Friday, June 09, 2006

Letter in Jewish Press

The following was published in the Jewish Press not so long ago:

Censoring Evolution

I am the one who inadvertently ignited the firestorm in The Jewish Press about evolution; it was not even the main point of
my original letter but for some inexplicable reason that is what readers seized upon (Letters, Nov. 25).
At first I was flattered at all the attention and bemused that so many otherwise intelligent people could brush aside mountains
of evidence and deny one of the most robust and fructifying theories of science.
The theory of evolution needs no defense in The Jewish Press; it is the cornerstone of modern biology. As all roads lead to
Rome, all biological roads lead to evolution. The Jewish Press is not the proper venue to challenge scientific ideas; that is
done in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and before one’s colleagues at scientific meetings. None of the readers who’ve
assailed evolution in The Jewish Press have published or presented in this way.
The dates and locations of meetings of societies such as the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the
American Institute of Biological Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are a Google search
away for critics of evolution – if the Internet is not yet banned in their homes. And that is what should be aired in The Jewish
Bemusement soon gave way to sadness and anger when I did a Google search and quickly found that I was in very good
company. Rabbi Natan Slifkin in Israel had written several books showing with impeccable Torah sources that there is room
in Torah for acceptance of modern science, and he was hung out to dry by a Who’s Who of haredi Torah authority in both
America and Israel.
Apparently many (but by no means all) so-called gedolim are so small-minded and insecure that any idea that seems to pose
the slightest challenge to their view of the world is to be suppressed, and anybody holding such views, no matter how
learned, is to be branded an apikoros (heretic) and subjected to the most reprehensible vilification and character
assassination. Gentiles in the academic world behave better than that toward colleagues with whom they disagree.
Many of those who signed on to the ban never read the books – and could not because they do not understand English!
Nevertheless, they see fit to hold Torah up to the ridicule of the civilized world, which will now see us in the same vein as the
Flat Earth Society, and to alienate inquisitive bright young Jews from Torah.
These men have drawn a line in the sand and dared us to cross. For the sake of Torah, we must shed our inferiority complex
and cross it. Government in America derives its authority from the consent of the governed, and I for one do not consent to
be governed by the signatories to or endorsers of the Slifkin ban and their censoring, book-banning crew – at least one of
whom actually had the evolution chapters torn out of biology textbooks in his yeshiva in Brooklyn.
We have been too deferential to them for too long. We will not allow such people to enclose our minds in ghetto walls and
send us back to the Dark Ages. With the guidance of American-born, English-speaking, college-educated Torah scholars, we
will forge ahead, carrying Torah proudly into a world of intellectual freedom in which we participate fully.
Zev Stern, Ph.D.
Brooklyn NY


Anonymous Shmuel said...

Wow, a great letter!

Thu Jul 06, 08:04:00 PM EDT  
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