We Are Not Alone — Orthodox Judaism and Evolution

Conservative Christians are often lampooned as the last hold-outs against the supposedly invincible theory of evolution. This is untrue on several counts. First, surveys consistently demonstrate that the vast majority of Americans reject Darwinian evolution as the explanation of human origins. Second, with specific reference to major religious groups, Orthodox Judaism is also steadfastly opposed to evolutionary theory.

A recent article in Skeptic magazine lamants and documents this fact after looking at the beliefs of students who are Orthodox Jews. The article, “Orthodox Jews and Science: An Empirical Study of their Attitudes Toward Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Modern Geology,” by Alexander Nussbaum, reveals that Orthodox Jewish students remain opposed to evolution even after study in secular institutions.

Here is the abstract of the article:

Denial of evolution is a defining characteristic of education in Orthodox Judaism. But what does the most modern segment of Orthodox Judaism — the small number of students permitted to go to a public university and be exposed to non-censored scientific knowledge — believe about evolution and other scientific issues? The sample of 176 Orthodox Jewish students surveyed showed almost complete denial of evolution and other central tenets of modern science (such as the age of the universe); the survey also revealed that these students received their scientific beliefs not from their college science courses, but from rabbinical authorities, or from Orthodox Jewish scientists, who in turn propagate the anti-science views of rabbinical authorities. Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey was that the Orthodox Jewish students who were science majors were even less accepting of mainstream science than those who were not science majors.

The full article is available online here.