Confessions of a Creationist by Sara Yoheved Rigler
I always thought creationists were Bible-belt fundamentalists. Denying evolution would put me on their side, and jeopardize my self-image as an East coast Jewish intellectual…
I was thirteen-years-old when I saw the movie, “Inherit the Wind,” a dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial. In 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, a hapless teacher was arrested and tried for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in a public school. Rapt by the movie, which was a fictionalized version of the trial, I watched spindly Frederic March portray the old-fashioned, Bible-thumping prosecutor, William Jennings Bryan, while irresistible Spencer Tracy portrayed Clarence Darrow, brilliantly defending the cause of enlightenment, progress, and science against reactionary fundamentalism.
From the moment I emerged from that movie theatre and for the next thirty years, I was a staunch proponent of evolution. It was logical and scientific. Moreover, it was an axiom among those with whom I chose to identify: East-coast, Jewish intellectuals. Creationists, on the other hand, were narrow-minded, Bible-belt Christian fundamentalists. In college at Brandeis University, we regarded the Creationists as beneath contempt.
I also believed in G-d. And I accepted that His job description included creating the world and sustaining it somehow. I entertained some vague idea that G-d had created the basics, the biological soup or the simplest organisms, and evolution took over from there.
I never read Darwin’s book, “The Origin of Species,” nor any treatise by a neo-Darwinist. I was a liberal arts major. My only university foray into science was the required biology-for-poets course. Robert Shapiro, professor of chemistry at New York University, had not yet written his explosive book, “Origins,” in which he calculated the mathematical probability of human beings evolving on earth to be about the same odds as a gambler, using ordinary dice, rolling 100 trillion consecutive double-sixes (i.e. impossible). Even if the book had been available, I would not have read it. I wasn’t interested in science books.
I knew evolution was true, because everyone I respected believed in it.
Why did the intelligentsia of 19th and 20th century Europe and America jump on Darwin’s bandwagon with such zeal that they accorded this unproven theory the status of law, so that to question evolution became like doubting the law of gravity?
Darwin’s theory was a convenient way to dispose of God. Unlike the gods of the East, Judaism conferred on the Western world a God who gives commandments, who tells you what to do, who impinges on personal freedom. Until Darwin, the Western world was stuck with God. After all, who else could have created the world? And if He did you the favour of creating you, the least you could do was obey His Ten Commandments.
Darwin’s “Origin of Species” liberated more people than Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Darwin’s “Origin of Species” liberated more people than Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. If human beings were the result of chance mutations and survival of the fittest, nobody owed G-d anything. Human beings were free to do as they pleased.
The Talmud makes a knowing remark about such hidden agendas. It says that the Children of Israel never pursued idol worship except in order to “permit themselves” promiscuity. After all, in the Torah God issued dozens of commandments restricting certain sexual relationships. The pagan deities’ idols Baal and Ashera, on the other hand, had no such scruples. In fact, some pagan gods rather liked orgies. Following them meant one could do as one pleased.
Like virtually everyone in the 20th century West, I had grown up with a firm belief in the objectivity of science. Therefore, I was shocked and disillusioned when I read an account of how Albert Einstein, the greatest of all scientists (we stood up in silence in Hebrew school when we received the news of his death, an honour never accorded to any religious or Zionist figure) resisted all the evidence of an expanding universe.
Einstein, in his brilliance, understood that the Big Bang implied some supernatural force that could break through the Law of Inertia and cause the primordial dot which contained all matter and energy to explode.
After examining the data of top astronomers and mathematicians, which all pointed to an expanding universe, Einstein still refused to concede the point, and insisted to a colleague, “I have still not fallen into the hands of priests.” [“G-d and the Astronomers” by Robert Jastrow.]
