January 5, 2005


God (or Not), Physics and, of Course, Love: Scientists Take a Leap (NY Times, 1/04/05)

"What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"
This was the question posed to scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers by John Brockman, a literary agent and publisher of Edge, a Web site devoted to science. The site asks a new question at the end of each year. Here are excerpts from the responses, to be posted Tuesday at www.edge.org. [...]

Richard Dawkins
Evolutionary biologist, Oxford University; author, "The Ancestor's Tale"

I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all "design" anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.

It's helpful that he acknowledges it's just a faith, but begs the question of why his Universe is designed to produce Darwinism and Design.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2005 1:58 PM

Or who/what designed said universe.

Posted by: Bartman at January 5, 2005 2:33 PM

Give him points for being honest. Atheism cannot be proved -- how can you prove a negative? -- so it must exist on faith. An honest atheist understands the irony.

My theory is that much of hard-core atheism (as opposed to mere agnosticism) comes from growing up unloved in a strict religious environment. Sigmund Freud was distant from his father, a strictly observant Jew. Stalin trained in the seminary to be a monk after leaving his drunkard father.

Posted by: Gideon at January 5, 2005 2:37 PM

Stout theory. Godless is loveless.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 5, 2005 2:59 PM

" I believe but I cannot prove...". Just about sums up the skeptics position regarding Darwin/Materialism/Naturalism as a principal around which society should be organized. Looking forward to the comments from our more doctrinaire Darwinist friends. It's a belief system guys.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at January 5, 2005 4:55 PM

Well, that's true insofar as it would have to operate in a rule-bound universe.

We cannot prove that the whole universe is rule-bound but for lack of a better, that's how it looks.

You guys can continue to assert that darwinism is merely a belief, but it's held based on evidence. The evidence is overwhelming.

That you do not want to look at it is your problem, not darwinism's.

Gideon's theory -- it hardly deserves the title, bigoted slander would be fitter -- is hogwash. Not true in my case, anyhow. Nor in that of any atheist I know.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at January 5, 2005 5:01 PM


Absolutely correct. When I was younger, I remember coming to a realization that most of the really hard-core atheists -- the bellicose "religion is a virus" types like Dawkins -- either had pretty awful childhoods or grew up in environments of strict religious orthodoxy. I'm sure there are exceptions, but this theory stands up pretty well.

Bertrand Russell is another example. I've come across allusions in his books to the supposed awfulness of his Christian upbringing, and it's clear that the animus was personal. Malcolm Muggeridge once debated him on British television and he launched into a red-faced temper tantrum against Christianity, blaming it for all the world's troubles; "ranting and raving like any atheist orater in Hyde's park corner," as Muggeridge said.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 5, 2005 5:53 PM

Mr. Eager;

I think Gideon is speaking of the type of atheist who cannot abide the fact that others are religious.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 5, 2005 5:54 PM


There's no evidence for Darwinism, just faith. That's enough for a faith though.

Posted by: oj at January 5, 2005 5:57 PM

Nietzsche also started out as a theology student.

Harry - Gideon's statement was mild compared to what you hurl at even discredited and/or nominal Christians. Does that make your thoughts bigoted slander, too?

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 5, 2005 8:29 PM

I told you so.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 5, 2005 9:47 PM


Spoken like a true dialectical materialist. Marx, Freud and Darwin. Can you see the connection now?

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at January 6, 2005 7:24 AM

... but begs the question of why his Universe is designed to produce Darwinism and Design.

In order to beg a question, as opposed to accepting as true that which is neither defined (beware passive voice) nor circular (designed to produce Design???), the above needs to be rephrased as:

... but begs the questions of how the Universe produces Evolution, and if there is a design.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at January 6, 2005 8:17 AM

He's a Darwinist, like you and Harry, not an evolutionist and states that Design arises from Darwinism..

Posted by: oj at January 6, 2005 8:28 AM

I believe with perfect faith . . .

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 7, 2005 12:27 AM