An economy in ruins. A valiant pilot saves the lives of all aboard his aircraft when he ditches it in the Hudson river. A commuter plane crashes into a house and kills all on board and those in the house. Killed on that plane is the widow of someone who died in the 9/11 tragedy. A Jewish man scams thousands of people and organizations out of millions of dollars, and as he confesses, his wife is helping herself to $15 million of his ill gotten gains.
200 years ago, two great men were born. One saved this union. Another turned the world of science upside down with his ideas. The actions of both those men are still being debated today. Half-full or half empty-that only 200 years later, the legacy Lincoln leads to the election of our first African-American president? Today, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, there are those who refuse to accept the "radical ideas" of Charles Darwin. Some Haredi rabbis try to censor other rabbis who dare suggest that human evolution is not a heretical idea, and call them apikoros. Yet they seem to be ignoring the voices of most of their own adherents, who silently protest their inability to admit that the theory of evolution is correct. Great poskim seem to disregard or refute the words of even greater poskim who came before them who clearly see the creation stories in Bereshit as metaphor or allegory.
So, on this "Evolution Shabbat" as some are calling it, I offer this reworking of those 10 statements that G"d made to us at Sinai amidst thunder and lightning.
I am the Big Bang who created those things necessary for this Universe to exist. You shall have no other universes besides this one. (Oh, you can try and find them, and maybe even think you’ll get to them someday. Don’t hold your breath.)
Do not attempt to encapsulate in a representative image or form the force or forces that brought this universe into being, or the amazing-ness that is your universe. Do not show obeisance for the things, forces, and processes in your universe that you do not yet understand, or even to those you have come to know and understand. For this universe is random, and you never know if potentially bad things you do today will impact your children or even the third or fourth generations after you; yet know that this universe is self-repairing over long time spans, like a thousand generations.
Do not blame the universe and its randomness for your troubles, or an excuse for your behaviors, for when you do so, it is a vain act. Swearing by use of your universe’s name is truly vain.
In whatever cycle you use to measure the passage of time, set aside a period of that time regularly for rest, and to wonder in the glory that is your universe. Work eagerly and do those things necessary for your continued existence (and all of your kind) except during that set aside time, which is a rest for you (and for your universe, which needs it too); during that time you shall not labor for your existence, and your family members, life forms you utilize to serve you, even those not known to you personally – they, too, shall not labor for their existence (or yours.) For it has taken billions and billions of years for the universe to become as it is, so is it so much to ask that you take a break for what is, on the time scale of your universe, but the blink of an eye? The universe wants you to have this rest time-and who are you to question the universe?
Give due respect and honor to those of your species who did whatever it is they needed to do in order to bring you into existence, for they can make your existence more endurable. In the randomness of this universe, it is a miracle that those who enabled your existence found themselves in a position to bring you into existence, especially considering that for millions of years, random changes to the sequences of the DNA of your species and its progenitors have brought about modifications that both aided and hindered its development.
Do not cause the life of another of your kind (or, for that matter, of any kind you encounter) to be ended by your deliberate action, inaction, or indifference. It took millions of years of evolution to enable each one of your species to exist-it is not yours to undo that effort-that’s the randomness of the universe’s job.
Do not interfere in the intimate relationships of others of your kind. Yes, such activities can be seen as shaking up the gene pool to positive effect, but why don’t you just let nature and the universe handle that without any extra help from you. (If you do wind up destroying your planet’s ozone layer, maybe the speeded up mutation rate will prove beneficial. Who knows?)
Do not take anything, whether physical or intellectual, that belongs to another without the consent of the other. Such actions often lead to conflict, and your species has (theoretically) evolved past the point where strength, speed, agility and other physical attributes are the deciding factor in determining survival of the fittest mutations. Using your intellectual prowess to deprive another of what is rightfully theirs is equally abhorrent. If it ain’t yours, hands (and mind) off.
Do not offer untruthful testimony against others. Despite the tendency of some of your species to hold on to truths that have been clearly
Don’t fixate on what the randomness of this universe (or even the deliberate efforts of others) affords others. Find happiness in what the randomness of this universe affords you. And always remember to grok this: TANSTAAFL*
Let your own thoughts evolve this Shabbat. Who knows what you might discover.
©2009 by Adrian A. Durlester