Darwin Enters Israeli Schools

Monday, June 02, 2014 |  Tsvi Sadan

Only the naïve believe that science can be separated from politics. The 2009 global warming scandal that exposed manipulation and suppression of data in support of politically-correct scientific theory showed for the millionth time that science and politics are, in fact, inseparable.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that when Israel's Ministry of Education announced yesterday that its public school curriculum will now include Darwin's Theory of Evolution, it also stressed that teaching of evolution will not include theories regarding a shared ancestry between humans and apes.

Judaism, much like Christianity, teaches that God created everything as is. Evolution teaches that all life evolved from a single cell that happened to come into being some 3.5 billion years ago.

Millennia before Darwin, before science became the favorite alternative to faith, Jewish interpreters, in almost prophetic anticipation of Darwin, explained that "the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed" (Gen. 2:1), meaning that God created everything completed, or in other words, without the need to evolve. Accordingly, Judaism teaches that Adam and Eve were created as 20-years-old mature adults, not as babies, fetuses or single cells.

The religious view of creation, just like the Theory of Evolution, is all about interpretation of data, not about acceptance of facts. For example, evolution teaches that birds evolved from certain kinds of dinosaurs, even though no fossils exist to complete the link between primordial lizards and the hummingbird. Evolution simply assumes this to be true based on available data.

Creationism and evolution are not science, as neither is able to satisfy the scientific criterion of verified repeated experiments. It is in this light that we should understand Education Committee member Haggai Netzer's clarification that "there is no direct reference to this subject [origin of humans from apes] because it is a very sensitive issue in Israel. There is an attempt here to avoid touching on controversial issues … we must understand that on certain issues the teacher's freedom to choose what to emphasize must be maintained."

This statement is worthy of praise since it demonstrates that Israel is choosing to keep evolution in the appropriate realm of theory. Unlike other countries that teach their pupils evolution as indisputable scientific fact, Israel seems to dislike both religious and secular fundamentalism.

Though there are people in Israel who continue to see the religious communities as primitive and superstitious for holding to the biblical narrative, in this case at least the Ministry of Education has shown a way that does not lead to extremism, division and strife.

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