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.