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For Children: Jewish teachings do not contradict or reject science. Similarly, the scientific explanation for the world around us, and especially the diversity of life is not something that contradicts Judaism.
Two things that seem to be very different can, in fact, be looking at the same thing from different perspectives. If I told you that an object was the shape of a circle, but that it was also the shape of a rectangle, you would be quite confused by those seemingly contradictory statements. Yet if I showed you a cylindar, looking at it end on would present a circular shape whereas looking at it side on appears as a rectangle.
For Adults: The analogy above helps us to lay the groundwork to be able to accept that science and Torah do not have to conflict. On the contrary, they compliment one another. Specific questions may seem difficult to reconcile, but the truth is that more often than not, these two perspectives complement one another.
For Children: While Judaism believes that animals should be treated properly, humans are different because God gave us the ability to mature and grow in our character and nature. We can work on things like our anger, patience or cravings and perfect ourselves. Animals don’t have that opportunity.
For Adults: Human beings are not merely ‘naked apes’. We have a neshamah – a spark of Godliness invested in us. This manifests as an ability to override the animalistic urges and drives such as the urge to eat and procreate. This helps us to become more refined; we are not slaves to our impulses but can control them.
For Children: The Torah is not a book of Natural History. Nevertheless, what it says is important and is true. Exactly what we are supposed to understand from the text is subject to discussion in the commentaries which is why it is so important to learn them.
For Adults: The implication of the question may be much more complex though. Given that ancient man did not know about dinosaurs, the fact that the Torah doesn’t mention them implies that it was written by man and not by God. Surely God wouldn’t have left out something so important. Yet the Torah doesn’t mention lots of things that did exist. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in them. The Torah is not a book of Natural History nor is it going to invest effort speaking about things that are not relevant. In terms of Noah, since we believe that the story happened only around 5,000 years ago it is obvious that dinosaurs were not on the ark.
Yet this opens up a can of biblical worms. How could a flood have covered the earth only 5,000 years ago? If it did, how did all of the animals dumped somewhere in Turkey after the flood get across to places like America and Australia? There are some approaches who explain that the flood only occurred over part of the world, even though the Torah implies it covered the whole world.
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