Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism

Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism

by Geoffrey Cantor
     
 

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Darwin’s theory of evolution transformed the life sciences and made profound claims about human origins and the human condition, topics often viewed as the prerogative of religion. As a result, evolution has provoked a wide variety of religious responses, ranging from angry rejection to enthusiastic acceptance. While Christian responses to evolution have been

Overview

Darwin’s theory of evolution transformed the life sciences and made profound claims about human origins and the human condition, topics often viewed as the prerogative of religion. As a result, evolution has provoked a wide variety of religious responses, ranging from angry rejection to enthusiastic acceptance. While Christian responses to evolution have been studied extensively, little scholarly attention has been paid to Jewish reactions. Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism is the first extended meditation on the Jewish engagement with this crucial and controversial theory.

The contributors to Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism—from several academic disciplines and two branches of the rabbinate—present case studies showing how Jewish discussions of evolution have been shaped by the intersections of faith, science, philosophy, and ideology in specific historical contexts. Furthermore, they examine how evolutionary theory has been deployed when characterizing Jews as a race, both by Zionists and by anti-Semites. Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism addresses historical and contemporary, as well as progressive and Orthodox, responses to evolution in America, Europe, and Israel, ultimately extending the history of Darwinism into new religious domains.

Editorial Reviews

Journal of the History of Biology
This collection of ten essays supplies an additional and valuable dimension to the literature on the complex relationship between the theory of evolution and religion....[The] book expands our understanding of the diversity of opinions on the relationship of scientific ideas to religious positions. The colection also provides an interesting exploration of how Judaism confronted modernity, as well as how various European writers used evolution to support their concepts of race, racism, and anti-Semitism.

— Paul Lawrence Farber

Quarterly Review of Biology
I feel that this volume will provide fresh perspectives and new ideas to consider for scholars interested in the interaction of evolution and religion.

— Daniel Stoebel

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
[The book] will present the reader used to encountering the debates in an exclusively Christian context with an intersting counterpoint. Both the similarities and the unique aspects of Christian and Jewish responses to Darwinism are instructive.

— Oren Harman

Choice

"These exceptional essays reveal both the depth of the theological issues raised by evolution and the breadth of Jewish responses, yielding a singularly important examination not only of Judaism but of the increasingly complex contemporary interaction of science and religion."

Isis
The shelf of books about Christians and Darwinian evolution is vast. . . . About Jews and Darwinian evolution there is now one book. Happily, it is a very good one. . . . An excellent introduction to the subject, demonstrating its interest and importance with unfailing sophistication.

— Noah Efron

Journal of the History of Biology - Paul Lawrence Farber
"This collection of ten essays supplies an additional and valuable dimension to the literature on the complex relationship between the theory of evolution and religion....[The] book expands our understanding of the diversity of opinions on the relationship of scientific ideas to religious positions. The colection also provides an interesting exploration of how Judaism confronted modernity, as well as how various European writers used evolution to support their concepts of race, racism, and anti-Semitism."
Reports of the National Center for Science Education - Oren Harman
"[The book] will present the reader used to encountering the debates in an exclusively Christian context with an intersting counterpoint. Both the similarities and the unique aspects of Christian and Jewish responses to Darwinism are instructive."
Quarterly Review of Biology - Daniel Stoebel
"I feel that this volume will provide fresh perspectives and new ideas to consider for scholars interested in the interaction of evolution and religion."
Isis - Noah Efron
"The shelf of books about Christians and Darwinian evolution is vast. . . . About Jews and Darwinian evolution there is now one book. Happily, it is a very good one. . . . An excellent introduction to the subject, demonstrating its interest and importance with unfailing sophistication."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226093017
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
09/15/2008
Series:
American Politics and Political Economy Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
507 KB

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Cantor is professor of the history of science at the University of Leeds. Marc Swetlitz has taught history of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oklahoma.

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