Monday, 16 February 2015

E. O. Wilson, Father of Sociobiology, Wants to Destroy Religion

Edward Osborne Wilson. Image courtesy of Jim Harrison, PloS (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license).

Joel Kontinen

Known as the father of sociobiology, E. O. Wilson has been involved in verbal warfare on several fronts. He has, for instance, disagreed with Richard Dawkins on the mechanisms of evolution and dismissed him as a journalist.

But his real battle has been against religious faith.

In an interview in New Scientist, Wilson was asked why he wrote his recently published book The Meaning of Human Existence. This was his answer:

I think it's time to be audacious. The central questions of religion and philosophy are three in number: where do we come from, what are we and where are we going? Usually these are just the beginnings of long discussions, but that's no longer the case. We now have a pretty good picture of how humanity arose in Africa, what intermediate forms existed, the rate at which these forms evolved and the circumstances in which they evolved.“

Professor Wilson avoids touching on controversies related to evolutionary icons such as Archaeopteryx, Lucy and Tiktaalik, for instance.

He thinks that the way to improve our welfare would be to get rid of religion:

For the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths.”

What he fails to realise is that religion was officially eliminated in countries like the Soviet Union and its satellites, Albania, China, Cambodia and North Korea under communism.

Instead of the promised progress, most of the people actually suffered from deprivation and even persecution. In order to thrive, people need freedom.

The freedom I would advocate in the kind that only Jesus Christ offers:

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 31–32, NIV).

Wilson might not like to admit it, but it was this very freedom that enabled the great pioneers of science, for instance Sir Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur, to make their discoveries. They believed in a rational God who created a world that observes natural laws that we could observe.

Without Christianity, there would be no science. C. S. Lewis warned of the dangers of scientism. It can only lead us to bondage and deprivation.


Sarchet, Penny. 2015. E. O. Wilson: Religious faith is dragging us down. New Scientist (27 January).