I don’t toss the epithet of “sexism” around lightly, but Rabbi Moshe Averick, with whom I’ve crossed swords several times about the origin of life (see here and here, for example), has just aquired the adjective by writing a long and truly noxious post about our differences on the origin of life (he thinks Yahweh did it; I think, along with every scientist, that life arose naturally). Averick has also pulled the notorious creationist trick of taking scientists’ words out of context, implying, for example, that Dr. Jack Szostak, a Nobel Laureate who works on the origin of life, thinks that a naturalistic explanation for that origin is impossible. For that bit of lying, Averick was reproved by Szostak’s wife, Terri-Lynne McCormick, as well as by science journalist Faye Flam, who writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Even Flam’s cat, Higgs, managed to make a handy lunch out of Averick’s idiocy.
Averick’s post “Dr. Jerry Coyne, the Nutty Professor,” is offensive because of the comparison of my physiognamy to that of the famous comedian (he provides to pictures of Mr. Lewis, and yes, we do have some resemblance, but what does that have to do with science?) But it’s far more offensive because he states—doesn’t imply, but states—that two women who went after his God-did-it scenario and distortion of scientists’ view on abiogensis, were merely my minions, acting on my orders. In fact, as you see below, he asserts that “I prefer to have women do my fighting for me.”. Check out the bold parts below (my emphasis):
Jerry, I apologize, because deep down I really like you, and the thought that I am causing you pain, even if it’s just your tuchus, disturbs me to no end. I did hold out the peace-pipe to you in one of my recent columns on Algemeiner.com where I suggested we meet and discuss our differences about Origin of Life in an adult forum at the lovely Hyde Park campus of the University of Chicago, but you have made it clear in several of your posts at Why Evolution is True that you prefer to have women do your fighting for you. That includes both Terri-Lynne McCormick (the wife of Origin of Life researcher Dr. Jack Szostak), and Faye Flam the Planet of the Apes columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.Although Ms. McCormick was mistaken about her accusations against me, I certainly admire a woman who “stands by her man,” as she felt she was defending her husband against unfair representation; and while Faye Flam’s arguments against my position were rather weak, to say the least, I do give her credit for (a) being polite and civil in both her public and private communication with me and (b) at least having the courage to write out some form of measured, coherent argument explaining why the utter cluelessness of scientists regarding a naturalistic origin of life does not imply the existence of a Creator. It is worth noting that both of these women spoke on behalf of Dr. Jack Szostak. It would be interesting to hear what Szostak himself has to say about the ignorance of science about origin of life and the challenges that ID theorists present to his position. You, on the other hand, had only this lame statement to back your faith in the coming of the Darwinian-Origin-of-Life-Messiah. . .
Yes, we know that some Orthodox Jews pray every day, thanking G-d that they weren’t born a woman, and that Orthodox Jews make women second-class citizens, forcing them to become baby machines, to ritually purify themselves after menstruation, and to worship behind a screen at the back of the schul. I would hope that, although Averick is an Orthodox rabbi, he’d be a bit more enlightened than this. He clearly isn’t. If there’s a Mrs. Averick, I weep for her.
Let me clarify to this dreadful specimen of Judaism that these women did not do their fighting for me; they did it on their own behalf. I neither incited Flam or McCormick to post, nor, indeed, had any contact with them about their attacks on Averick’s beginning-of-life creationism. I’ve never had any contact at all with Ms. McCormick. Maybe the good rabbi can learn from this exchange that in the secular community, women can actually think for themselves.
Averick, you owe both of these women an apology. I don’t expect it will be forthcoming. And McCormick has already taken him apart in a comment after his post:
I wonder if you even care how offensive the phrase “have women do your fighting for you?” The sexism reeks. Pardon me while I open windows and turn on fans. This aside from the fact that I wasn’t fighting for Prof. Coyne, who strikes me as completely capable of stating his own case and stating it well. Am I surprised that you are sexist or are misrepresenting me? Not one bit. As to the gratuitous use of the photo of myself and my husband from the Royal Dinner in Stockholm – pathetic. It adds nothing to your argument. But then, neither does the mention of me at all, as I had nothing to say about free will – only that you misrepresented my husband. Now you have misrepresented me. What next? Will you be misrepresenting my children? My cats?
