Posted by: Dan | September 3, 2007

E.O. Wilson Interview

Here’s an excellent (and long – 1hr) interview of arguably the greatest biologist of the last 50 years, covering a huge breadth of topics – being good without god, consciousness, death, emergence, free will, intelligent design, science and religion, and the biology of religion.

Original source, with chapter selections and interviews with other scientists is here. (HT: Ontogeny)



  1. Wilson has self-identified as a “provisional deist,” so he is not completely on the godless bandwagon.

  2. In print:

    Salon interview, 2006

  3. He says that in the interview above. What is the difference between a ‘provisional deist’ and a ‘teapot atheist,’ anyway? Nothing that I can see.

    Anyway, I found his thoughts on sociobiology, consciousness, human evolution, and the nature of religion to be much more interesting than whether or not he’s atheist, agnostic, or whatever else. ;-)

  4. I think it means that he really wants to believe, but can’t justify it intellectually.

  5. That’s not what he says in the interview. In the Science and religion section of the interview, he says that he’s “not one of these scientist that waffles on the subject of [NOMA],” and then goes on to say that “when cornered, he calls himself a provisional deist,” which he defines as one who “considers at least the possibility that the ultimate laws of the universe were set by some sort of universe,” and leaves the door open to the astrophysics/cosmological discussions in a very obscure agnostic sort of way.

    So it’s quite the opposite. He doesn’t believe, but can’t justify that intellectually, and so leaves a provision that maybe a deist/creator god could exist (he can’t prove a negative); which is akin to Bertrand Russell saying that he couldn’t disprove a teapot in orbit around the sun, even though it may be extremely improbable. He does reject a personal/intervening god outright.

    It’s around 29:20 into the interview.


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