My Favorite Opponent
NOTE: Due to technical problems with Blogger - the service that hosts this website - the previous post disappeared for a day, along with the comments. It's back now. Another peculiar ramification of the Blogger outage was that, for those who receive these posts by e-mail, Blogger sent out a random post from the past - and it chose the Purim post! Hopefully these technical problems will not happen again. And now, for today's post.
During the Great Science and Torah Controversy, I unfortunately managed to develop many opponents. Even more distressingly, the majority of those who voiced their opposition to my approach acted in a very unpleasant way. This unpleasantness ranged from issuing harsh condemnations without any explanation or willingness to discuss their objections, to slandering me at a personal level with sheer nastiness. Some of these people are just generally not very nice; others are ordinarily decent people, but felt so threatened by my approach that they reacted viscerally.
Of all my opponents, one stands out from the rest in consistently acting like a superb mensch. Rabbi Simcha Coffer of Toronto might keep some unsavory company and have some very strange views (of course, he thinks the same of me), but the way in which he has conducted himself is admirable and a lesson for us all. He is unfailingly polite and respectful, explains his objections in detail rather than issuing arguments from authority, and even allows open comments on his blog.
The more I learn about how deep is his opposition to evolution, the more impressed I am that he manages to remain courteous. True, in his primary post about evolution, he was forced to concede that theistic evolutionists also legitimately see God's presence in creation, and had to content himself with arguing that they are irrational for seeing direct design in the laws of nature but not in the specific features of the animal kingdom (check out the comments to this post). But this did not stop him from seeing evolution as being the greatest intellectual threat to Judaism that exists.
Lately, Rabbi Coffer has been responding to my critique of Ami magazine's article about the Orthoprax. He himself sees a simple solution for those who lack emunah in God or Torah miSinai: Just give them the books and shiurim of Rav Avigdor Miller. (No, I'm not kidding, you can see his claim here.) Rabbi Coffer's latest post responds to my previous post (the one that temporarily disappeared) in which I lamented the Orthoprax Posek's wife being unnecessarily devastated that her husband attended a conference on evolution. Rabbi Coffer makes the incredible claim that attending a conference on evolution is equivalent to attending "a conference on Bible criticism and atheism combined," and is even worse than going to a brothel!
I know that many of my readers will simply be laughing at this, but think about it from his perspective: This is how terrible he thinks evolution is, and yet he still manages to always be polite and respectful in his critiques of me! Every person, at every end of the religious spectrum, should take a lesson from this.