Q. How does Judaism reconcile creation with evolution?
Among Jewish writers, some adamantly reject all evolutionary theories. They insist that each part of creation was brought into being in a finished state.
Did the original trees have rings, which are normally an indication of a tree’s age? Yes, we are told, because that is the definition of a tree. Why do fossils exist? They are relics of what was wiped out in the flood.
Another approach comes from the Tiferet Yisrael (Israel Lipschitz) at the end of Mishnah Nezikin. He accepts that prehistoric relics really are eons old, but they date from the many generations which existed before the world as we know it: God, said the rabbis, “created worlds and destroyed them” before settling on this one.
Two well known theories are more directly sympathetic to evolution; JH Hertz agreed that creation came in a process of gradual ascent, but not as the result of chance but by the Divine will. Rav Kook believed the whole world is in constant movement and evolution towards final perfection.
MM Kasher however, raises two objections. It is not necessary, he argues, to make concessions to evolutionary theory, since evolution has not been decisively proved. Nor is any concession possible, because the plain meaning of Scripture excludes it.
In reply to Rav Kook, he says the evolution of the human spirit has no necessary connection with the development of physical species.