Guided Evolution and Intelligent Design: A Guide to the Jewish Perspective

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In Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, Alvin Plantinga argues that proponents of naturalism, like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, tell us that, according to the theory of evolution, neither God nor any other agent has designed or created the living world, and that evolution, therefore, clearly contradicts the central tenant of theistic religion (which Dennett labels “entirely gratuitous fantasy” ). If what these experts say is true and we must understand evolution only in the context of naturalistic, unguided evolution, “then evolutionary theory is deeply incompatible with theistic religion, whether Christian…or Jewish.” However, Plantinga stresses that evolution does not need to be interpreted in this way, and that, because of this, religion does not have to be held in such opposition to science at all. Christian and Jewish doctrines require only that “God intended to create creatures of a certain kind…planned that there be creatures of that kind…and acted in such a way as to accomplish this intention,” and such a claim is clearly consistent with evolutionary theory in that naturalism is not a necessary requirement of the theory itself. In this paper I will explore the positions of the Jewish faith with respect to the question of evolutionary theory, and, more explicitly, will draw comparisons between Judaism and Christianity to investigate whether popular religion is as staunchly opposed to evolutionary theory as Dawkins and Dennett propose. If the work of

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