I’m done with Averick, and certainly will not accept his invitation to meet and discuss whether God created the first organism.
77 thoughts on “Moshe Averick is not only a creationist and a liar, but a sexist”
I just have never understood how not fully understanding what the Big Bang is and what precipitated it = absolute proof of a supernatural creator that bears a striking resemblance to Yahweh. Seriously, the only logical necessity is that something exists outside our universe that could create our universe. Do we know this to be so? No, but it immediately negates justification for the necessity of a supernatural creator. Never mind having someone who clearly doesn’t understand basic science trying to infer meaning from the crazily complex cosmology.
The second gross instance of idiocy: created things requires a CONSCIOUS WILLFUL creaTOR. No. The Grand Canyon was created. By water flowing downhill.
*Gouges eyes out with spoon*
I just have never understood how not fully understanding what the Big Bang is and what precipitated it = absolute proof of a supernatural creator that bears a striking resemblance to Yahweh.
Because your mindset is different from theirs. You are asking for positive evidence that something exists, they’re insisting on evidence that something doesn’t exist.
So if the Big Bang shows “a creation event” and that creation event does not yet have an explanation, then it is not evidence for a lack of God. And that becomes evidence for God because there’s a creation event, which is what the Bible says happened (nevermind that the creation event of Genesis and the creation event of the Big Bang are completely different – they’re both creation events therefore the Big Bang provides evidence in support of Genesis).
It’s a completely different model of worldview. And why creationists often seem to completely ignore evidence.
To be fair, I think most if not all creationists see the Bible itself as “evidence”, and thus the Big Bang seems to just support that “evidence”.
Is there something about the mindset “There MUST be a God: how can we prove it?” that we need to know? Clearly inculcation from an early age has a lot to do with it. “Give me a child till he is seven…” etc.
Someone close to me lost her belief in God at the age of 10 when her father had a depressive episode, just like that: “Therefore there is no God.” Could the role of the father be key? Could it be people inculcated early with belief/fear of God AND with powerful, frightening fathers (or father-figures) who grow up to be this kind of irrational theist?
Yep, argument from ignorance: scientists don’t know how it happened, therefore baby Jesus.
Jerry Lewis happens to be a good looking guy; remember Buddy Love? It’s not like I compared you to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I don’t take your attacks on me personally, and I don’t see why you should either. As Tom Hagen said to Sonny in The Godfather: “Even shooting your father was business not personal, Sonny!” I didn’t take it personally when you said I was an “albatross” around Elie Wiesel’s neck. I don’t get involved in other people’s business. It does not interest me what Berlinski, Klinghoffer, John Lennox, or W.L. Craig say about you. If I disagree with something you say, I put forth my own opinions and arguments.
I am disappointed that you did not accept my invitation. It wonder if you are relieved to finally have a good excuse not to accept. It’s odd that you have not even mentioned it until now, unless I missed something. I think that it would be an enlightening discussion for everybody.
If you change your mind, don’t forget I’m only a 25 minute drive away here in West Rogers Park. I don’t really take these blog to blog battles that seriously and am more than willing to let bygones be bygones.
this is a personal message, although if you want to post it I would not object, and it is certainly your right to do it.
…and not a word about Jerry’s substantive points.
Rabbi, you are not willing to even answer the most basic questions we ask you. ZERO evidence. ZERO published studies. Why on this green earth would a doctor of Biology waste his time on this?
Make sure you ignore my questions again, Rabbi, else I may fall over in shock.
First paragraph “For that bit of lying, Szostak was reproved by Szostak’s wife…”
Did you mean “…Averick was reproved…”.
–FFC (Female Fighter for Coyne)
Oops, fixed. Thanks.
Jerry – The Rabbi’s fixation with you is getting kind of creepy and stalkerish. It’s like he wants to engage in intellectual sparring with you, but he’s not in your league. He’s wrong about cosmology. That’s just a misreading of a news story. Lawrence Krauss is up to date on the implications of the big bang: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/Out-of-nothing-the-whole-universe.html
And the Rabbi forgot to mention that it was not me but Higgs the cat who most recently pwned him. Higgs would like to point out that he is a male.
