The Challenge of Creation
Judaism's Encounter with Science, Cosmology, and Evolution
ISBN 1-933143-15-0, 360 pages, $29.95
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By Natan Slifkin

Do scientific explanations of phenomena remove the need for a Designer?

How can the scientific account of the development of the universe be reconciled with Genesis?

Can Judaism accept the idea that animals and man evolved from lower forms of life via natural selection?

The Challenge of Creation is a completely revised and vastly expanded edition of The Science Of Torah. That work was widely hailed as the best book of its kind for its honesty and thoroughness of approach. The Challenge of Creation builds upon its approach, covering more issues and in greater depth. Carefully, methodically, and eschewing sensationalistic or dogmatic claims in favor of reasoned analysis, it shows how some of the greatest Jewish thinkers explained Judaism and Genesis in a way that complements modern science rather than conflicts with it. The Challenge of Creation is an invaluable resource for anyone grappling with conflicts between science and religion. It is a profound work that is sure to become a classic.

With a foreword by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President, The Orthodox Union

This book was written for those who are committed to the tenets of Judaism, but also respect the scientific enterprise and possess an advanced education in the natural sciences, and who are therefore disturbed by the challenges that are raised for their understanding of Torah. It addresses these challenges by following the approach of Rambam (Maimonides) and similar Torah scholars towards these issues, which, while firmly within the framework of authentic Orthodox Judaism, is not the method of choice in many segments of the ultra-Orthodox community. But many have found that no other approach works as well in solving these difficulties.

Other people may not possess as extensive a background in the sciences or may dispute the validity of the modern scientific enterprise. They may therefore simply not be bothered by the questions discussed in this book, or they may have different ways of dealing with such conflicts. Such people are not the intended audience of this book and they are advised not to read it.

Praise for the Book

"This work demonstrates that grappling with issues such as evolution, the age of the universe, the literalism of our sacred texts, miracles, divine providence, and the scientific worldview in general can result in a new appreciation of the breadth and depth of our Torah... Seekers, whether new to the Jewish observance or born into the Orthodox fold, will find in this work a model of honest confrontation with serious challenges. The Challenge of Creation spells out these challenges articulately, analyzes them keenly, and refers to impeccable and authoritative traditional sources to address them... Rabbi Slifkin is to be commended for his contribution to our abiding faith as well as for his courageous intellectual honesty."

— Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President, The Orthodox Union

"In this revised edition of The Science of Torah, Rabbi Slifkin addresses creation and evolution with courage and integrity. Eschewing apologetics, Rabbi Slifkin sets down a highly sophisticated and deeply religious account of how an informed contemporary Jew is to think about the biblical story of creation. Clear, cogent, and philosophically convincing, Rabbi Slifkin's The Challenge of Creation is an intellectual kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God's Name)."

— Professor Yehuda Gellman, Department of Philosophy, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

"The Challenge of Creation is a wonderful and important book. Rabbi Slifkin demonstrates that cosmology and evolution are not a threat to religion and that Orthodox Judaism should not be hostile to modern science. On the contrary, educated Jews should embrace scientific progress as giving us a better understanding of and appreciation for the glory of God. Rabbi Slifkin writes with clarity and logic and with a firm grasp of the scientific issues. He provides extensive references to a wide range of Torah giants whose interpretations show that cosmology and evolution are not alien from our tradition. It is an invaluable resource for those of us in communities where the scientific ideas described in this book are known to be firmly established and where students, friends and colleagues constantly question us about traditional Judaism's views on modern science."

— Professor Carl Rosenzweig, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Syracuse University

"No one could read this book without being aware of the author's deeply spiritual nature and his absolute devotion to the faith of his fathers. At the same time, one meets a man for whom the world is God's creation and it is for us, made in God's image, to go forward bravely exploring and trying to understand this creation. Rabbi Slifkin shows us that modern science is in the end a wonderful hymn to what God has wrought, and its appreciation enriches our lives and makes possible an even greater respect for, and love of, the Author of all things."

