbis who wished to remain anonymous. According to one of them, "Over the past 15 years, the rabbis of Bnai Brak and the more open American ultra-Orthodox rabbis have been split on a number of important policy decisions. The Slifkin ban is a huge break. It’s a kind of power struggle, and those who didn’t sign the ban are outraged right now. I’m talking about rabbis with long white beards who are furious about it." Slifkin's views, according to this rabbi, are shared by countless figures within the ultra-Orthodox community. "He’s saying out loud what a lot of people have been talking about quietly all along. To those people, he’s a kind of figurehead."
Several Modern Orthodox Jewish scientists have interpreted creation in light of both modern scientific findings and rabbinical interpretations of Genesis. Each of these scientists have claimed that modern science actually confirms a literal interpretation of Torah. All of them accept the scientific evidence that the age of the Earth and the age of the universe are on a scale of billions of years, and all of them acknowledge that the diversity of species on Earth can be explained through an evolutionary framework. However, each of them interprets certain aspects of evolution or the emergence of modern humans as a divine process, rather than a natural one. Thus, each of them accepts an evolutionary paradigm, while rejecting some aspects of Darwinism. Shai Cherry writes, "While twentieth century Jewish theologians have tended to compartmentalize science and the Torah, our Modern Orthodox physicists synthesized them.
Shai Cherry, Professor of Jewish Thought at Vanderbilt University, remarks that these Modern Orthodox scientists have rejected the approach taken by Jewish theologians. Theologians have tended to use later writings, such as Midrash and Kabbalah, to reconcile modern science with Genesis. The Orthodox scientists, by comparison, have largely ignored Jewish theology, in favor of a fundamentalist and literalist interpretation of Genesis. Yet in their writings, each of them seeks to reconcile science with Genesis. Cherry speculates, "They were targeting an American Jewish community that privileges science over Torah as a source of scientific knowledge. If Genesis could be shown to have anticipated Darwin or Einstein, then the Bible would regain an aura of truth that it had been losing since the advent of biblical criticism and modern science."
According to Cherry, the books of Aviezar, Schroeder, and Landa have each sought to strengthen Orthodox Jewry in a time of mounting secularization. Aviezar and Schroeder sought to prove that Genesis anticipates the findings of modern science, and thus increase its status. By contrast, Landa sought to remove a barrier to Orthodox commitment, by proving to secular Jews that Orthodox Judaism and modern science are compatible. At the same time, he sought to persuade students in his own Orthodox community that the study of science is not incompatible with commitment to Orthodoxy.
Nathan Robertson a researcher in Biophysics has also released a book titled "The First Six Days" which claims to reconcile the scientific theory of the beginnings of the universe and life with the biblical account of creation. Rabbinical sources are cited from Nachmanides (Ramban) and Rashi along with kabbalistic interpretations of Genesis. Nathan reconciles Darwinian evolution with the biblical account and states that at deeper levels of understanding of the biblical text and of scientific theory, the two worlds overlap. "As one studies science to deeper levels and also tries to study Bereshis [Genesis] to deeper levels, both principles begin to converge on each other."
The movement for intelligent design claims that an intelligent creator is responsible for the origin of life and of humankind, and rejects evolution. Jewish theologians, organizations, and activists have maintained that intelligent design is not valid science but that it is a religious concept. Although some have expressed support for a theistic interpretation of evolution, they have generally rejected the tenets of the intelligent design movement. To Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, intelligent design is "their attempt to confirm what they already believe." Jewish organizations in the United States have been steadfast in their opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, charging that to do so would violate the separation of church and state.