Evolution and Religion
Did you see the quote from a Vatican Cardinal in today's newspaper? Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the Church does not reject scientific reality, and that it is absurd to assert that acknowledging evolution precludes belief in God as Creator of the universe. "We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is the Creator of all things," he said. He's right.
I was delighted to read the Cardinal's words. He said in his way what I have believed and taught for years, which is the more we learn through science about how the universe came to be, the more we know about how God did it.
The Torah is not a scientific book about the origins of the universe. One might say the Torah is the answer to the post-creation question "Now what?" Nevertheless, I am fascinated by the nature of Chapter One of Genesis. Unlike previous pagan theologies, Torah has no account of the origins of God. God transcends time. God always was. The creation story could depict this omnipotent God bringing the universe into existence in countless ways. Torah depicts God as doing it in stages, in a process one might describe as evolutionary. Certainly life begins in non-human form, and the creative process culminates in the emergence of human life.
Today, we have an especially intriguing possibility to ponder. Do you remember how the creation story begins? God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. The light mentioned cannot be the light of the sun. The Torah defers the creation of celestial bodies until Day Four, thus eliminating the possibility of them being seen as partner gods and creators. To what light, then, does Genesis refer? Throughout history, it has been understood to be the Light of the Divine Presence. But we live at a time in which we can speculate whether Genesis somehow managed to refer to the Big Bang. Amazing.
Cardinal Levada is saying that evolution was God's way of creating the universe. Tov dibarta, Cardinal. Well spoken.
Until next time, Shalom.