Adam and the Dinosaurs
The difference between Charedi and Christian approaches
Last week I visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky. My goodness, what a fascinating experience! After so many years dealing with fundamentalist Jewish approaches to Creation, it was refreshing to experience a fundamentalist Christian perspective, and to compare and contrast the two. And it was strikingly obvious that there is one enormous difference between them.
The fundamentalist Christians love discussing the topic of Creation. And they don’t just present challenges to modern geology and biology - they are eager to present their own alternative model of the universe’s development. There are ready to deal with physical evidence such as fossils (albeit with a highly unscientific approach). And they are not at all shy about what it involves - the Creation Museum features life-size exhibits of Adam and Eve cavorting with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden!
Contrast that to the charedi approach to creation, and you can see how they couldn’t be more different. Charedim just don’t want to discuss it. Rav Aharon Schechter of Chaim Berlin, in an infamous diatribe against me that you can watch on my YouTube channel, railed that Jews shouldn’t think about such things. And this is absolutely the normative approach.
Even those who do somewhat engage the science don’t address the most basic questions. Rabbi Dr. Moshe Meiselman, in an eight hundred page book about the Torah-true approach to such topics, doesn’t even mention dinosaurs once! The basic issue of the evidence demonstrating distinct eras of animal life is never discussed. And those frum teachers and writers who present objections to the evolution of animal life over millions of years never ever detail what model they believe the evidence supports.
Why is there such a difference? For those who are paid subscribers to Rationalist Judaism, here are a few potential explanations. (For those who are not paid subscribers, bear in mind that the funds go directly to the Torah and Nature Foundation, the non-profit that supports the Biblical Museum of Natural History.)