Thursday, February 02, 2006

Opponents to Evolution and Christian Influence

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, The Emergence of Ethical Man, p. 6:

Our task now is to investigate the cogency of the almost dogmatic assertion that the Bible proclaimed the separateness of man from nature and his otherness.

It is certain that the fathers of the Church and also the Jewish medieval scholars believed that the Bible preached this doctrine. Medieval and even modern Jewish moralists have almost canonized this viewpoint and attributed to it apodictic validity. Yet the consensus of many, however great and distinguished, does not prove the truth or falseness of a particular belief. I have always felt that due to some erroneous conception, we have actually misunderstood the Judaic anthropology and read into the Biblical texts ideas which stem from an alien source. This feeling becomes more pronounced when we try to read the Bible not as an isolated literary text but as a manifestation of a grand tradition rooted in the very essence of our God-consciousness that transcends the bounds of the standardized and fixed text and fans out into every aspect of our existential experience. The sooner Biblical texts are placed in their proper setting - namely, the Oral Tradition with its almost endless religious awareness - the clearer and more certain I am that Judaism does not accent unreservedly the theory of man's isolationism and separatism within the natural order of things.
Before someone suggests that the Oral Tradition takes the Creation story literally, keep in mind that R. Soloveitchik was very cognizant of Rambam's tripartite division of those who study aggadah and would certainly not be among those who take every midrash at its simple face value.

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