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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Was Marx a Darwinist?

December 9th, 2006 · No Comments

A Marxist critique of the La Jolla conference
By Deirdre Griswold
A marxist critique here would be of interest, if the left had an insight, as did Marx, into the confusions of Darwinism
Published Dec 3, 2006 8:07 PM
The headlines were intriguing. “A Free-for-All on Science and Religion,” wrote the New York Times. “Losing Our Religion: A gathering of scientists and atheists explores whether faith in science can ever substitute for belief in God,” was Newsweek’s version. New Scientist magazine called its article “Beyond Belief—In Place of God: Can secular science ever oust religious belief—and should it even try?”

The reports summarized the highlights of a conference, held Nov. 5-7 at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., that attracted a large number of very prominent scientists, mostly from the United States and Britain, for a discussion called “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival.”

Richard Dawkins was there, an evolutionary biologist from Britain who wrote “The God Delusion,” currently a best seller.

Sam Harris, a doctoral student in neuroscience, also spoke. He is author of “Letter to a Christian Nation,” another recent best seller, as well as an earlier book, “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason.”

Physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg also spoke, as did Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., seemed to be one of the very few women speakers in a conference dominated by white men.

The published accounts mentioned above emphasize that the overwhelming majority of the conferees identified themselves as atheists or non-believers and the speakers posed the issue as a conflict between reason and dogma. But they sharply debated one another on what scientists’ attitude should be toward religion.

If anyone at the conference took a historical materialist view of this question—that is, a Marxist view—the mass media did not report it.

That alone is worthy of note, because for many years a conference in the U.S. that promoted atheism would have been branded “communist” by much of the commercial media. That certainly was the case during the years of the Reagan administration, when the influence of the religious right in politics was very consciously promoted at the same time that a major assault was being made on social programs benefiting the working class.

Tags: Evolution

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