April 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Rabbi Harcsztark Addresses SAR Biology Classes About Judaism, Creation and Evolution

Ninth graders had the privilege of being addressed by Rabbi Harcsztark at the culmination of their study of Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection. It is natural to wonder how to view the scientific explanation of life’s appearance and evolution from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew.

Rabbi Harcsztark told the students how fortunate they are to be in a school where they study the scientific theories and can ask these questions. He explained how this discussion of how one can accept both the science and Torah is a perfect example of the Grand Conversation, which we believe students should engage in throughout their lives, including at SAR High School.

He discussed four strategies that scholars have employed in understanding Torah and science and how the two are related, specifically the approach of the Rambam, quoting, along with the Rambam’s “Guide for the Perplexed,” thinkers as diverse as Kenneth Miller (one of the authors of the students’ biology textbook), Paul Davies, even Pope John Paul II and finally, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Students asked excellent questions such as, “How can we accept the theory of Natural Selection if we believe God created everything purposefully?” and “If the Torah is not a book of science, why does it include an order in describing creation….and why does it include what seems like the incorrect order? For example, how could plants created on Day 3, exist before the creation of the Sun on Day 4?” Rabbi Harcsztark challenged the students to find a pattern and reason for the order that appears in the Torah. The students came up with good answers as he pushed them to think deeper and he shared with them the Rambam’s view on this question.

He told them that our task as Modern Orthodox Jews is to learn Torah and science, to embrace both and not to be afraid. He said one does not have to choose one or the other; that many thinkers today posit that indeed the study of science arose from the belief in God and belief in the order in the universe. He explained that the study of Torah and of science can make us a stronger Jewish community and a strong contributor to society’s understanding of the world.

The students were stretched and stimulated to think and the presentation resulted in an enriching discussion for all!

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles