Orthodox Rabbi vs. Atheistic Biologist Who Won’t Put his Money Where his Mouth is: A History
I have some very sad news to report…Dr. Jerry Coyne (Zealous Atheist – Professor of Biology at the U. of Chicago), and I (Orthodox Rabbi – Fearless Crusader for Belief in God and Spirituality)…are breaking up. I know it’s hard to believe, but our passionate, tempestuous, whirlwind affair has come to an end. In his final letter to me Jerry wrote: “I’m done with Averick, and certainly will not accept his invitation to meet and discuss whether God created the first organism.” The hottest love has the coldest end – Socrates
As an aside, it’s interesting to note how Dr. Coyne framed the “discussion-that-we-will-never-have.” He did not say we would discuss “whether it is possible for life to emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process.” We already know the answer to that question: Scientists have their backs against the wall and in 65 years of research have come up with no plausible suggestions. As Dr. Paul Davies put it, “We haven’t a clue.” If that was the subject of the discussion it would be over before it started. The only question worth discussing is if we can be certain it was created by God. (If Mrs. Davies is reading this: No, I am not saying that Dr. Davies supports Intelligent Design theory and to Terri-Lynne McCormick: I hope you don’t think that writing a special message to Mrs. Davies is “sexist”)
In any case, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a final walk down “memory lane” before we bury this once and for all. You see, my very first column here at Algemeiner.com, which appeared on 4/1/11, was entitled An Open Letter to Dr. Jerry Coyne: Atheistic Biologist. This was the beginning of my wonderful relationship with Algemeiner about which Dr. Coyne recently wrote: “Rabbi Moshe Averick has been a royal pain in the tuchus…spreading his creationist views all over the internet, most shamefully at the Algemeiner Journal, a Jewish weekly newspaper…” How did this all come to be? Without further ado, a brief history of Jerry and me:
1. 3/6/11 – Rabbi Adam Jacobs, of Aish Hatorah of Manhattan, a Jewish adult-education center, posts an article entitled A Reasonable Argument for God’s Existence on his blog in the religion section of the Huffington Post. He graciously acknowledges that much of it is based on material he culled from my “indispensable” book, Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. The article draws 7000 comments and 8000 “Likes.” It also draws the wrath of Dr. Jerry Coyne…..
2. 3/7/11 – The very next day Jerry launches an attack on Rabbi Jacobs (who happens to be the sweetest, gentlest, and most wonderful person you could ever meet…not like me at all), on his Why Evolution is True blog in a post entitled, A rabbi proves God. In the first line Jerry shows us what a classy guy he really is: “As a cultural Jew, I’m especially embarrassed when someone of my “faith tradition” makes stupid arguments.” (Jerry seems shocked to discover that there are rabbis who actually believe in God) Oddly enough, Dr. Coyne also exhibits a streak of racism: “Evangelical Christians can be as moronic as they want, but when a rabbi says something dumb, well, that sets my DNA on edge.” I guess that Jews, through the magic of natural selection, are supposed to be smarter than inferior gentiles (unless, of course, they are non-Christian gentiles). Jerry ends the post with one of those declarations that make us understand why he is so admired and beloved as an atheistic/humanistic/universalistic type of guy: “Rabbi Jacobs, you make me ashamed to be a cultural Jew.”
3. 3/9/11 – The screaming headline on Why Evolution is True reads: Moshe Averick: Another Creationist Rabbi. Although Dr. Coyne employed the full-frontal assault technique against Rabbi Jacobs, with me he tries a different tack; he turns on his oh-so-exquisitely-subtle wit and charm: “Perhaps I was wrong to assume that rabbis have higher respect for science and less tolerance for theological bull$#**, than do Christian preachers or Muslim imams… frankly, I’m weary of arguments like this one, and deeply saddened that they come from Jews.” O.K., so it wasn’t so exquisite, it wasn’t so subtle, and exhibited neither wit nor charm…nobody’s perfect.
4. 3/27/11 – In a post entitled Another Rabbi embarrasses me, Jerry attacks Rabbi Jacobs and myself for the third time, again emphasizing our Jewishness while expressing his contempt.
