This morning, I spoke to one of the Hasidic fellows who attends our minyan about evolution and the age of the universe. When it comes to either he is clueless (Quote 1 "Large parts of Darwin's theory have been proven false." [I stare] "According to what I've read, I mean." Quote 2: "Science keeps changing its mind about what it believes. 200 years ago it said one thing. In 200 years it might say something else" Quote 3: "It's just a theory") but not hopeless. Because when I put him on the spot, he passed his flying colors.
I said: "If something is proven absolutely false, aren't we required to say that this isn't part of Judaism, that we are chazal have made a mistake or misunderstood something." Without hesitating at all, he agreed, gave examples of where this has happened previously, and cited a chatam sofer. And this is a hard core, no education, talmud-all-the-time, satmar hasid.
Later, I mentioned that my kids have been asking skeptical questions about cavemen. Again, with no hesitation he says "Sure. They were from the previous "creations" They're types of humans that existed before Adam."
Aren't you pleased with the relative level of normality exhibited by this man? I know I am. Cavemen being from a previous creation is a lot more intellectually honest to me than the suggestion that fossils were put on Earth by God in order to test our faith. It's also a Torah-true idea, expressed as it is, by the Tifferes Yisroel in Derush Or ha-Hayyim