— Professor Michael Ruse, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University

Inside the Book

Table of Contents
  • About This Book
  • Introduction
  • Part One: Science
    • Chapter One: The Theological Foundations of Science
    • Chapter Two: The New Teleology
    • Chapter Three: Miracles and Nature
    • Chapter Four: The Particulars of Providence
    • Chapter Five: The Importance of Natural Law
    • Chapter Six: Approaching Conflicts
    • Chapter Seven: Departing from Literalism
    • Chapter Eight: Conflict and Reinterpretation
  • Part Two: Cosmology
    • Chapter Nine: Evidence for an Ancient Universe
    • Chapter Ten: The Chaotic Approach
    • Chapter Eleven: The Prochronic Approach
    • Chapter Twelve: The Prior-Worlds Approach
    • Chapter Thirteen: The Day-Age Approach
    • Chapter Fourteen: Departing from Concordism
    • Chapter Fifteen: Genesis as a Theological Text
    • Chapter Sixteen: The Content and Sequence of Genesis
    • Chapter Seventeen: Dinosaurs and Sea Creatures
  • Part Three: Evolution
    • Chapter Eighteen: Untangling Evolution
    • Chapter Nineteen: The Origin of Life
    • Chapter Twenty: Common Ancestry
    • Chapter Twenty-One: Evolutionary Mechanisms and Intelligent Design
    • Chapter Twenty-Two: Darwinian Evolution and Godís Attributes
    • Chapter Twenty-Three: The Ascent of Man
    • Chapter Twenty-Four: In Conclusion
  • Bibliography


Not yet available

About the Author

Born in Manchester, England, Rabbi Natan Slifkin (Google him) studied there at Yeshivas Shaarei Torah. He then moved to Israel, where he spent many years in study, at Yeshivas Midrash Shmuel and the Mir Yeshivah. He then taught Talmud and Jewish philosophy at Ohr Somayach Institutions, where he received ordination, and now teaches an extensive Zoo Torah course at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah and Midreshet Moriah Seminary for Women. Rabbi Slifkin has written extensively for the Daf Yomi Advancement Forum and many newspapers, websites and journals. He has been invited as guest lecturer to Bar Ilan University and to numerous synagogues worldwide.

Several years ago, Rabbi Slifkin began teaching about the relationship between Judaism and the animal kingdom at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. He then developed the Zoo Torah program, which he has since successfully operated in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Diego. This program has led Rabbi Slifkin to be featured in television and radio shows as well as in countless newspapers and journals. Rabbi Slifkin has a lifelong fascination with wildlife and has kept a wide variety of exotic pets, including iguanas and tarantulas! His studies of wildlife have led him hiking extensively in Israel, scuba diving to coral reefs in Eilat, on safari in Kenya, whale-watching in California, and behind the scenes at numerous zoological facilities worldwide.

Rabbi Slifkin's published works include:

  • Lying for Truth: Understanding Yaakov's Deception of Yitzchak (Targum Press 1996)
  • Focus: Classical and Contemporary Issues through the Lens of the Weekly Parashah (Targum Press 1997)
  • Seasons of Life: The Reflection of the Jewish Year in the Natural World (Targum Press 1998)
  • Second Focus: Original and Stimulating Essays on Jewish Thought (Targum Press 1999)
  • In Noah's Footsteps: Biblical Perspectives on the Zoo (The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens 2000)
  • The Science of Torah: The Reflection of Torah in the Laws of Science, the Creation of the Universe, and the Development of Life (Targum Press 2001)
  • Nature's Song: An Elucidation of Perek Shirah, the Anceint Text that Lists the Philosophical and Ethical Lessons of the Natural World (Targum Press 2001)
  • Mysterious Creatures: Intriguing Torah Enigmas of Natural and Unnatural History (Targum Press 2003)
  • The Camel, The Hare, And The Hyrax: A Study of the Laws of Animals with One Kosher Sign in Light of Modern Zoology (Targum Press 2004)
  • Man and Beast: Our Relationships with Animals in Jewish Law and Thought (Zoo Torah 2006)

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