The Torah tells us that the world was created in seven days. The best science we have available to us disagrees with this assertion. Does this mean that thinking modern Jews have to reject the biblical, and other Jewish creation narratives entirely?
Progressive Judaism arose among a revolution of scientific knowledge.
Providing a dynamic bridge between emerging scientific truths and ancient wisdom is a fundamental part of what it means to be a modern Liberal or Reform Jew.
The biblical creation stories offer an insight into how Judaism understands the essential structure of the world.
They tell us that all humans are equal and reflect the image of God, they explain that we have a duty to protect the planet, they lay out the way that we spend our time between work and rest, and they contain within them an image of the world as something that took time to bring into being and will continue to take time to perfect.
These are essential truths in our lives, and they remain true whether or not the stories they are contained within are historically or scientifically accurate.
There is a difference between a text that contains truths, and a text that is “true”.
Scientific truth helps us to understand our world, a world that according to Jewish thought is a way for God’s self to be revealed to us.
For Progressive Jews, there is no contradiction between believing fully in the Big Bang and evolution, and in seeing divinity in the majesty of the world and the stories our tradition hands down to help understand our place within it.
Deborah Blausten is a rabbinic student at Leo Baeck College