Rabbi questions atheism in lecture at Chabad House
By Andrea Salus • The Daily Northwestern
The lack of scientific proof concerning the origin of life should force atheists to be open-minded about the existence of a divine creator, Rabbi Moshe Averick said in a lecture at the Tannanbaum Chabad House, 2014 Orrington Ave., on Friday.
Averick is an ordained Orthodox Rabbi and Chicago native who speaks at colleges across the country, usually addressing the skepticism of atheists in relation to the origin of life.
The lecture, "Origin of Life and Scientific Evidence for a Creator," was given to a crowd of about 35, which included Northwestern students and faculty as well as other students and community members from the area. The night started with a Shabbat dinner and prayers and continued with Averick's speech based on his new book, "Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist."
Despite his belief in a creator, Averick agreed there could still be a scientific answer to the origin of life and criticized those who remained close-minded to either of the explanations, whether scientific or religious. He said sometimes the psychological need to believe or not believe something is so great people will ignore other possibilities that could confuse their view of the world.
Averick discussed the argument of design, which means the existence of something proves the presence of its creator. He explained it using an analogy with the suit he was wearing, claiming the existence of the suit proved the existence of the tailor. He then applied this theory to a divine creator of human life.
He did not delve into the topic of creationism but instead strictly focused on the fact that no one — not even atheistic scientists — can satisfactorily explain the origin of life, making the idea of a creator seem more plausible.
"What I am trying to do — it's my way of waging an intellectual war on atheism," he said after the lecture.
The talk concluded with a question-and-answer session, at which dissenting views and skepticism were expressed among some of the attendees.
"While I don't agree with his ultimate conclusion, it was certainly interesting to hear his reasoning," said SESP senior Rachel Zinn, the president of Chabad's student executive board, in an e-mail after the event. "It's nice to hear a different perspective on life once in a while."
One of the interviewed attendees said they felt the sensitive topic was one that needed to be explored.
"I just felt it was important to get the topic out here and start talking about it because Judaism isn't against evolution," said Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, the head of the Chabad Center and organizer of the event. "Judaism can live very comfortably with the Big Bang theory and those theories."
Averick advocated seeking the truth and condemned atheists who use only science as the basis for their beliefs.
"Is science in the service of truth?" he said as he finished the speech. "Or is truth in the service of science?"
When Rabbi Klein says "Judaism isn't against evolution" and "Judaism can live very comfortably with the Big Bang theory and those theories" he's right – as long as haredi and hasidic Judaism is excluded. Chabad, for example is against evolution and holds that there is a literal 6 days of creation that took place 5771 years ago.