Even after Edwin Hubble, using the largest telescope in the world, discovered incontrovertible proof of the expanding universe, Einstein continued teaching the static model of the universe for five more years. Only after acceding to Hubble’s request and traveling to Pasadena to personally examine the evidence, did Einstein reluctantly concede, “New observations by Hubble … make it appear likely that the general structure of the universe is not static.”
But to this day, schools and universities continue to teach evolution with a devotion which former societies reserved only for religion. Wishful thinking dies hard.
A PEACH PIT AND AN EGGSHELL
I, too, had a hidden agenda in believing in evolution, although mine was not theological, but sociological. Even years after I had committed myself to observing the commandments of the Torah, I still clung to a belief in evolution. Why? I didn’t want to be one of them. The Creationists, Jerry Falwell and his ilk, made my skin crawl. Denying the Theory of Evolution would have put me on their side of the fence, and jeopardized my image of myself as an enlightened, scientific thinker.
Then I read a thin volume which irrevocably changed my perception. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, in his book “The Universe Testifies,” discusses the humble peach pit.
Could the micro-organisms in the soil know that the peach tree was “evolving” its cement-like sealant?
Pointing out that the peach pit is so hard that no animal can bite into it and harm the delicate seed within, he informs the reader that the cement-like substance which holds the two halves of the peach pit together cannot be dissolved by anything — except a solvent excreted by micro-organisms in the soil.
In the exact right place where the seed needs to be released, Voila! there’s the chemical solvent needed to release it. Could the micro-organisms in the soil know that the peach tree was “evolving” its cement-like sealant? Yet without the soil solvent, the first generation of peach trees would have been the last.
Continuing with his rebuttal of the Theory of Evolution, Rabbi Miller points out that every egg shell must be a precise thickness — strong enough to hold the developing chick or turtle or crocodile within, but thin enough so that the new creature can break its way out at the right moment. Moreover, the egg of each species has to be a different precise thickness, an ostrich egg thicker than that of a wren, etc.
No fossil has ever been found of an egg with the embryo imprisoned inside despite evolutionary theory they exist.
Getting the thickness of the eggshell right (over and over again for each species) cannot be a matter of chance, because if the eggshell were not the perfect thickness the very first generation, there could be no second generation. The baby organism would have been trapped inside the too-thick egg, unable to reproduce. Moreover, no fossil has ever been found of an egg with the embryo imprisoned inside, although evolution assumes millions of such false tries.
“Thousands of degrees of thickness were possible,” Rabbi Miller writes. “That the shell is not too thick and not too thin is incontrovertibly the work of a Designer.”
Bringing dozens of further illustrations of phenomena in nature which simply could not have evolved by chance, Rabbi Miller’s logic devastated my belief in evolution. I was convinced.
I discarded my belief in organisms evolving by chance like taking off a pair of sunglasses. Then a funny thing happened. I saw a different world.
If instead of haphazardly evolving, everything was deliberately designed by God, then EVERYTHING WAS A GIFT OF GOD’S LOVE. It was the difference between receiving a box of chocolates because Hersheys is giving out free samples to today’s first hundred customers, and receiving a box of chocolates as a gift from my husband.
I had always loved flowers. But now, every time I looked at a rose, I felt God’s love for me. The form, the color, the fragrance — none of it had to be there. God had designed it purposely so that human beings would enjoy it. My walks in the Knesset Rose Garden became a rendezvous with God.
When I looked at an orchid, I was no longer blown away just by the beauty of the orchid; I was blown away by the love of a G-d who would design orchids for me to enjoy. When I went to my Senior Prom, I was delighted with the single orchid corsage my date had sent me. But G-d is a much more attentive and generous beau. He lavishes on the world tens of thousands of varieties of orchids.
Now I feel sorry for the Evolutionists. They live in a world of accidental beauty. I live in a world of deliberate love.
For further reading, also see:
“Not By Chance” by Lee Spetner.
“Genesis and the Big Bang” by Gerald Schroeder.
“Evolution: A Theory in Crisis” by Michael Denton.