Rationalist Judaism Blog Debunked–RAMBAM vs Darwin
The "Rationalist Judaism" blog, administered by Rabbi Natan Slifkin, in my opinion misrepresents the "rationalism" of the great medieval rabbis and dishonestly attempts to shoehorn their Torah philosophies into radically conflicting, modern, materialist theories such as Neo-Darwinism.
On the “Rationalist Judaism” blog there is (or was) a statement: “This website is an exploration into the rationalist approach to Judaism that was most famously presented by Maimonides.” However, if one carefully studies Maimonides' brilliant “Moreh Nevuchim” sefer, it becomes very clear that the Rambam’s Torah ideas are quite inconsistent with the Neo-Darwinist evolution theories being hyped on the Rationalist Judaism blog!
In Moreh Nevuchim 3:19, the Rambam explains that the complex design of the eye's mechanism cannot be due to chance, rather “we see here necessarily design in nature”. The Rambam is not referring there to just an "appearance of design", but rather actual design evident in nature. According to the Rambam, signs of design in the Universe are “the result of the action of an intellectual Being, that endows everything with its natural properties.” Such ideas are completely incompatible with Neo-Darwinism.
Contemporary “rationalists” believe that the physical Universe constitutes ALL of reality, and they deny any immaterial entities or causes such as God, angels, prophecy, Man’s immaterial intellect, etc.
The Rambam’s philosophy cannot be dishonestly shoe-horned into modern “rationalism”. Certainly Rambam did advocate there is a scientific order to the Universe, but that order is produced by the God’s Intellect, NOT by the random, undirected natural forces of Neo-Darwinism. The Rambam advocated the scientific study of the Universe, but that study was only utilized as a stepping stone to the ultimate knowledge, i.e. Metaphysics and knowledge of God. In Moreh Nevuchim 1:34, Rambam explains that in order to obtain human perfection, one must train himself in logic, mathematics, natural sciences, and finally in the “divine science”.
It seems that Rambam would consider Darwinism just a rehash of the ancient philosophy of Epicurus that the Rambam considered “kefirah”, i.e. heresy.
""Those who have no knowledge of the deity but think that things are subject to generation and passing-away through joining and separation due to chance, and that there is no one who governs and orders being, are Epicurus and those like him..."" (Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed II:14, 12th Century C.E.)
Wise non-Jews are aware that Darwinism is just a rehash of ancient Greek atheist and materialist theories, theories that the Rambam considered “kefirah”.
Charles Darwin and the Ghost of Epicurus
The Rambam teaches certain metaphysical concepts such as material cause, formal cause, efficient cause, and final cause. In Moreh Nevuchim 1:69, the Rambam teaches that God is the efficient cause, the formal cause, and the final cause of the world. These metaphysical concepts are radically incompatible with Neo-Darwinism that eliminates any Creator, any causes, or any purpose for life or the Universe.
Neo-Darwinism, which attempts to explain the origin and development of life by undirected material causes, is utterly incompatible with the Rambam's Torah philosophy. Any intellectually honest person would have to conclude that if the Rambam were alive today, he could not possibly accept the validity of the Neo-Darwinist evolution theories advocated on the Rationalist Judaism blog.
The “Rationalist Judaism” blog claims to be exploring the Rambam's ideas, but in my opinion, it is radically misrepresenting them.