Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism

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G. N. Cantor, Marc Swetlitz
University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 2006 - Religion - 260 pages
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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 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.


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Introduction to Part 1
1 AngloJewish Responses to Evolution Geoffrey Cantor
2 Responses to Evolution by Reform Conservative and Reconstructionist Rabbis in TwentiethCentury America Marc Swetlitz
TwentiethCentury Orthodox Jews Contend with Evolution and Its Implications Ira Robinson
AntiSemitism Racism and Zionism Introduction to Part 2
4 The Impact of Social Darwinism on AntiSemitic Ideology in Germany and Austria18601945 Richard Weikart
Ignaz Zollschan between Jewish and Aryan Race Theories 19101945 Paul Weindling
Introduction to Part 3
Fundamentalism Modern Orthodoxy and Genesis Shai Cherry
8 Torah and Madda? Evolution in the Jewish Educational Context Rena Selya
The Models of Rabbi J B Soloveitchik and Rabbi A I Kook Carl Feit
Evolution and Divine Action in the Natural World Lawrence Troster
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6 Zionism Race and Eugenics Raphael Falk

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About the author (2006)

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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