Not to be too…indelicate…but one trusts that Higgs isn’t…ah…quite as male as he was when he was a week kitten?
s/week kitten/wee kitten/
People like the above Rabbi are lost to humaness(if that is a word). They like their position of power and the domination they have over their believers. Unfortunately the dominated see it as benevolent guidance.
Sounds like he’s projecting his beliefs. “These women are criticizing me. I only know women to do only what men tell them, So Coyne must have sent them to do it.”
Woah, I just responded on my own about this guy without Dr. Coyne telling me to. Does that mean he’s making me do his fighting for him?
Thanks for this post, Jerry. Moshe Averick is a bizarre character and becomes more distasteful with each post. This most recent pants-wetting is particularly ugly. He does seems to be fond of bad arguments, though, so it was just a matter of time before he pulled out a sexist ad hominem.
we know that some Orthodox Jews pray every day, thanking G-d that they weren’t born a woman
Can anyone link me to a source for this prayer, or someplace where I could get more information on it?
““Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman.”
It’s supposedly in this rabbinical book: Tosefta to Berakhot 6:16
“The origin of this prayer is found in the Tosefta to Berakhot 6:16 that reads:
R. Judah says: “A man is bound to say the following three blessings daily: (1) ‘[Blessed are You . . .] Who has not made me a heathen’, ‘. . . . (2) Who has not made me a woman’; and (3) ‘ . . . who has not made me an uncouth person.’”” Got this from here: http://rabbimichaelsamuel.com/2012/01/what-inspired-the-rabbis-to-say-%E2%80%9Cthank-god-for-not-making-me-a-woman%E2%80%9D-part-2-of-3/
and oh the excuses made for it. Like all religions, their dogma scrambles to keep up with human morality.
Thank you much!
…and, of course, he demonstrates that his god had a clean miss on number three in that list.
He’s the platonic ideal of uncouth.
Poor poor Moshe. Has to salve his wounded pride by claiming that mere women couldnt’ have possibley handed him his ass in such a dramatic way. It seems that inept men have to always keep women as second class citizens since they don’t have the cojones to be able to deal with them as equals. What a nutless wonder.
Fascinating exchange of ideas! – Rabbi, I am an atheist who admits there may be a God(s) out there someplace and am waiting for him to give me proof of his existence. A spontaneous regrowth of amputated body parts would make me reconsider my atheism. Is there anything that would make you reconsider your belief in God? Please reply. Respectfully yours, CG
Rabbi, Oh yes, God should hurry because stem cell research may accomplish this scientific “miracle” (amputation regrowth) within our lifetimes.
God will demonstrate amputation regrowth via stem cell technology. It’s a miracle!
Hah! I knew someone would say that. I hope you are being facetious for your sake.
Yeah, sorry. Should have added a </snark> tag. I’m a little too familiar with those failings in logic.
Amputation re-growth has actually been accomplished to a degree. Google “Stephen Badylak”.
I guess gods out of the running…or god is stem cells! (Remember all the meaningless “field of potential” definitions of god?)
Concerning regrowth of amputated parts: If God does it for some reptiles and amphibians, why won’t he do it for humans?
Theologically, I’d go with original sin (its a great cover-all). Or God just finds frogs and lizards really cool. Or better yet: Asking that question shows you are so theologically and philosophically unsophisticated that you couldn’t possibly understand the answer.
Scientifically, I’m no expert on the field, but from what I’ve heard there’s a trade off between the way our immune system works and the ability to spontaneously regenerate limbs. IIRC, the developing human can regenerate in a lizard-like way until its immune-system develops.
What the Badylak group found is that by using clean extracellular matrix they could direct innate stem cells to regenerate damaged or destroyed tissue (they’ve done this to regenerate finger(s), muscle, and the lining of the esophagus among other things). Here’s a video of him explaining the field and his research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC1MivfpT9o .
Higgs here. I just wanted to point out that the Rabbi made numerous factual errors in all his posts concerning Jerry, and many humans of both sexes corrected him the comments sections. The species and sex of those making corrections shouldn’t matter.
Also, the only party here who was put up to writing anything was me. I confess, I was offered a treat. For my efforts I got three Friskies Savory Morsels. So sue me. I still think for myself. I just need a little inducement sometimes.
So you’re not just a writer, but a professional writer, who gets paid to write.
