On each day of the six day creation week, novel entities were formed outside of the system of nature currently in operation and, on the seventh day (Shabbos), the state of the world became lasting and established just as it is at present. [Rambam, MN 1:67]
“The geographical location of the mizbeach was extremely precise; it’s location is never to be altered…It is a tradition in the hands of all that the place Dovid and Shlomo built the mizbeach in Goren Arvinah is the same place that Avraham built the mizbeach to which he tied Yitzchok. It is the place which Noach built upon when he exited the ark. It is the mizbeach which Kayin and Hevel offered upon and Adam haRishon sacrificed a korban when he was created. And from there he was created. Our sages have said, ‘Adam was born from the dust located at the place of his atonement’”. (Rambam, Hilchos Beis haBechira 2:1-2)
Proofs against our mesora, needless to say, have not been provided. Following the Rambam, we are committed to rational discourse. We have a well authenticated national tradition -- so the burden of proof is on those who wish to contest our baalei mesora.
In his books R. Slifkin has taken a view contrary to our baalei mesora including the Rambam (see above). Following Darwin, R. Slifkin believes that man evolved from primitive ape-like precursors, and he thus aligns himself with Darwinians who believe in vestigial organs, embryological debris and poorly designed structures such as the Panda's thumb. Evolution's Blind Watchmaker Thesis claims that we are here by unguided processes (e.g. random mutation and natural selection) that did not have us in mind. While this type of belief is supportive of atheism, R. Slifkin believes that we can nevertheless be "religious Darwinists". “Naturalistic Darwinian evolution is fully compatible with religion” (Challenge p. 294). “The blind-watchmaker thesis need not be incompatible with God” (Challenge p. 297). Consider a section titled "Imperfect Design from a Perfect Creator" in which Rabbi Slifkin writes as follows:
Stephen Jay Gould [Harvard University] has elaborated upon this argument in his work The Panda's Thumb . Pandas do not have an opposable thumb that is one of the five digits, as do other animals with grasping hands. Instead, they have a modification of the wrist bone, which serves to help grasp bamboo. Such a "thumb" makes sense in light of Darwinian evolution; the thumb was already pressed into use as a finger, leaving natural selection to operate with the wrist bone. But, argues Gould, this is too inefficient a limb to be the work of a wise Creator. There are other features of organisms that not only appear poorly designed, but are even potentially detrimental. ... Evolutionists correctly argue that these indicate descent from earlier species; atheist evolutionists incorrectly argue that they disprove the existence of a wise Creator. ...
We can therefore plausibly contend that He [the Creator] would use the simplest means to obtain the complex goal of the world in which we live. It is a mark of genius to create a system that can produce a panda from a non-panda (even at the cost of having an inflexible thumb), rather than having to design one from scratch. Far from being a menace to religion, boundless Darwinian evolution assists in explaining an age-old problem of why there are so many features of living things that seem poorly designed, useless, or even harmful. [Challenge p. 303-304, Emphasis added]The above style of reasoning (common in evolutionary biology) is very far from the standards of the hard sciences (and even further from the standard of proof demanded by the Rambam when it comes to our mesora). For example, even if it is true that the Panda's thumb is poorly designed, there are no detailed testable Darwinian pathways that can explain the origin of wrist bones, thumbs, the muscle, nerve and the brain mechanisms needed to run all this machinery (robots that perform these functions are the product of advanced intelligent design techniques).
However, a 1999 study in Nature analyzed the giant panda's thumb using computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and related techniques. Contrary to R. Slifkin's and Gould "poorly designed" panda's thumb, the study shows that the radial sesamoid bone (its "thumb") is "one of the most extraordinary manipulation systems" among mammals.
The way in which the giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, uses the radial sesamoid bone — its ‘pseudo-thumb’ — for grasping makes it one of the most extraordinary manipulation systems in mammalian evolution. ...
The three-dimensional images we obtained indicate that the radial sesamoid bone cannot move independently of its articulated bones, as has been suggested, but rather acts as part of a functional unit of manipulation. The radial sesamoid bone and the accessory carpal bone form a double pincer-like apparatus in the medial and lateral sides of the hand, respectively, enabling the panda to manipulate objects with great dexterity. ...
We have shown that the hand of the giant panda has a much more refined grasping mechanism than has been suggested in previous morphological models.
[Endo, H., Yamagiwa, D., Hayashi, Y. H., Koie, H., Yamaya, Y., and Kimura, J. 1999. Nature 397: 309-310. Emphasis added]For more on the Panda's thumb see here.
R. Slifkin should consider adding the case of the Panda's thumb to the errata list he has compiled for his book. In the preface to Challenge of Creation, R. Slifkin writes that he is "following the approach of the Rambam". This too should be added to the errata list. More to the point, R. Slifkin has embraced "theistic evolution". But, theistic evolution is a new (or at least different) religion whose dogma is contrary to the essence of our mesora.