5. 4/1/11 – I post my first Algemeiner.com article – which I mentioned earlier – An Open Letter to Dr. Jerry Coyne: Atheistic Biologist. This was essentially a response to Dr. Coyne’s nasty attacks on Rabbi Jacobs and myself. Prior to this – with the exception of my book – I had done very little writing and was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction I received from the editors at Algemeiner. I continued submitting articles and they continued posting them (Jerry, you have no one to blame but yourself). For the next 7-8 months Dr. Coyne and I go our separate ways.
6. 11/21/11 – In his usual charming, affable style – “David Berlinski makes an ass of himself defending intelligent design” – Jerry attacks a friend of mine, Dr. David Berlinski, and in the process gratuitously insults the scientists at the Discovery Institute – “the idiots at the Discovery Institute…[which is] reserved for only the highest poo-bahs of ignorance.”- Berlinski is a rather brilliant academic, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and describes himself as a “Jewish agnostic.” He has written extensively on – what he perceives as – the very serious flaws in modern evolutionary theory. In this post Jerry did show his “mellow” side, though; at least he didn’t say anything about the fact that Berlinski is Jewish.
7. 12/14/11 – In disgust, I respond to the aforementioned post about Berlinski and the Discovery Institute with: Severe Weather Alert: Dr. Jerry Coyne – Militant Atheistic Biologist – Is Blowing Very Hot Air in Chicago. I freely admit that I really did dump on Jerry here. The offensive tone of his article was completely uncalled for.
8. 12/15/11 – Jerry wastes no time responding. On Why Evolution is True, he posts: Oy Gewalt! A creationist rabbi attacks me. (One thing you cannot say about Dr. Coyne is that he “never writes or calls.”) Although he does describe me as the “notorious and obstreperous Rabbi Moshe Averick,” and does say that: “Averick is a liar and makes me ashamed to be a (cultural) Jew” (the Professor doth protest too much about the “Jewish” thing, methinks), he did show a playful side and along with the article posted the following picture, which seems to be a clear challenge to engage him in a debate on the main topic about which we so profoundly disagree: the Origin of Life.
9. 12/22/11 – (Don’t worry we’re almost finished) I offer to bury the hatchet and hold out the peace-pipe to Dr. Coyne with: Dr. Jerry Coyne: My Culturally-Jewish, Atheistic, Biologist Bro’ at the University of Chicago: “It does not seem to me that a simple disagreement about the origin of life should be cause for me and Dr. Coyne to be at each others throats. Jerry, I am respectfully answering your challenge and would like to “come at you bro.” Let’s stop fighting over the internet and meet in person and have a mature, civil discussion about Origin of Life….The more I think about it the better it sounds. After all, we do have quite a bit in common; two nice Jewish boys in Chicago who love Hyde Park, who love to hack away at our word processors, who thoroughly enjoy an honest battle of ideas, and most important of all, we both love pastrami sandwiches!” I even sent him a “virtual gift” of kosher pastrami as a peace-offering.
10. Oddly enough, I do not hear back from Dr. Coyne about his challenge to me and my positive response. I thought that the era of “blog-to-blog” salvos was finished and we would discuss the issue in a menschlich way. Alas, it was not to be. In a series of posts on 12/17/11, 1/8/12, and 1/17/12 by Dr. Coyne, and my own response on 1/16/12 (where I called him “The Nutty Professor,” playing on the fact that Dr. Coyne does have a certain resemblance to Jerry Lewis), our relationship dissolves due to irreconcilable differences. In his final post where he announced the “break-up” and that he would not meet me in a debate, the nicest thing he had to say was that I was a “sexist” actively engaged in enslaving and oppressing women on every continent.
Frankly, it is clear that Dr. Coyne was relieved that he found a good excuse not to discuss or debate the issue of Origin of Life with me in an open forum. Origin of Life is the soft, defenseless underbelly of the façade of “scientific” support for an atheistic worldview. It’s clear to me that it is for this reason that Richard Dawkins also “indignantly” refuses to debate Dr. Stephen Meyer on the same subject. The Talmudic adage “this too shall pass,” is appropriate here. Despite the zealous attempts by materialistic scientists like Coyne to cloud the public’s understanding of the issue, in the end the truth will emerge victorious. So long Jerry, it’s been good to know’ya. All good things must come to an end.
If you wish to be notified when Rabbi Averick’s new columns appear, send an email to [email protected] and simply write the word Subscribe in the subject bar. Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. .