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Kingdom of Priests

When I complained a couple of days ago about people who misrepresent Maimonides as a proto-Darwinist, then cited a newish biography by Joel Kraemer on the subject as solid evidence that Maimonides would be an intelligent-design advocate and that the issue was for him the most important of philosophical and scientific questions, reader Anderson complained in turn that I was attacking a straw man:

You should be able to link to several examples of people making this or a very similar argument. You shouldn’t have to create a straw-man version of it.

Your wish, Anderson, is my command. Just yesterday a colleague sent me this from Obama’s favorite pro-choice Evangelical Christian, Francis Collins, speaking at a Pew Forum conference:

Basically, if you look at Judaism and Islam, you will find a range of views about origin. Certainly in Judaism, conservative and reform Jews are generally accepting of evolution, and a lot of Orthodox Jews are as well. Maimonides is often cited here as a reason to assume that if you have a conflict between science and the Torah, there’s been an error and a misinterpretation, not that science is evil.

There you have it. According to Maimonides, our understanding of Torah must yield before anything scientists happen to say at a given moment.
I believe this egregious misunderstanding, resulting from a sloppy reading of a chapter in the Guide of the Perplexed (2:25), was either originated or decisively advanced several years ago by Leon Wieseltier in The New Republic.

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