Where are the lines drawn and where are the camps considered regarding origins questions? Are origins questions considered important matters, or is there something like a concern that too much arguing about the age of the universe is a Christian influence and not the best of Christian influences to be had? If there are young-earth camp(s), does the young earth camp adopt and/or adapt Creation Science, or is that also regarded as a Christian influence that's best not made a fixation?

My apologies for any outsider's clumsiness in asking; I am a Christian and the author of Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design and Origins Questions and The Seraphinians: "Blessed Seraphim Rose" and His Axe-Wielding Converts, and regard Young Earth Creationism and the entire framing I have seen to origins among Christians, as a Protestant influence and not the best of Protestant influences to be had. And this is a point where I would like to understand you, my neighbour.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Jonathan! Consider clarifying which issues you are referring to as "origins". | Also consider clarifying if you are asking about a range of positions themselves, or about meta-positions; positions about the propriety of asking the question in the first place. | If the former, consider checking out judaism.stackexchange.com/q/792/8775. | Also consider noting which elements of young earth creationism you find distasteful, to further clarify the question. – mevaqesh Dec 18 '16 at 2:26
  • Also relevant to the first query, is seforim.blogspot.com/2016/12/… starting from "3. In the archive of R. Isaac Herzog there are a number of letters from R. Herzog relevant to the issue of science and Torah." – mevaqesh Dec 18 '16 at 2:29
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    Hi Jonathan, welcome. :) – David Kenner Dec 18 '16 at 19:17

First, my simple answer:

I am an experienced Rabbi who has worked in the field of outreach. That means I help fellow Jews (and non-Jews) reconnect with G-d. In my humble opinion, this is what I have seen among my fellow Jews over the years when faced with the issues of the age of the universe/evolution/abio-genesis etc. :

In general (among the vast majority of Jews), nobody really gives a care. Jews view spending time on this question as a waste of time. They are not swayed either way by scientific or religious argument. Rather, we just have better things to do with our lives. :)

Detailed answer:

1) Very religious Jews -

A) They are very busy building their lives and communities. If the questions come up, some will simply make fun of science as heresy, and publicly condemn anyone who even considers the question. Simple faith will rule in face of any scientific challenge. Science will be assumed to be the evil secular influence and anyone asking questions will be counseled to strengthen their faith and forget about the question. If they persist, they may even be ostracized and may be removed from the community. Most people in this camp will then simply move on until such a question makes the news again. The vast majority will not care; mostly because no one has the time for it! They have no use to actually answer the question and therefore could care less about YEC. :)

Rarely, those in this camp who delve into these questions are failing in life in other ways and are already hurt by their family/community. So, they use this question as a doorway to rebel/complain or justify leaving the fold. They don't actually care about origins. :) They simply want attention and are wishing people would be kinder to them in life. They are not looking for an answer anyway, and therefore don't care about YEC. :)

B) Another camp among the very religious (a minority) actually likes grappling with science vs. Bible questions. They won't actually care if they can't come up with an answer, because they solidly know G-d is the Creator and its OK if a human doesn't understand how to explain everything. But, they really explore the science and Biblical commentary of the Rabbis on this subject until they are satisfied. When these people check out Christian Young Earth Creationist doctrines, they laugh because it is filled with bad science and some fraud as well. :) They also will subject any Jewish answer to rigorous skepticism and may reject it as well ! However, their faith remains strong. After all, its only a question. :)

2) Secular or non-religious Jews -

A) Most don't care. Its simply irrelevant to life. What's a YEC?? :)

B) Many are proudly Jewish religiously despite their lack of religious observance. Some are nagged by the claims of science which seem to contradict the Biblical position. However, this nagging is something they are proud of as a testament to their own intellectual honesty. The vast majority still believe in G-d and the Bible. They will just assume that if G-d wishes, he will answer the question one day for us. No further effort will be spent on harmonizing the question with the Bible. YEC will either be laughed at as intellectually dishonest or ignored in the first place because they don't need to spend time researching it anyway. :) Jewish solutions will be met with skepticism as well; or rarely find a place of acceptance in their hearts. Either way, they are busy and quickly move on, still believing in G-d.

C) Very non-religious or anti-religious Jews (this is rare) will believe "science is right" and once again disproves the Bible. They also could care less to hear an answer that harmonizes anything. They also continue to attend Synagogue now and then. :) Needless to say, YEC is irrelevant. :)

D) Some in this secular camp of Jews are actually sincerely bothered by origins questions. They are seekers of truth. If they could be convinced, they will become religious! Still I have never seen such people become convinced by Christian YEC. Certainly they will give credit to some YEC ideas, but the whole doctrine seems flawed to them. They find other answers and become religious that way.

In my experience, Jews who honestly want an answer and have the intellectual thirst for it, have found that they will only accept something that agrees to the truth of both science and the Bible while harmonizing both. This usually uses the concept that science is not a religious method, and the Bible is not a science textbook. I think the main difference you will find between YEC and Jewish thought, will be that YEC finds it easier to discredit science as a means to their answers. Jews will be willing to accept science as valid, and try to harmonize both fully; or accept defeat while preserving faith anyway.

I suggest you read "Genesis and the Big Bang" and "The Science of G-d" by professor Gerald Schroeder of MIT. He is an Orthodox Jewish scientist. He is credited with convincing Antony Flew to believe in G-d.(a well known English Atheist/Agnostic philosopher who came up with the famous "...No True Scottsman..." argument) When it happened, the TalkOrigins website went berserk!

"Fossils and Faith" by Professor Natan Aviezer (another Orthodox Jewish scientist) and "Not By Chance" by Dr. Lee Spetner (I believe he is an Orthodox Jew as well) are a great read. These books can give you an insight into how the Jewish mind approaches the origins question as opposed to Christian YEC.

I hope this helps. :)

  • and removed from the community. When does that happen? I think that very few communities even have central religious governance that dictates who is ejected. – mevaqesh Dec 18 '16 at 19:27
  • publicly shunned. having their kids removed from schools etc. I edited. – David Kenner Dec 18 '16 at 19:28
  • That sounds like ostracized, which you mentioned as distinct from removal from community. – mevaqesh Dec 18 '16 at 19:30
  • The vast majority still believe in G-d and the Bible. Really? The vast majority of secular Jews believe this? – mevaqesh Dec 18 '16 at 19:30
  • Yes, in my personal experience in outreach, this is the case. My answer disclaimed that it is based on my experience; not proven statistics. :) – David Kenner Dec 18 '16 at 19:31

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