Modern Orthodoxy Holds Its Evolutionary Ground
Rejecting the scope of the ban of Rabbi Eliyashiv and many haredi leaders against Natan Slifkin and his book The Science of Torah, Slifkin launched his “revised edition,” The Challenge of Creation, which seeks to explain why an old earth and evolution is not a contradiction to Orthodox Judaism.Â
But this is clearly not meant to appease the haredim, as is demonstratedÂ byÂ the cover, which is graced by the lovely profile of a skeletal Tyrannosaurs Rex.Â Rather, Challenge of Creation delves into greater explanation of classic sources useful for allowing reconciliation of an old earth and evolution (not Intelligent Design, which Slifkin rejects) and Orthodox Judaism, including those that will allow a “license for non-literal interpretation (p. 21)” of Torah verses when needed.
At the book launch at the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills tonight,Â Rabbi Dr. Weinreb, who alsoÂ wrote the foreword for the book, offered three sectors of Orthodox Jews harmed by the ban andÂ contempt for grappling with science: Baalei Tshuvahs (newly Orthodox Jews), alienated youth, and “those educated to the wonders of sciences.”
Rabbi Gil Student offered three reasons (see his site) why he assesses that the ban against Slifkin is not appropriate for Jews with a different ideological orientation than the haredim, and insisted that, “There are communities for which the books are dangerous, and there are communities for which the ban isÂ dangerous.”
Rabbi SlifkinÂ asserted that his biggest complaint about the ban was that the signers and their supporters “didn’t give an alternate explanation” for the “objective physical reality.”
“Dinosaurs were really there!”
What is critical here is that with all the talk of Modern Orthodoxy moving to the rightÂ – on the core area of disagreement between Modern Orthodox and Haredim – the value of secular education, including science, and scientific method – has not changed, and the Modern Orthodox have not budged one iota.
The Orthodox Union may not be willing to officially attachÂ its name to Rabbi Slifkin or his books, but they are quite willing to have aÂ most senior staff member back him in a significant and public way.
This was a critical fight for the future of Modern OrthodoxyÂ (Normative Judaism), and critical players rose to the occasion.Â Â Carefully and thoughtfully, but valiantly.