Perhaps I was wrong to assume that rabbis have higher respect for science, and less tolerance for theological bullshit, than do Christian preachers or Muslim imams. Yesterday we saw the sorry spectacle of two smart rabbis, David Wolpe and Bradley Shavit Artson, tie themselves into intellectual knots over the afterlife, trying desperately to argue that it both does and does not exist, and that religion both is and is not made by man.
The day before that we witnessed the even sorrier spectacle of Rabbi Adam Jacobs arguing, on PuffHo, that because scientists don’t have a full understanding of how life originated on Earth 3.6+ billion years ago, God must have done it. This is the god of the gaps argument, Jewish style, but I saw it as an embarrassing deviation from a Jewish tradition of thoughtful argument. I also caught Rabbi Jacobs pulling the old creationist trick of taking a quote out of context to distort its original meaning: he truncated a quote by Francis Crick, making it seem that Crick accepted life’s origin as a “miracle.” The full quote showed that Crick believed no such thing.
Now another rabbi has weighed in in the “comments” section of my piece about Rabbi Jacobs’s missteps. This time it’s Rabbi Moshe Averick, also known on his website as “Rabbi Maverick“, who posted a defense of Jacobs. The rebbe is Orthodox, and had an interesting career: he was a floor trader at the Mercantile Exchange here in Chicago, wrote an album of rock music and, two months ago, wrote an anti-atheist book called Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist (see his blurbs for the book here). Now he apparently lives in Chicago.
I’ve put Rabbi Averick’s argument against evolution, and defense of Rabbi Jacobs, in its proper place on the Jacobs thread, but also want highlight it here, above the fold, for readers’ attention. Averick posted it under his real name, so I’m not breaking confidence.
Frankly, I’m weary of arguments like this one, and deeply saddened that they come from Jews, so I’ll throw his comment open for readers to dissect. Rabbi Averick apparently reads this site, and I’ll alert him to this thread via email, so address your remarks to him. And PLEASE, no invective, name-calling, etc. You can certainly argue strongly against his views, but if we want him to reply, it would behoove us to be polite.
Have at it:
I don’t know who wrote the “response” to Rabbi Jacob’s article above, but if that is the best he can do then I am truly ashamed of “cultural Jews.”
I’ll limit myself to one point that the writer makes. Rabbi Jacobs did not take Francis Crick’s statement out of context. Crick was being totally candid when he said that it looks like life is a miracle. His caveat afterward is only a reflection on his own illogical and unreasonable committment to atheism. Just because Crick did not have the intellectual integrity to follow his very true assessment of the evidence to its logical conclusion is his problem, not mine.
If someone was thrown out of a Las Vegas Casino for winning 100 hands of black jack in a row and then pleaded, “I know it seems miraculous that I won so many times by luck, but it’s not IMPOSSIBLE” we would laugh as such a ridiculous argument. This is exactly what Crick does. He admits that a naturalistic emergence of life is “miraculous”, but then quickly adds, “but it’s not impossible.”
The writer admits that we do not know how life started on Earth but he is confident that in 50 years or so Science will figure it all out. Whoever you are: You are entitled to your faith in science, it is protected by the Constitution. The notion that something that contains the amount of digitally encoded specified information and is as functionally complex as a bacterium could emerge through an undirected process without intelligent intervention is such an absurd notion that it can be rejected out of hand. If you want me to believe such a ridiculous idea then prove it. And don’t be a crybaby and ask for special consideration because we are unable to recover the evidence because of time factors. That is your problem, not mine. The extraordinarily heavy burden of proof is on you.
My only comment is this: I remain a cultural Jew, but now my pastrami sandwich (see post above) is salted with my tears.