Makes sense — ‘twould explain your articuletness.
I’d like to think Baihu would make a good writer, but I’m afraid his typing skils are somewhat lacking….
Each cat will decide for themselves the reward they will bestow, if any, for each encounter with treats – Ceiling Cat
Perhaps Higgs dictates…
Arianna Huffington is certainly broad-minded (ahem) to let this jerk keep posting on HuffPo, isn’t she.
Is it even possible to be a rabbi without being married?
I love the accusation that because scientists are “clueless” about abiogenesis therefore his god. The problem with that is that only a few hundred years ago scientists were clueless about nearly everything, so nearly everything would have been therefore his god. Thousands of mysteries have been solved since then and in every single case it was by discovering natural explanations for stuff. We may never solve the mystery of the origin of life but if we do it is 100% certain that it will be a natural explanation.
With every new discovery his shrinking god shrinks a little more. He has had to become so small so that he can hide between abiogenesis and some really difficult physics.
For that matter, scientists are hardly “clueless” when it comes to the question of abiogenesis.
Imagine a police investigator working on a murder case. He’s got the corpse in the morgue, he’s got the bullets extracted from said corpse, he’s got the ballistics analysis of the bullets, he’s got the videotape of a surveilance camera showing the crime, he’s got a description of the vehicle including a partial plate, and he’s got a report of the driver of a matching vehicle tossing something small over the side of a bridge. But the assailant was wearing a ski mask and managed to get away before anybody could identify him, and the best description available is his height and build (from the video) and clothing.
Now, would you say the investigator has “no clue” what happened? Sure, he might not have the identity of the murderer and conceivably might never figure it out, but you’d have to be having carnal relations with Mickey’s dog (aka “fucking Goofy”) to think that maybe the victim was abducted by aliens and replaced with a confectionary body double that spontaneously converted itself into a more realistic corpse.
To complete the analogy, one might suggest that the Rabbi is “into” divine anagrams.
Mickey’s dog is Pluto. Goofy is his friend. (I have never quite figured that out.)
Your analaogy reminds me of the Creationist detective at the crime scene: “Beats me. God did it. Case closed.”
Which is another disgusting attribute of christianity, they actually do that. Although the christian phrasing is slightly different. Christians say “Kill ’em all and let god sort it out”
I don’t think it is any more relevant to call the area of abiogenesis a complete “mystery” than “utter cluelessness”. In the last few decades many potential pathways have been found. I hear that researchers start to consider how to pare the set of pathways down rather than how to expand it.
So there may remain a minor mystery, not that it happened by a natural pathway, not that there are many potential pathways, but exactly which pathway was taken. That is like asking about a stone at the basis of the rocky hillside it weathered out of, not that it fell down, but exactly which tumbles it took.
I completely agree that Rabbi Moshe Averick comes across as an odious loon just like any other religious bigot. I have this new word I’m playing with ‘Curmudgerator’ so far I have the meaning as “an odious whinger”. I think I can now add bigotted in his honour.
But watch out. Curmudgeon is often enough used as a term of endearment, or at least with a flavor of that. Check out The Portable Curmudgeon sometime – a compendium of quotes/anecdotes from/re HL Mencken, Groucho Marx, some of the Knights of the Algonquin Roundtable and many more. It’s great. This guy does not in any way deserve to be even remotely connected with a cast like that.
“…you prefer to have women do your fighting for you.”
Was supposed to be an insult?
+1. My wife is very proud of her “fight like a girl” shirt. I, OTOH, am not so much proud of the shirt as I am the person wearing it.
I replied to the Algemeiner blog some days ago (see below). Averick replied to me by email rather than participate in public forum. There followed a completely futile exchange. Impossibly illogical thought processes. He is condescending to boot. His most favourite clichè: “The ball is in your court”. One or both of his are herniated.
“It is apparent that Moshe’s argument is based on circular logic: IF we assume that the bacterium could not have originated by a naturalistic process then it follows that a ‘supernatural’ process (the creator?) must have done it.
It is obvious that the whole ‘logic’ of the argument hinges on the first undemonstrable premise (the uppercase IF). Personally I find it perfectly ‘plausible’ that bacteria evolved from simple molecules evolving to be more and more complex, so the argument above does not for me pass beyond even the first phrase.
