Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, lived 800 years ago. He was known as one of Judaism’s leading philosophers, a doctor and scientist. His magnum opus was the Yad Hachazaka, a 14-volume work on Jewish law. He authored many other works including “The Guide to the Perplexed,” one of Jewish philosophy's great work. He also authored the Ani Maamin, the 13 Fundamentals of Faith which is a succinct summary of the foundations of Judaic Faith. Therefore it’s logical for us to seek out what he wrote in his works that would help answer our questions about evolution.
If you would've asked a heretic a hundred (or even a thousand) years ago what he believed about the world, you would hear him say, “The world always was; it’s ancient and primordial.” This was the centuries-old equivalent of the theory of evolution that we have today! Many people are unaware that the philosophers and scientists in the olden days all believed that the world was ancient; in other words, a static universe that always existed, forever, with no point of beginning. The heretics also adopted this theory for obvious reasons: “If the world always was then there was no Creator and I owe nothing to anyone! The world always was and that’s it!” This, they felt, let them off the hook. They had a vested interest in their belief.
There were, however, many people who believed in the ancient world idea simply because the philosophers and scientists said so. The philosophers and scientists of yore, similar to what we have today, were granted the blind faith of the masses in everything they said. ”There is nothing new under the sun.” If you have an academic degree, you may consider yourself able to analyze information discard what does not stand up to scrutiny. But when it comes to evolution all these tools used to analyze and scrutinize are generally laid to rest. That is how, in our generation, unfounded theories like evolution become academically supported and accepted “facts,” at least until they are disproven.
Here is more news for those of us who have heard of the “Big Bang Theory.” Thanks to this theory, the “Ancient World Theory” was finally laid to rest only recently, in these past 100 years.
Even Albert Einstein himself originally believed in the ancient “static world” theory. Only Hubble’s discoveries in astronomy in the last 70 years caused Einstein, with most other scientists, to throw the static world theory in the wastebasket. Seeing that all the heavenly bodies are moving away from each other prompted all the scientists to agree that there was a beginning which they called “The Big Bang.” Einstein admitted at the time that his belief in a static world was “the biggest mistake of my life.”
All in all, theories just don’t disappear; rather, they undergo a metamorphosis! The Ancient World theory morphed into the theory of evolution. The same exemption from having a G-d comes into play here, too. Much to our delight, Maimonedes addressed the Ancient World theory in his philosophical work “The Guide to the Perplexed.” His answer there is the same answer we will use today when addressing evolution and the age of the world.
What is his answer?
To be continued…