It is the usual blathering, incoherent and UNSCIENTIFIC logic that the religious have always used. This type of investment made by the religious is not to do with philosophical truth but it is a battle for reinforcing their own preformed (fantasy) ideas which either give themselves a comfortable world view or worse a scheme used to manipulate others.
I would define a Rabbi (or any other type of cleric) as a militant theist, in so far as he has assumed also a social role and identity based on certain basic philosophical beliefs and his own ‘sureties’ are dependent upon the defence of those views. Religious people by definition are not interested in ‘science’ since their essential requirement is reinforcement of self defined, unprovable hypotheses (faith). Note that I do not use the word theory, which in my view may be applied to evolution which has significant body of proof, but may not to Creationism which has no significant body of scientific proof (nor can it ever have, due to its very nature as ‘supernatural’ and therefore intrinsically unscientific) and will remain always a philosophical hypothesis and hence not a theory in any scientific sense).
I would defend Coyne and Hitchens in their so-called militancy in that they are facing an extremely entrenched defence against scientific reason: the absurd attitude of Creationists wanting to insert their ‘theory’ into the scientific curriculum. Creationism is ‘acceptable’ for me in the Philosophy or in comparative religion class, but to attempt to pass it off as ‘scientific’ would render me ‘militant’ too.
The whole debate between the clerical and the scientific (including this blog) is fundamentally futile, since there is no common logic possible(non-overlapping magisteria). The ‘militant’ religious have too much investment in mind control to seriously challenge their own tenets. Religion is ALWAYS socio-political at base. If approached from an anthropological standpoint I think better conclusions may be drawn to understand the function and significance across ALL religion. That scientific truth is to be a casualty is a mere politico-philosophical irrelevance. Religion serves to provide coherence of behaviour between members of the ‘tribe’ and as such increases the survival prospect of its adherents. That the tenets are ‘true’ is irrelevant, the only requirement being ‘belief’ resulting in conformity of behaviour. Religion is a meme.”
That isn’t an exclusive trait of christianity though. Any team type will facilitate. It is even possible to net the same effect by setting up a “team” that honors the trait of honesty instead of the christian traits of deception, dominance and fear. The practice of science comes to mind as a “team” that is setup to focus on honesty.
Creationist, liar, sexist — three things that so often school together. In fact, you almost never find the first one without the other two swimming alongside. The other two can live independently though.
Like most sexists he is also comes across as a bit lecherous, he tried to engage me in a private conversation through email the last time I commented. I copied and pasted it into a comment box and he had to answer for his silly claims.
I wonder why he slams you on his blog but doesn’t have the cajones to comment here?
“If there’s a Mrs. Averick, I weep for her.”
There isn’t. Used to be one, but that ended in divorce. Then there was another, and that also ended in divorce. To his credit, he realized he had problems and tried to remedy them (and was to a large degree successful). Unfortunately, I think this apologetics business is bringing out the worst in him again. Hopefully, Jerry calling him out on sexism will help him snap out of it, but I fear he’s just going to view it as Jerry dodging the invitation.
I just read the bit. Disgraceful. I know 8 year olds who are too mature to play the game of “nah nah, you look like this guy”! Sheesh, what a baby.
Couple of months ago the christian was trying to get me to say Obama looked like an ape. My response was “No more than you do.” The christian didn’t like. It expressed Its hate filled christian style love with an angry snort.
An angry snort no doubt filled with pure primate qualities – I love it. Well done.
What a thoroughly despicable human being. I guess this is the natural consequence of being raised to believe that you are special out of all other humans on the planet.
His religion does not command him to treat his neighbors with equanimity. It commands him to treat them dismissively from his perch as chosen by the all-powerful.
Religion poisons everything, but Judaism as practiced by this particular “teacher” instructs more sharply as to the quality and bitterness of the poison.
@ Jerry Coyne
“I’m done with Averick, and certainly will not accept his invitation to meet and discuss whether God created the first organism.”
Just so that you know, Jerry, what religionists can get up to you in the face of a proper scientist refusing to debate with them.
The rabbi has no public profile over here in the U.K., but William Lane Craig has some recognition, due to his debates with Hitchens. A few months back when WLC was touring the U.K. he hired a bus with the jeering allegation that Richard Dawkins was scared to debate him; naturally it engendered a bit of publicity for the tour and generated a ripple of discussion in the national press about RD’s refusal.
I don’t know if the rabbi might attempt a similar stunt and insinuation, but forewarned is forearmed.
Someone suggested that Dawkins should place an empty chair on stage when he talks, reserved for God.
Smart. Meeting with him would imply that you as a scientist think there is something to debate. Plus he is such small fry that why would you lend him your credibility? Engaging with a stunted mind makes everyone involved seem stunted.
I think that’s the precise reason why Dawkins refuses to debate William Lane Craig.
“Would look good on your CV, not so good on mine” (I forget who said that but it applies).
Dawkins attributes it to Robert May:
notagod thanks, I love Fora tv! Have you seen the one with Kevin Padian?
amelie, thanks for the pointer to the debate with Kevin Padian. He did a good job defending the science but very little in countering the deception of the christliar. I think you would generally agree with that too? Without challenging those deceptions he leaves science and to a greater degree atheism in a defensive and subordinate position, while the available evidence in fact supports both atheism and science strongly above the position of the christian.
Yet, Padian seems to have little problem elsewhere, kicking at the atheist’s position. It seems to me disingenuous to play the role of hands off christianity while criticizing atheists for pointing out the fallacy of christianity.
@Notagood – glad you liked it! Padian not only testified in the Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District and helped convince the judge to disallow the teaching of Intelligent Design in those schools, he also participated in the Listen to the Scientists series.
I understand your disagreement with him, but (and I’m sure I’ll be trampled for saying so) I agree with Julian Baginni. Science is not anyone’s “buddy”. The biggest mistake Dawkins made was to use the words “God” and “DNA” in the same sentence. It gives credence to a nonexistent debate.
Padian, as a credible scientist, lent his expertise to keep Creationism out of schools. This was a huge favor to all of us. Getting into petty debates that drags science into a discussion about religion will harm science more than it will help.
Science needs to be an impartial taskmaster and needs to stand apart from all philosophies and beliefs, inculding atheism.
Oh CRAP I forgot links like that put a huge video in the comment. Sorry. 😛
Okay, I read this link regarding Padian:
I think that is a disagreement with Coyne’s book, but I can’t see how it relates to Atheism exactly. Do I have the wrong post?
Your link is broken but I think I found it – this is my first time reading it.
Sorry about the bad linkage. Yes, again!
Looks like I’ve somehow gotten some html unfriendly quote marks into the template I use for providing links. If this test works, it should reduce the mess I keep making in the comments.
This link shouldn’t work:
elsewhere, kicking at the
This link should work:
elsewhere, kicking at the
That’s the one I read.
I think Padian is maybe addressing the fact that religious people have to be approached with a psychological profile in mind, maybe? That is a whole other topic, and I think what he was saying at the end is NOT that he does not care if Americans believe in evolution, but merely that you cannot put a gun to someone’s head over this. If they reject it no matter what you say, what are we supposed to do? Short of a brain transplant (maybe someday), it’s not going to happen.
No kidding, at first glance a debate seems like a good idea, until you realize each side will preach to its own choir, not realizing one side has no juice whatsoever on this planet.
That response was to infiniteimprobabilit.
Researchers evolve a multicellular yeast in the lab in 2 months
Forget about Averick. Why is everyone ignoring the article he cites by Lisa Grossman in the New Scientist?
I’m surprised that anyone is surprised that a fundamentalist is sexist. Although I never did characterize myself as a feminist (I’m not a good candidate for group-think, no matter how good the thinking is), I have lately come to a realization: fundamentalist religion, any fundamentalist religion has as a central purpose the suppression of women.
I’m sure I can attract argument — am I reducing things absurdly? But everywhere I look, every church, mosque or synagogue seems to be at war with me. With women.
No argument from me, Naomi, and I suspect from most, if not all, on this website. See Hitchens’ debates containing his spiel on (literally) “man-made” religion. Spell-binding, if you’ll pardon the metaphor of magical thinking
Why not just say God created evolution? No of course not, people LOVE to fight, beyond all measure people seem to value contempt, both sides looking for heretics to burn. Can’t anyone admit they don’r know it all and then spend time exploring rather than jousting?